Is Whedon’s Loki correct in his bleak assessment of us? Revelations from a popcorn movie.
October 4, 2012
Recently, I watched The Avengers for a second time. The first go around I was impressed but not blown away. For my money it didn’t live up to the hype. Obviously, many disagreed. The Avengers is one of the most successful films of all time, up with if not surpassing even Titanic, Avatar and the Harry Potter films. Granted, in America “successful” means money made. We film connoisseurs know better, right?
Yet, a writer I respect told me to screen it again, this time paying more attention to the script, written by Joss Whedon.
I was glad I did.
A passage stands out, uttered by the film’s villain, Loki. One doesn’t need context in order to appreciate it. Here it is, verbatim:
Loki: Kneel before me.
[the crowd ignores him and are running around]
Loki: I said. Kneel!
[everyone becomes quite and kneels before him]
Loki: Is not this simpler? Is this not your natural state? It’s the unspoken truth of humanity, that you crave subjugation. The bright lure of freedom diminishes your life’s joy in a mad scramble for power, for identity. You were made to be ruled. In the end, you will always kneel.
Gulp. The possibility that Loki is correct -and evidence would suggest that he just might be- is chilling. How else do you explain following a beast like Hitler? Or even the partisan screaming during political debate. Maybe we do want to be ruled. Especially if we’ve been frustrated by the (false?) promise of freedom. Indeed, Loki later offers this piece of advice:
Loki: Freedom. Freedom is life’s great lie. Once you accept that, in your heart…you will know peace.
Clearly, this is not your father’s super-villain. Let’s face it. Whedon’s dialogue is probably as close to Shakespeare as most of the film’s audience will ever experience. Nihilism. Communism. Darwinism. Loki is talking some heavy shit.
I can’t help but think of the two candidates vying to become President of the United States. In a way they both have a bit of Loki in them. Sometimes I feel Obama wants everyone to kneel to a greater good as he defines it. Succumb and be happier. Romney’s inner-Loki is blunter. He makes Private Sector sound like a Fortress of Solitude, unknowable to mere working class mortals.
Anyway, I wonder how many people even thought about Loki’s words at all. I’ve already admitted I didn’t the first time. I was too busy waiting for Hulk to smash.