Monday, February 25, 2013

My Avengers Project: Odinson

"Your ambition is little, born out of childish need!"

(The following posts has spoilers for the movie Thor. If you desire you can skip to paragraph three and to my artwork.)

It is time for some more Avengers! Though, it is not one of the Avengers, but their infamous enemy, Loki Laufeyson, that I shall be showing and discussing today. Loki was pretty much one of everyone's favorite things about Avengers, (besides everything else about that movie) and it is not hard to see why. Somehow through Tom Hiddleston's incredible acting and the writing/direction from Joss Whedon (as well as Kenneth Branagh and the team from Thor), they were able to craft a villain truly unique. All in one character we have someone who is psychotic, terrifying, and heartless in his selfish pursuits, truly lamentable and tragic, and yet strangely comedic and sometimes even likable. His character is many faceted, and I'm hoping they give him a full story arc in the movies yet to come. However, one of the things that I love most about his character and what I chose to focus on for my piece, is his origin, the two sides of himself, whether he is Laufeyson or Odinson. As Thor told us, the great Odin discovered the abandoned Loki, who is a Frost Giant by nature, and adopted him with the intention of uniting the two races which have always been enemies. I really, really wish they would have taken the time in Thor to develop this whole backstory for Loki, because it is truly what motivates him as a villain. We only get one scene of Loki and Thor as children, and Loki appears to be a happy child by appearances. Yet later, according to Loki's account, he felt inferior to Thor, which fuels his bitterness and jealousy, and this powerful need to get approval from Odin. This need was already in place before he even discovers he is actually a Frost Giant! His discovery of his adoption was really only the tipping point to his beginning of self-destruction.

Character Design by Charlie Wen.
To me, Loki's costume is absolutely
beautiful in its design. It is very
Elvish in quality, so sleek and elegant.
I think it is just amazing work!
So who is he? Laufeyson or Odinson? I like this idea of his duel nature, and this need for identity. Loki's instability has nothing really to do with a cliche desire for power, but a desire to belong and even further, to be loved. We have this villain who demands all to kneel to him as he tries to manipulate a world into giving him that admiration he craves. I think the quote I posted above, which was spoken by one of the evil Chitauri, sums it up perfectly; deep down he is a child desiring his father's favor. I think this is a very relatable desire and part what makes Loki's character so appealing to many. He is a Frost Giant, adopted into a world who have grown to think of Frost Giants as their enemies, but he does have one hope of stability, the man who adopted him, the Allfather Odin. In this sense, Loki's desire is like our own, wanting a foundation on which to live, an identity to include ourselves in, to know that you are not alone, but are a part of something or Someone. It reminds me of a verse of Scripture that I think illustrates this concept: "For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!” Romans 8:15. Loki lives in slavery and fear to his own twisted ideas because he does not have that identity as "son". I think this is so evident in the films as we go from Thor, where Loki proudly identifies himself as "Odinson" before he kills his real father Laufey, to Avengers when Loki, in conversation with Thor, interrupts him very pointedly to say that Odin is Thor's father, not his own. What happened in the end of Thor was Loki desiring to prove himself worthy of Odin's favor, but as he hung from the Bridge, discovered he was not so, and thus fell (in this case literally) and emerged even more corrupted and twisted than before. So, I think the direction Loki's character takes is hinged upon whether he is the son of Laufey, which includes all of Loki's evil desires for mischief, chaos, and power, or the son of Odin, which would be his redemption and returning to that place Odin originally desired for him. I think it is equally plausible for his character to go either way, which is what makes his origins so intriguing to me!

Now, with all these ideas in mind, here is my piece, Odinson:

The color palette and overall design is consistent with this series so far, and in this case I'm really emphasizing the elegance and beauty of Loki's overall character design with his elongated figure and the movement his clothing and robes make as it flows downward. The colors of the piece shift in various dark blues and greens, but I've chosen to highlight his face with the contrasting warmer tone. His face is the focal point of this piece. I feel that Tom Hiddleston, particularly in his eyes, really draws out Loki's personality through his face, and in this way I want the viewer to be drawn into his wistful, saddened expression and large blue eyes. He is looking away off screen, to show a longing elsewhere, and he is turned away from shadowy visage of himself. I chose to represent Loki in a much more passive position (his tesseract staff is down), much more vulnerable, which coupled with the title, brings out this idea of the inner Loki and his need for identity; and perhaps implying his leaning more towards redemption. Yet Loki Laufeyson is in the shadows, so perhaps his desire for mayhem and chaos has lead him passed the point of no return afterall. Here is a detail of the piece:

Just for fun I'm also posting some random sketches I did of Loki just from my head one day:

With that, I would like to close with a very insightful quote from the actor Tom Hiddleston on his character Loki, which is probably why he is able to play the character so well:

"Loki is a really damaged soul. On the one hand there is his emotional volatility. He is neither Asgardian nor Frost Giant - and he is entirely alone, and that makes for a very sad spirit. On the other hand, he is someone who overtly delights in the chaos he creates. He's an agent of mischief. There are two roads that I have to go down in my journey to play him: one is to excavate the depths of his spiritual pain, and the other is to try and find a place in myself that enjoys wreaking havoc." Quoted from Avengers: The Art of Marvel's The Avengers page 57.

Next up in the series, the great and mighty Thor!


  1. Wonderful as usual! I love the Tom Hiddleston quote. I love when an actor GETS it hehe. All the process of combining Loki's daddy identity issues, with his sort of mentally ill love for chaos makes him a scary villain because he's unpredictable like a storm. Poor Loki though, why does he have to be so cute! :-P Amazing work, I can't wait to see the whole collection!

    1. Yeah, I know, about actors getting it. I was very excited to find that quote, which was by accident. Haha. Anyway, yes, why must he be so cute and yet so messed up? I'm glad you like the piece, though. I can't wait to see the whole collection together too!

  2. Hi Danielle! You are a very good writer. I don't really know much about the Avengers...and only know a bit about the mythology around Thor and Loki...but you paint a very interesting picture about it all with your words.

    Your Loki image is very cool. I mention your "color palette" often...but you did something very different on this one. I just re-watched the extra features on Pan's Labyrinth...and Guillermo talks a lot about using color and gesture to convey meaning. So it's awesome to see you really putting all that into this piece: Cool vs warm...and the unusual passive look for Loki etc. Very tasty!

    Your sketches look great. These are some of my favorite of yours. Your figures continue to improve...and look so natural and loose. There's a lot of power in their poses and expressions...'specially on the second one.


    1. Thank you, Jeff! As I've said before, I love talking about what I'm creating/my inspirations just as much as actually creating my art. :-) I'm glad you see similarities between this work and with Guillermo's work on Pan's Labyrinth. That movie is one of my favorite movies, and so much like the things I love. It is the combination of faerie tales and dark, gothic elements. What's not to love? I'm curious, though, what you mean about me doing something different with my color palette in this piece?

      I really should get back into watching extra features on films I love. It is always inspiring.

      Thank you for your compliments on my sketches too! Yes, I've really been able to get my figures to be more free. Lots of studying on Amano and various figure drawing books, as well as Disney concept work. It has really helped me a lot!

      Thanks for your comment! :-)

  3. Hi again Danielle! It was good getting to visit with you for a while in Lab last Tuesday....and that I got a chance to elaborate on my comment.

    I agree so much about watching DVD extra' really gives you a chance to hear first-hand from some of the greatest directors and concept artists etc of our time.

    Glad you feel your own artistic growth...sometimes it can be so hard to see my own progress.

    Have a great break...ciao fer now and God Bless!