Disappointment abounds in Whedon's The Avengers, with weak characterization, overuse of slapstick and character banter, and an anti-climatic finale, but the worst is the erasure of Loki's complexity as a villain. For whatever reason, Whedon decided to ignore Loki's characterization from the Thor film. There Loki is presented as a mostly very emotionally controlled individual. He is also a powerful sorcerer, able to perform impressive magic even without the aid of Gungir or the Tesseract. Additionally, he is capable of holding his own during physical combat with Thor. From his very first line, fans know that Loki is exploiting Thor's brashness, but it's hard not to sympathize as he descends into villainy. Loki had a quietly sinister but slightly tragic air, not the typical bad guy encountered in superhero movies. In Avengers, Loki appears legitimately frightened by Thor, and is often seen laughing maniacally. He is easily fooled by Natasha's ploy despite his own centuries of manipulation, but also loses his dignity as he becomes the subject of slapstick humor that would be much more at place in a campy Batman movie. Loki seems to have lost his sorcery skills, which are barely utilized without a magical aide. Also, Hawkeye manages to down Loki with a single explosive arrow. Described as a "diva", Loki has completely lost any menace he once held. In Thor, fans remained uncertain of what Loki's next step would be in his multi-faceted schemes. Here, his goal is the villainous cliche of world domination, with a generic villain motive, killing indiscriminately as he kicks all the puppies he can find along the way. Whedon removes Loki's unique Tragic Villain aspects, in favor of a character that's simpler to write: his Loki is more like a Bad Guy of the Week from Buffy The Vampire Slayer than anything similar to the previous movie incarnation. Loki's slide into Obviously Evil could be the Tesseract's influence. Banner does suggest something along those lines. However, this possibility is never vindicated or revisited; presumably, the reason why Avengers-Loki is so far off from Thor-Loki that he could be two entirely different characters is Whedon's laziness as a writer.
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