Annlyel explores the treachery and eventual redemption of Loki and Bucky Barnes in the Marvel Cinematic Universe…
Marvel has managed to delight fans for the past decade, giving us superhero movies every year since 2010. The franchise has had its various strengths but one thing it’s taken a long while to figure out is its villains. It wasn’t until Michael B. Jordan’s already iconic Erik Killmonger and Josh Brolin’s incredibly intimidating Thanos that it seemed like Marvel was finally starting to take villains more seriously.
But what about Loki and Bucky? These characters have gone through the wringer, developing, what could be argued, the most complex stories of any characters in the MCU. Both have been in multiple Marvel movies and have risen from the dumps of their villainous ways to become beloved characters in the franchise.
So, I will give a detailed look at these two characters’ story arcs and the similarities that make them some of the greatest characters in the franchise.
When They Were Villains
For Loki and Bucky, the thought of being a villain wasn’t their immediate choice to play. Loki, the adopted son of Odin, lived and fought alongside his brother Thor but while his brotherly love was intact Loki always harbored a feeling of jealousy for Thor, for he wanted to be the ruler of Asgard but would always linger in Thor’s shadow. During Thor’s banishment on Earth for his warmongering ways, Loki discovered that his entire existence as Odinson was a lie and that he was really a son of the Frost Giants, used by Odin as a way to unite the Frost Giants and Asgardians and avoid another war.
After learning this he became even more bitter, determined to prove to Odin that he was the rightful king of Asgard. Thor learned of his plans and the two men who were once beloved brothers became enemies. Loki, in the conclusion of the fight, fell to his “death”, believed to be no more, but was actually taken in by Thanos, ultimately becoming one of Thanos’s pawns in the events leading up to Infinity War.
Loki would return a year later with Thanos’s support, wielding a new Chitauri spear and using the Tesseract to attempt in wreaking havoc on Earth. The Avengers would have to unite to stop his plan and they did. Loki would lose again but this time he was imprisoned in Asgard for his crimes. This is where Loki’s story began to change and his path of redemption began.
Bucky’s turn to villainy wasn’t voluntary. In Captain America: The First Avenger, he was thought to be killed after falling out of a train but he survived. HYDRA, however, were the ones who found him. Because his arm had been severed in the accident they gave him a new metal arm before brainwashing, turning him into a lethal assassin, The Winter Soldier.
For decades he would change events in the world, killing some of the most important people, including Howard and Maria Stark which would ultimately change Tony Stark’s life. He almost killed Nick Fury which would’ve surely left an impact on the world. He even encountered Black Widow, nearly killing her in a successful effort to kill the man she was protecting. HYDRA’s plans, however, were being foiled by Captain America’s unwavering heroism and so they tasked The Winter Soldier in assassinating him. And The Winter Soldier almost did on two occasions. His brotherly friendship with Steve Rogers, however, briefly snapped him out of the mind control HYDRA had placed on him and he didn’t kill Captain America.
After the revealing truth of his past, Bucky went into hiding but he was not done being used in an effort to change the world for the worse. He was framed in bombing the UN which killed King T’Chaka. Just like that, Bucky was branded as a villain again. Once coming into contact with Baron Zemo he would be brainwashed again, sharing top-secret HYDRA information with the Sokovian operative which ultimately led to the fracturing between Captain America and Tony Stark.
Analyzation of Loki and Bucky’s Roles as Villains
Loki and Bucky’s turn to villainy were vastly different. While Loki craved power Bucky was transformed into a mindless assassin who took his orders without a care in the world, no matter what those orders would be. It, however, was the love for their family or dearest friends that rose them from the darkness.
When They Became Heroes
Loki wasn’t looking to become a hero. In fact, he was rather content in his Asgardian cell. But after the death of his beloved mother, Frigga, he couldn’t stand by and let the Dark Elves get away with it. He allied with Thor for the first time in years and together they went to defeat the threat of the Dark Elves. In the battle against Malekith Loki faked his death and as Thor defeated the Dark Elves and went to live on Earth with his girlfriend, Jane Foster, Loki assumed the throne, ruling Asgard carelessly for the next few years.
This wasn’t exactly a villainous act, but it was definitely his mischievousness coming back to life. Thor found out and soon realized that their father, Odin, was living on Earth in a retirement home. They went to take him back to Asgard and soon learned that he had gone to Norway where he passed away, joining Frigga in the afterlife.
With Odin’s death, their unknown sister, Hela, was allowed to return and she ultimately assumed the role of ruler of Asgard due to her immense power. Loki would end up in Sakaar with his brother Thor and together they would come up with an escape plan. During this brief alliance of theirs, a true kinship began to regrow between them and by the conclusion of Thor: Ragnarok their brotherly love seems to have returned completely.
It was this change of heart, however, that would ultimately be his downfall. He ended up dying as he tried to be a hero and kill Thanos which was an unfortunate conclusion to his story.
Bucky’s ascension from villain to hero was different than Loki’s in a way but slightly similar. After Bucky saved Captain America’s life at the end of The Winter Soldier he went into hiding, learning about his past and discovering what it meant to live without HYDRA’s control. He would be thrust back into the limelight after the bombing of the UN but with the help of Steve Rogers and T’Challa he would finally be rid of the damage, HYDRA did to him nearly a century in the past.
Bucky would return to the fight to protect Wakanda from Thanos’s army but he would perish after Thanos’s snap that killed half the galaxy.
The Similarities between Loki and Bucky’s Triumphs
For both Loki and Bucky, their rise into becoming heroes was all about the love they had for their best friends and family. For Loki, he allied with Thor in the fight against the Dark Elves because of his mother’s death. No matter how mad he was at his father for lying to him about his upbringing he loved his mother, Frigga. Her death, however, brought Thor and him back together, beginning the mending process for the two brothers’ friendship.
And Bucky Barnes was able to fight HYDRA’s influence because of his love for Steve Rogers. Steve was like a little brother to him and despite HYDRA’s hold on his mind, their friendship was so much stronger. These characters could’ve stayed one-note villains for their duration in the MCU but their complexity lied within the relationships they had with the ones they loved. It could be safely said that their individual storylines are the most complex in the entire franchise which makes them such fascinating characters.
Loki is apparently getting his own series on Disney+ and Bucky may get a show on Disney+ alongside Falcon. These shows could delve even deeper into their riveting storylines and exploit their heroic sides even more. That would be fantastic.
There are a lot of lovable characters in the MCU but Loki and Bucky definitely stand out among some of the greatest characters for their wonderful storylines.
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