For this Mother’s Day I wanted to write about two villains who have been greatly affected by their moms.
Enter Loki and Thanos.
The difference between the two – besides Loki turning “good” and being a fangirl heartthrob – is how their families treated them, specifically their mothers. And today, I’m going to look at how family interactions shaped these two villains.
From the beginning, Thanos was never loved by his father, Mentor. In short, he was basically not worth his father’s time. He was weak. He was pathetic. He was a waste. Mentor would spend almost all his time with Thanos’ older brother, Eros (Starfox), and ignored Thanos altogether. And even as Thanos grew stronger with (corrupted) power, Mentor refused to be afraid of him, which angered the villain even more.
On the other hand, Loki’s adopted father, Odin, tried to take care of him as if he were his own son. Odin raised Loki alongside Thor. And though Thor was favored for being the firstborn (technically the only born), Odin did try to love Loki the best he could. However, Loki always felt displaced alongside Thor. He knows Odin loved Thor more than him. And when Loki discovered he was adopted from the frost giants, the enemies of the Asgardians, he tore himself away from his father completely.
Thanos and his brother, Eros, didn’t hate one another to begin with. As far as the comics show, both boys had a healthy relationship with each other. When no one else would play with young Thanos, Eros would. It helped Thanos get a little bit of the loving attention he desperately wanted from their parents. However, as the boys grew and Thanos fled his home, the two grew apart. And when Thanos resurfaced as a villain, Eros as Starfox chose to become his enemy and stop him.
The same happened to Loki and Thor, except Thor never decides to be Loki’s enemy. In fact, even though Loki was jealous of the love and adoration Thor received from Odin and the people of Asgard, the two would occasionally adventure together as teenagers. But that envy of Loki’s grew into mischievous acts. He made Mjolnir’s handle too short when he learned Odin was having it created for Thor. And when Thor was in love with the golden-haired beauty, Sif, Loki cut off her hair when she slept. (And then Thor made him fix the problem once he found out.)
Thanos’ mother never loved him. He was born with the skin deficiency and was immediately hated by his mother. Her hate was so intense that she actually attempted to murder him right after he came out. Throughout his life, she either ignored him or cursed his existence. There was no in-between. There was no love whatsoever. This is what mainly drove Thanos to seek love, then infinite power in order to find love. One could even say that his mother’s disdain for him is what drove him to Mistress Death.
But then there’s Loki.
Unlike Thanos, Loki never knew his birth mother. However, he had a wonderful adopted mother: Queen Frigga. Throughout the movies and the comics, you see Loki’s mother loved him unconditionally. He is not from her. In fact, he is the child of the Frost Giants, one of the enemies of Asgard. But she didn’t care. There’s even a beautiful quote from one of the movies where she says “you are my son.” Her love and willingness to protect Loki knows no bounds. Even as everyone dotes on and praises Thor, Frigga is there to remind Loki that she and Odin love him – even if Odin doesn’t show it much.
Family as a Whole
When actually comparing Thanos and Loki through their family relationships, you can start to understand how one became and stayed a villain, and the other didn’t (for the most part).
Yes, Loki and Odin were never on good terms. But Thor loved his brother – and still does. And Frigga loved Loki too. Thanos, though, only received love from his brother when he was a child. But Eros followed their father’s footsteps and had to turn away from Thanos for the titan’s evil acts. And his mother’s hate for him is what started Thanos down the path of villainy. The scars his family left on him were too great.
It seems like there’s more I need to uncover about Loki’s fall into villainy. But it does seem that due to his brother’s efforts and his mother’s undying love, Loki isn’t truly evil. And that’s why he can still come over to good, even if it’s just for a moment or two. However, Thanos is stuck on his path; there is no return for him.
So thank you to all the mothers like Frigga. Thank you for loving your children unconditionally, whether they’re a Thanos or a Loki or anything in between.
Happy Mother’s Day!
And don’t forget to check out my book Parents’ and Guardians’ Guide to Anime, Manga & Cosplay if you’d like to learn more about why your child is such a nerd. (Or if you’d like to support a parent who has a nerdy child.)