The Netflix series Ragnarok strikes a near-perfect balance between the themes of Norse mythology and the threats facing the modern world. [Caution: contains spoilers]
Útgarda-Loki beamed at Thjálfi, then turned his attention back to Thor and Loki. “I would be honoured to keep the three of you as guests this evening. You are free to wander as you please—you will find nothing that I wish to keep hidden. But I will keep no one who is not the master of some task, so after our meal, I will test you. If you pass, you may stay with me in my house as long as you like and enjoy all the pleasures you find within.” Gracefully sweeping his arm to one side, Útgarda-Loki gestured towards his many guests, all of whom watched the odd trio with intense curiosity.
Loki and Odin have sometimes been described as mirror images to each other. Odin certainly pulls his share of dirty tricks, although for different reasons. The parallels and contrasts between these two characters will also shed some light on the myths and the people who believed them.
Ragnarök: the doom of the Gods and the end of the worlds as Odin created them. But this is no ordinary war. Ragnarök and Fimbulvetr, the three-year winter that precedes the final battle, symbolize the destruction of the natural order of society as the Vikings conceived of it, and the creation of a new society from the remnants of the old.
In the modern day, Loki is occasionally drawn up as being power-hungry and possibly psychopathic, but this interpretation obscures the complexity of his original character. While the mythological Loki does some truly horrifying things (he does bring about the destruction of the Nine Worlds, after all), he is mostly just a troublemaking pain in the arse and he often gets kicked around for it.
We all know who Loki is—he’s the god of mischief. His job is to run around disturbing shit until it’s time for him to become a power-hungry madman and parade the giants into Asgard to destroy the other gods. Right?