Thor: Ragnarok spoilers ahead…
Marvel has been hoodwinking us these last few years. The studio has made it look like God of Mischief Loki, Frost Giant Laufey, Dark Elf Malekith, and Goddess of Death Hela are the villains of the Thor movies. But that isn’t the case. Because Odin is the true bad guy.
Played by Anthony Hopkins, Odin Borson is King of Asgard and protector of the Nine Realms. He’s wise, patient, honourable, compassionate and just. For those reasons, and many more, his people love and worship him.
But Odin also has a temper. When angry or upset, he jumps to conclusions, acts on whims, and seeks revenge no matter what the consequences.
He deals in secrets and lies, and covering up those deceptions can frequently cloud his judgement. Indeed, most of the trouble that has befallen Odin and Asgard can be traced back to the way he has treated his children.
He spoiled Thor, making the young warrior arrogant, stubborn, immature and irresponsible. But Thor eventually snapped out of it, transforming into a worthy warrior and the mightiest Avenger. With his other two children, however, he did a truly terrible job, and the consequences were MUCH worse.
Odin’s Treatment of Loki
Loki has caused chaos in both the Thor movies and The Avengers flicks. He loves to conjure, conceal and conspire, and as the God of Mischief, he’s always scheming and playing both sides. But Loki wasn’t born that way, and his behaviour can be put down to nurture as much as nature.
Because Loki’s beginnings were tragic. The infant son of King Laufey, he was small for a Frost Giant, and therefore abandoned and left to die. Odin discovered the child in the depths of one of Laufey’s temples, and decided to take him in, adopting Loki and raising him as his own. Out of kindness. And also because he believed — somewhat bizarrely — that having a secret Frost Giant for a son could help maintain permanent peace between the two kingdoms.
A spell was used to make Loki look like an Asgardian, while Odin’s wife Frigga taught him the magic that would make him so powerful a trickster. But while he and Thor were raised as brothers and assured that either one could become King, Odin decided early on that his heir would be Thor. And as that became increasingly apparent, resentment brewed, Loki’s behaviour changed, and he started to plot against both father and brother.
It was soon to get much worse. Because a trip to Jotenheim — home of the Frost Giants — turned Loki’s hand Frost Giant blue. He confronted Odin and was told the truth, and that the plan was for him to one day rule over the Frost Giants to keep the peace.
Devastated, Loki sees this as the ultimate betrayal. Discovering that he’s been used and lied to his entire life, and believing that he isn’t loved, he goes into something of a tailspin, losing sight of the difference between right and wrong.
Indeed pretty much all his bad behaviour can be traced back to this moment, rejection by his father turning Loki into a confused contradiction of a God, who spends his days either trying to regain the love of his family, or punishing them for the hurt they have caused.
Odin’s Treatment of Hela
Odin is pretty much a man of peace when we meet him during the Thor movies. But it wasn’t always that way. In his younger years, Odin was a bloodthirsty warrior, doing battle with beasts and demons, and invading kingdoms and worlds.
Odin’s first child was a daughter named Hela, and she fought by his side, leading his army and becoming known as his ‘Executioner.’ Hela enjoyed killing as much as her father, and together they conquered the Nine Realms.
But Hela quickly became too big for her boots, and when Odin realised that he couldn’t control her ambition and thirst for violence, he turned on his daughter. But with her life being entwined with the prophecy of Ragnarok — aka the destruction of Asgard — Odin realised that he couldn’t kill her, and instead imprisoned his daughter. With one strange loophole. Odin bound his life to her lock, meaning his death would free Hela.
And wouldn’t you know it, at the start of Thor: Ragnarok, Odin dies, thereby freeing the Goddess of Death. And she isn’t happy, her rage increasing when she arrives at Asgard and catches sight of the decorative murals throughout the kingdom.
Because all trace of Hela has been wiped from history, with Odin re-writing the past to show him uniting the Nine Realms via peaceful means. This yet further enrages Hela, and the consequences for the people of Asgard are truly devastating, as death and destruction reign down upon them.
Odin does show remorse for his decisions and actions, and in death he appears before Thor via visions to help him prevent the end of days. But it’s really too little too late, his behaviour triggering all the trouble in the first place, and making Odin the true villain of the Thor flicks.