Marvel finally confirmed a popular fan theory about Loki’s role in the first Avengers movie. Apparently he was being mind-controlled the whole time.
This has been a point of contention since the film came out in 2012, partly because Loki’s characterization in The Avengers is so different from the other movies. Generally speaking, Loki is portrayed as a mischievous trickster with selfish motives, taking inspiration from Norse mythology. But in The Avengers, he suddenly developed an ambitious desire to conquer and subjugate Earth, a task that involved a suspicious amount of organization and discipline. Instead of getting distracted by pranks and elaborate double-crosses, he became a goal-oriented military leader.
Some fans chalked this up to Joss Whedon‘s often dubious characterization choices (remember Black Widow and Bruce Banner’s out-of-nowhere romance?), but others suggested it had a canonical explanation: While using the Chitauri Scepter to control his new minions, Loki was being mind-controlled himself. In some scenes his eyes have the same blue glow as other mind-control victims, lending credence to the theory. And now, if you look at Loki’s bio on the official Marvel website, you’ll find this little tidbit about his role in The Avengers:
“Gifted with a Scepter that acted as a mind control device, Loki would be able to influence others. Unbeknownst to him, the Scepter was also influencing him, fueling his hatred over his brother Thor and the inhabitants of Earth.”
Basically, the scepter made Loki more susceptible to Thanos’ orders. The Avengers takes place after the first Thor movie, meaning Loki had every reason to want revenge against Thor and his allies. We can assume that he made a deal with Thanos to gain extra power, but Thanos used the scepter to make Loki more obedient, preventing him from pulling one of his usual stunts and betraying Thanos at the earliest opportunity.
Given that this was never explicitly acknowledged on-screen, this detail feels like a subtle retcon of Loki’s supervillain role. With Marvel working on a live-action Loki miniseries for Disney’s new streaming service, you can see why they’d want to soften his backstory a bit.
H/T Comic Book Movie