One thing that helped make the Marvel Cinematic Universe so goshdarn popular was how accessible the movies were to people who weren't fans of the comics. You didn't need to have read every issue of Iron Man to understand Tony Stark's demons, nor did you need to have read every issue of Captain America to understand Steve Rogers' sense of duty. If you needed to know something, it was explained in full on the big screen, not tucked away in the epilogue of an obscure one-shot printed in the 1970's. As with all good things, however, the times are a'changing.
"Offering the God of Mischief dominion over his brother's favorite realm Earth, Thanos requested the Tesseract in return. 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."
Remember that time Loki yanked that guy's eye out his socket like a squishy wine cork? You know, the thing that happened before he tried to kill the entire planet with unconvincing CGI aliens? Well, none of that was his fault! He was being mind-controlled the entire time! He didn't display any of the same signs that Hawkeye and Dr. Selvig did, like red glowing eyes and a robotic personality, sure, but that's probably because he was, umm ... under super mind control? Is that a thing?
Unfortunately, we can expect more weird retcons like this in the future. The best explanation that anyone can think up for Loki being retconned into a more sympathetic figure is that Marvel/Disney is making a TV show about him -- and that's a bit hard with a guy whose hands are so dirty, to the point of getting directly compared to Hitler.
And Marvel and Disney could easily do this again with any other character. Which means that any unsavory or unflattering details that were revealed about them in the MCU might wind up going the same way.
Tony Stark wasn't an asshole who screwed everything with a pulse! Whenever he spent the night with a woman, they, um, sat up playing chess and discussing current affairs. Captain America didn't get his powers from being injected full of drugs! Those drugs came in the form of, um, vitamin tablets. Hawkeye is good at shooting because he flips houses in his spare time and uses a caulk gu- actually, they'll never care about Hawkeye. Forget we said anything.
This might sound extreme, but the characterization of Loki as a genocidal toddler might've passed muster when the MCU wasn't the biggest entertainment franchise ever, but now that they're thinking long-term, anything that threatens to bring the brand into disrepute is going to be discarded.
Which is a shame, really. As we already mentioned, the best thing about these movies is that, give or take, they're simple. You don't need to have watched every movie in order to understand Infinity War. It helps, but it's not essential, because the movie does such a good job of explaining things (the deal with the Infinity Stones, for instance) that it's easy to play catch-up. It's bad enough that no one dies in these movies, but by retconning story elements in obscure media like the official website (seriously, how many of you have ever read the website), we get a little bit closer to the MCU becoming just like the comics: good, but hamstrung by so many levels of mythology that ordinary plebs are left behind.
Adam Wears is on Twitter and Facebook, and has a newsletter dedicated to depressing history facts. It's not as heartbreakingly sad as it sounds, promise!
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