Time ago I wrote an article arguing that Loki and Thor represented the Geek and the Jock in the movies. Recently Marvel Comics has confirmed that theory in a very direct and visual way. In Loki Agent of Asgard we can see Loki presented with geek traits:
- He can hack computers easily. This means that he can code.
- We can see him playing video games while talking with the All-Mother. We can assume that he was playing games when the All-Mother entered the system to talk to him.
- His earthly fashion resembles that of a geek. Double sleeves is what we usually see in other geeky TV characters, like Sheldon Cooper in the Big Bang Theory. He usually wears double sleeves, a T-shirt, or shirt, what seems to be jeans, socks with stripes or black socks. This is the image of the cool geek.
- We can spot a shelf plenty of books in his appartment. These can be simple books, computer ones, or even comics. Geeks are highly educated, so it is no surprise to find also books in Loki’s apartment.
- We can also find a poster of the comics Thor in his apartment. From here we could deduce that he likes to read comics.
These are the hints that make connect the image of Loki with Geeks. The image of geeks is getting cooler and cooler every time, so it is no mistake to find him representing them. Being the God of Mischief and the trickster of Asgard, it is no coincidence to find him represent Geeks either. Magic and science are the same thing in the comics universe. In real life too, this can happen. Sometimes, computers are a total mystery to those who don’t know how to program or code. Not all Geeks are computer savvy individuals. Some are just gamers, and others might only like comics. However, seen in this light, Loki does resemble the stereotype of what a Geek is thought to be. (You just need to take a look to the Big Bang Theory.)
Thor, however, represents the jock. We can see this idea in Loki Agent of Asgard and the Uncanny Avengers Annual #1 (published, April 2014). We can see Thor incarnating the Jock:
- He drinks a lot of beer in Loki Agent of Asgard.
- His muscles are more than double size of Loki’s. He is… huge!
- He is also slow to understand. We just need to read some of the dialog. Loki presents the things to be done in a “simple way”, so that his brother understands.
- He is also portrayed as a High School quarterback, along with Steve Rogers in Uncanny Avengers Annual #1. And he does act like one.
This is a quite direct way to portray Heroes and to use stereotypes for different readers to empathize with. These clues can easily be seen in the comics, and are suggested in the films in a subtle way. Stereotyping is an easy way to portray comic characters. In a medium in which in few panels you need to decipher the character’s psychology and tastes, the use of stereotypes makes this process faster. Readers engage in a cognitive and affective responses while reading comics. Cognitive responses are related to the perception, organization and interpretation of the images presented in the comic panels and pages. Affective responses are emotions that arise from the subconscious. You empathize with, get angry with, love or hate characters, sometimes without even realizing why. How the readers will finally decode the images will also depend to their personal experiences. Thus, if you are a Geek, you are more prone to notice all these elements in the new character of Loki. In the same way, you will notice the Jock.
Stereotypes are a way to convey in a very fast way an idea or description of a character without needing a long explanation using long descriptions. Stereotypes are just generalizations of a type of character recognizable by a group of people, usually belonging to the same culture. Surrounding the stereotypes, other clues can be found in the comics. Most of the times these blend inside the pictures and are left for the subconscious to be picked up. Comic readers will usually glance at a whole page and create a general idea on what might be there, then read panel by panel. Even if you don’t consciously stay in each panel for too long, the subconscious will pick up the clues, and make the reader feel something towards the character. And this is what’s happening with Loki and Thor.