Kylo Ren and Loki Laufeyson: The Two of the Most Misunderstood Villains in Modern Media

Emma Ozdogan, Print Staff Writer

Across books and movies, there are various examples of misunderstood villains, ranging from characters such as Ursula in The Little Mermaid to Miranda Priestly in The Devil Wears Prada. However, easily two of the most popular and fan-favorite villains are Star Wars’ Kylo Ren and Marvel’s Loki Laufeyson. 

First introduced to the franchise in Star Wars: The Force Awakens (2015), Kylo Ren was seen by many viewers as a ruthless yet whiny tyrant aspiring to be as powerful as his grandfather Darth Vader. However, the dark sider’s tragic past and constant manipulation are to blame for his immoral deeds and conflicted demeanor. Son of smuggler Han Solo and Princess Leia Organa, Ben Solo grew up with the heavy burden of continuing the legendary Skywalker bloodline, as he was sent away at a young age to train in the ways of the Force under his uncle Luke Skywalker. From the very beginning of his existence, an evil force-user named Snoke manipulated Ben’s mind, feeding the growing darkness within him. One day Luke sensed his nephew’s dark thoughts (Snoke’s influence) and attempted to kill Ben in his sleep to prevent the destruction he would cause. This sudden betrayal catalyzed Ben’s fall to the dark side and transition to Kylo Ren. As stated by sophomore Sophia Maggio, “Kylo Ren isn’t as innately evil as many think he is. He is always pressured by Snoke to act cruelly.”

Another villain that is widely misunderstood is Loki Laufeyson. In his first appearance in Thor (2011), Loki is initially kind and loving, albeit mischievous. However, once Loki uncovers his true parentage and learns that he is a Frost Giant rather than Odin’s son, he becomes the foul villain audiences have come to know. Loki eventually confronts Odin for lying to him throughout his childhood, and Odin admits that the only reason behind bringing Loki into the family was to use him as a peacemaker between Asgard and Jotunheim. Odin’s statement infuriates Loki and makes him realize that he never planned on loving him as much as Thor, for his older brother was not a “monster.” This lack of love and affection is what made Loki seemingly evil and vile, not his desire to prove his superiority over Thor, as many viewers believe. Sophomore Kacey Fisher reflects on his demeanor and actions in Thor and The Avengers (the film in which he was the central antagonist due to Thanos’ manipulation), saying: “Throughout the franchise, Loki has always been in Thor’s shadow despite being the more intelligent and less stubborn of the two. In The Avengers, the scepter that Thanos gave him had the mind stone in it, causing him to behave erratically. Also, after deciding to aid Thanos, you can’t really turn back, as seen in Avengers: Endgame when Loki died trying to save the universe.” 

In summary, both of these villains’ actions are not entirely their fault, as they both had unfortunate childhoods and were manipulated throughout their lives. In the end, Kylo Ren and Loki redeemed themselves through heroic acts: Kylo Ren—who turned to the light side and became Ben again—traded his life to save the light-sider Rey, and Loki died in an attempt to stop Thanos. Both of these acts were selflessly made in an attempt to restore peace and prosperity to their respective universes.