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Face-Off: Loki vs. the Joker

08.07.2014by: Dave Davis
Last week's Face-Off column featured a pair of deep-space missions that turn horrific, and most of you agreed that SUNSHINE was a more satisfying trek into the cosmos than EVENT HORIZON.

This weekend has comic book half-shell heroes TEENAGE MUTANT NINJA TURTLES facing off against their nemesis, the Shredder. Let's put another couple of well-known comic book movie villains against each other, Marvel's Loki (THOR, THE AVENGERS) and the Joker from THE DARK KNIGHT.

(Please note: Face Off is an opinion column. We're not using any actual science to prove or disprove anything. It's just for fun.)
ACTOR
Tom Hiddleston
Heath Ledger
GOALS
To rule (Asgard, New York, the planet, etc.)
To watch the world burn
Notable characteristics
-Cunning, arrogant, ambitious

-Wears finely crafted attire and polished armor

-Slicked-back hair, devilish grin
-Devious, psychotic, destructive

-Wears suits of purple and green

-Disheveled green hair, white face makeup, "Chelsea smile" scarring
PREFERRED WEAPONRY
Knives, illusions, a bladed alien scepter that can brainwash people and shoot devastating energy beams
Firearms, explosives, knives, a pencil
ADVERSARY
Thor, his virtuous half-brother and rival for the throne of Asgard
Batman, the crime-fighting Dark Knight of Gotham City
OTHER FOES
Captain America, Iron Man, Black Widow, Hawkeye, Odin, Heimdall, the Warriors Three, SHIELD and the Hulk
Gotham City Police Lieutenant Jim Gordon (who becomes Commissioner), district attorney Harvey Dent (who becomes Two-Face), various crime bosses and cops
ACTS OF VILLAINY
-Gets his half-brother Thor banished from Asgard and then deceives him into thinking his father Odin has died

-Dispatches the Destroyer to slay Thor on Earth

-Encases Heimdall in ice

-Double-crosses the Frost Giants and kills his birth father Laufrey

-Attempts to destroy the ice world of Jotunheim

-Indirectly causes the destruction of a secret SHIELD facility

-Brainwashes Hawkeye, Dr. Selvig and a bunch of random humans to do his bidding

-Kills dozens of Earth civilians

-Jams his scepter through Agent Coulson's chest

-Commands an army of alien invaders and attacks New York City

-Feigns his own death, only to later secretly remove his father Odin from Asgard's throne
-Robs a bank (and murders his cohorts)

-Promises to execute Gotham citizens until Batman exposes his true identity

-Disrupts an extravagant fund-raising event

-Demolishes a hospital

-Slaughters a considerable number of police

-Takes over the mob by wiping out all the crime bosses

-Throws Bruce Wayne's sweetie Rachel Dawes off a balcony (and then later blows her up)

-Burns a gigantic stack of money

-Plants bombs on two evacuation ferries and instructs each to detonate the other or both will explode
ORIGIN
Loki was a Frost Giant abandoned by his kind and adopted by Odin, who raised him as his son
Unknown (but he'll tell you some interesting stories about how he got his scars...)
DIRECTOR
THOR: Kenneth Branagh (DEAD AGAIN, MARY SHELLEY'S FRANKENSTEIN, HAMLET, MUCH ADO ABOUT NOTHING)

THE AVENGERS: Joss Whedon (SERENITY, MUCH ADO ABOUT NOTHING)

THOR - THE DARK WORLD: Alan Taylor ("Game of Thrones")
Christopher Nolan (MEMENTO, BATMAN BEGINS, THE PRESTIGE, INCEPTION, THE DARK KNIGHT RISES)
QUOTES
Thor: "You're a talented liar, brother. Always have been."
Loki: "It's good to have you back. Now, if you'll excuse me, I have to destroy Jotunheim!"

-"Kneel before me. I said... KNEEL!!! Is not this simpler? Is this not your natural state? It's the unspoken truth of humanity, that you crave subjugation. The bright lure of freedom diminishes your life's joy in a mad scramble for power, for identity. You were made to be ruled. In the end, you will always kneel."

-Thor: "The Earth is under MY protection, Loki!"
Loki: "And you're doing a marvelous job with that! The humans slaughter each other in droves, while you idly fret. I mean to rule them. And why should I not?"
Thor: "You think yourself above them?"
Loki: "Well, yes."

[to Black Widow]: "I won't touch Barton. Not until I make him kill you! Slowly, intimately, in every way he knows you fear! And then he'll wake just long enough to see his good work, and when he screams, I'll split his skull! This is MY bargain, you mewling quim!"

-"Malekith! I am Loki of Jotunheim, and I have brought you a gift! I only ask for one thing in return; a good seat from which to watch Asgard burn!"
-"I believe whatever doesn't kill you, simply makes you... stranger."

-"If you're good at something, never do it for free."

-"Do you want to know why I use a knife? Guns are too quick. You can't savor all the... little emotions. You see, in their last moments, people show you who they really are. So in a way, I know your friends better than you ever did. Would you like to know which of them were cowards?"

-"Wanna know how I got these scars?"

-"Do I really look like a guy with a plan? You know what I am? I'm a dog chasing cars. I wouldn't know what to do with one if I caught it! You know, I just... DO things."

-"Let's put a SMILE on that face!"

-"See, I'm not a monster. I'm just ahead of the curve."

-"This city deserves a better class of criminal. And I'm gonna give it to them!"

-"Why so serious?"
AWARDS
MTV Movie Award for Best Villain (THE AVENGERS)
Academy Award and Golden Globe winner for Best Supporting Actor (posthumous)
LAST SEEN
Sitting on Asgard's throne in the guise of his adoptive father Odin
Dangling upside-down on the side of a building from Batman's grappling hook
THE JOKER
As a lifelong Marvel diehard, this was a tough call. I can't deny that Loki is tons of fun, thanks to Tom Hiddleston's lively scene-stealing delivery and the character's sharp tongue and playful duplicity. I appreciate that Marvel's heroes aren't strictly defined by their villains, but the Marvel movies do have a pretty shallow bench of antagonists and Loki is the only candidate for evil's MVP.

But Heath Ledger's version of the Clown Prince of Crime is truly a once-in-a-lifetime performance, a genuinely unique spin on the comic book supervillain that makes Jack Nicholson's portrayal of the character seem as campy as the Adam West TV series. I don't believe THE DARK KNIGHT itself deserves anywhere near the worship it receives from Batfans, but there's no arguing that Ledger's phenomenal Joker reinvention (his final role, sadly) set a high bar for bad guys in comic adaptations, effectively altering the general public's perception of the classic comic book character and creating what is one the most memorable villains in movie history.

Agree? Disagree? Which do you prefer?
POST YOUR CHOICE BELOW!

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