A tale of brothers with Shakespearian overtones comes to motion comics in the form of Thor & Loki: Blood Brothers.
Motion comics are still a mostly unsuccessful form of expression but Thor & Loki: Blood Brothers shows us how far the genre has come, and also hints at what heights it may reach.
What happens when you get everything you ever wanted? That’s the premise behind Thor & Loki: Blood Brothers as Loki ascends to the throne of Asgard and contemplates executing his not-brother Thor. The movie presupposes a knowledge of Thor mythology, and it’s on purpose. This is made for and targeted to adult comic readers, and as such there’s no dumbing down of anything.
It’s important to begin this discussion by revealing that Thor & Loki: Blood Brothers is a misnomer. This is Loki’s story, plain and simple. If you’re hoping that there will be some serious Thor/Loki action, amazing battle sequences and the like…you’re going to be disappointed. This is a character piece. I would never have guessed that this was David Blair’s (Loki) first role, but he nailed it. His voice provided all the nuance, emotion, and gravitas needed to bring Loki to life.
Thor & Loki: Blood Brothers is a variation of the theme of the recent Thor movie. (Spoilers for the ending of Thor by the way.) At the end of the film we learn that Loki has done everything, wreaked all the havoc of the plot, in order to make his father Odin proud. All he wants is to be seen as Thor’s equal. Especially when taken in light of the additional revelation that Loki is in fact not Thor’s biological brother, Odin’s refusal to acknowledge this continued devotion is made all the more tragic.
Thor & Loki: Blood Brothers goes deeper into this idea, but the twist here is Loki has always known he was not an Asgardian and has suffered humiliation, ridicule and torment for it his whole life. When Loki has conquered Asgard, Odin admits that Loki was taken in part to help Thor become more of a hero by offering up someone against whom he can be compared. Loki learns that there are several dimensions — universes, whichever term you prefer — and there is a Loki within them all. They are all their own personages yet they are tied together by destiny, and not a pleasant one at that.
Meanwhile Loki also struggles with the insistence by nearly everyone he comes into contact with that he execute Thor. He states he has no desire to do this, but is goaded into it, mainly by being mocked and derided as being less than Thor. And yet there’s a turn, right at the end. Loki decides to free Thor and see if they cannot once again love each other as brothers and build Asgard together anew. But before he can talk to him, Thor breaks free, and while Loki appeals to Thor to hear him out it’s all for naught. It’s truly a beautiful tragedy.
One of the biggest appeals of Thor & Loki: Blood Brothers is this journey Loki takes. It is very much like what I suspect drove George Lucas to go back to the Star Wars universe and embark on the prequels. And that is the desire to understand one of the most charismatic villains ever captured on film. But the most compelling aspect of this journey is the simple matter of relatability.
If I describe to you a character that was abused as a child, who grew up not knowing a parent, who has the capacity for greatness within…who do you think of?
Yes, it can be and in fact is Loki. But it could also be Harry Potter. Or Cinderella. Or Voldemort. And on and on. And I love the nebulous nature of this character of Loki, that he can be so many others we know and even love, it just depends on the way we relate. By the end of Thor & Loki: Blood Brothers I was on Loki’s side, and I wanted him to break out of the role he’d been cast in and defeat destiny with Thor by his side.
So much of what happened to Loki are things that many of us can relate to. That feeling of being an outsider, of wanting someone’s attention we cannot obtain, of desiring a bettering of our circumstances, and of the loss we feel when one we once loved turns away from us. It’s that sense of connection which makes Thor & Loki: Blood Brothers both compelling and addictive.
This is the best example of motion comics to come out of Marvel Knights Animation yet. The blend of 2-D and 3-D is not always seamless, but it is always effective. I preferred the scenes with as little motion as possible but then again I’m a book person and I really loved the art here. Esai Ribic’s watercolors from the original graphic novels are kept in their innovative earthy palette which helps add to the cinematic feel of the overall piece. The Dolby 5.1 is terrific, and the fact that Thor & Loki: Blood Brothers has an orchestral score is emphasized by this track, as are the various sound effects that augment what little action pieces there are.
The featurettes are pretty typical behind the scenes information and interviews, and by far the interview with Robert Rodi and Esai Ribic is the most interesting. They both discuss how they came to be involved with the project as well as what they had hoped to do with it. And Rodi even goes so far as to say what he hopes the audience got out of it. His words echoed my feelings about Thor & Loki: Blood Brothers perfectly. A look through the trailer, which details the other motion comic offerings, will reinforce how superior this one really is.
I couldn’t believe the ending and it left me wanting more, which is the mark of a really good piece of fiction.