REVIEW: AVENGERS COSMIC SPEAR LOKI
There can be no question that one of the most popular movies of 2012 is "The Avengers". I've heard it called the best super-hero movie ever, and I am not inclined to argue the point. Certainly the box office numbers have given this assessment a good degree of credibility, with well over a billion dollars brought in worldwide.
The movie brings together Marvel Comics' most popular individual heroes -- Captain America, Thor, Iron Man, and the Hulk -- all of whom have starred in their own respective movies over the past several years, most of which are due for sequels, as they combat the combined threat of Thor's adopted brother Loki, and an alien army that he has gathered to cause no small measure of chaos and conquer the Earth in the process.
As one would expect, there is an action figure line to accompany this movie. Hasbro has been the main Marvel licensee for some years now, and as with many of their action figure lines, including Star Wars and G.I. Joe, most of their Marvel figures have tended to be in the 4" scale, give or take a little depending on the character. Along with the main "Marvel Universe" line, they have produced figures for both of the Iron Man movies, the Hulk, Captain America, and Thor movies, and an action figure line for Spider-Man's newest film has started to arrive in the stores as of this writing. All of these lines, except for the first Iron Man movie, have been 4" in scale. It seems to be Hasbro's action figure standard, for the most part.
As one might expect, the Avengers line focuses on the heroes, such as Iron Man, Captain America, Thor, and so forth, all of whom have had individual lines based on their individual movies. If there's one advantage, in my opinion, into putting all of these heroes into the same action figure line, it means that there isn't the same need to come up with occasionally oddball variations in order to fill out assortments. That doesn't mean that there aren't some, even in Avengers, but it's a good bit more agreeable this time around.
But, of course, the line wouldn't really be complete without the main villain of the piece, and that just happens to be Thor's adopted brother, LOKI, in the form of a figure appropriately known as "Cosmic Spear Loki". He's been rather hard to find, and for whatever reason a number of them tend to have rather quirky-painted eyes, but I recently came across an excellent version of him, and he will be the focus of this review.
First, a little history on the Avengers, and their movie, and the character of Loki.
The Avengers made their debut in The Avengers #1 (Sept. 1963), and was created by writer-editor Stan Lee and artist/co-plotter Jack Kirby, following the trend of super-hero teams after the success of DC Comics' Justice League of America.
Labeled "Earth's Mightiest Heroes", the Avengers originally consisted of Iron Man, Ant-Man, Wasp, Thor, and the Hulk. The original Captain America was discovered by the team in issue #4, trapped in ice, and he joined the group when they revived him. The rotating roster has become a hallmark of the team, although one theme remains consistent: the Avengers fight "the foes no single superhero can withstand". The team, famous for its battle cry of "Avengers Assemble!", has featured humans, mutants, robots, gods, aliens, supernatural beings, and even former villains.
The first adventure features the Asgardian god Loki seeking revenge against his brother Thor. Using an illusion, Loki tricks the Hulk into destroying a railroad track. He then diverts a radio call by Rick Jones for help to Thor, whom Loki hopes will battle the Hulk. Unknown to Loki, the radio call is also answered by Ant-Man, the Wasp, and Iron Man. After an initial misunderstanding, the heroes unite and defeat Loki after Thor is lured away by an illusion of the Hulk and suspects Loki when he realizes it is an illusion. Ant-Man states the five work well together and suggests they form a combined team; the Wasp names the group "the Avengers" because it sounded "dramatic".
The roster changes almost immediately; by the beginning of the second issue, Ant-Man has become Giant-Man and, at the end of the issue, the Hulk leaves once he realizes how much the others fear his unstable personality. Feeling responsible, the Avengers try to locate and contain the Hulk, which subsequently leads them into combat with Namor the Sub-Mariner. This would result in the first major milestone in the Avengers' history: the revival and return of Captain America. Captain America joins the team and he is also given "founding member" status in the Hulk's place. The Avengers go on to fight foes such as Captain America's wartime enemy Baron Zemo, who forms the Masters of Evil, Kang the Conqueror, and Count Nefaria.
As to the movie, officially known as "Marvel's The Avengers" it was produced by Marvel Studios and distributed by Walt Disney Pictures, and is the sixth installment in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. The film is written and directed by Joss Whedon and features an ensemble cast that includes Robert Downey, Jr., Chris Evans, Mark Ruffalo, Chris Hemsworth, Scarlett Johansson, Jeremy Renner, Tom Hiddleston, Clark Gregg, Cobie Smulders, Stellan Skarsgård and Samuel L. Jackson. In The Avengers, Nick Fury, director of the peacekeeping organization S.H.I.E.L.D., recruits Iron Man, Captain America, the Hulk and Thor to form a team that must stop Thor's brother Loki from enslaving the human race.
Development of The Avengers began after the success of the film Iron Man in May 2008, when Marvel announced that The Avengers would be released in July 2011. With the signing of Johansson in March 2009, the film was pushed back for a 2012 release. Whedon was brought on board in April 2010 and rewrote the screenplay originally written by Zak Penn. Production began in April 2011 in Albuquerque, New Mexico, before moving to Cleveland, Ohio, in August and New York City in September.
The Avengers premiered on April 11, 2012, at the El Capitan Theatre in Hollywood, California. The film, released everywhere else May 4, has received positive reviews from most film critics and set numerous box office records, including the biggest opening weekend ever in North America.
As to the storyline, and you may consider this your SPOILER WARNING, just in case you've been so negligent as to actually miss the movie: After his fall from Asgard into space at the end of the Thor movie, the Asgardian Loki meets the Other, the leader of a warmongering alien race known as the Chitauri. In exchange for retrieving the tesseract, a powerful energy source of unknown potential, the Other promises Loki a Chitauri army with which he can subjugate the Earth. Nick Fury, director of the espionage agency S.H.I.E.L.D., arrives at a remote research facility during an evacuation. Physicist Dr. Erik Selvig is leading a research team experimenting on the tesseract, and Agent Maria Hill explains that the object has begun radiating an unusual form of energy. The tesseract suddenly activates and opens a portal, allowing Loki to reach Earth. Loki takes the tesseract and uses his staff to enslave Selvig and several agents, including Clint Barton (Hawkeye), to aid him in his getaway.
In response to the attack, Fury reactivates the "Avengers Initiative". Agent Natasha Romanoff is sent to India to recruit Dr. Bruce Banner; agent Phil Coulson visits Tony Stark to have him review Selvig's research; and Fury approaches Steve Rogers with an assignment to retrieve the tesseract. While Barton steals iridium needed to stabilize the tesseract's power, Loki causes a distraction in Stuttgart, Germany, leading to a confrontation with Rogers, Stark, and Romanoff that ends with Loki's surrender. While being escorted back to S.H.I.E.L.D., Thor, Loki's adoptive brother, arrives and frees Loki hoping to convince him to abandon his plan and return him to Asgard. After a confrontation with Stark and Rogers, Thor agrees to take Loki to S.H.I.E.L.D.'s flying aircraft carrier, the Helicarrier, and imprison him until the tesseract can be acquired.
The Avengers become divided, both over how to approach Loki and the revelation that S.H.I.E.L.D. plans to harness the tesseract to develop weapons of mass destruction as a deterrent against hostile extra-terrestrials. As the group argues, Barton, and Loki's other possessed agents, attack the Helicarrier, disabling its engines in flight and causing Banner to transform into the Hulk. Stark and Rogers try to restart the damaged engines, and Thor attempts to stop the Hulk's rampage. Romanoff fights Barton, and knocks him unconscious, breaking Loki's mind control. Loki escapes after killing Coulson, and Thor and the Hulk are each ejected from the ship. Fury uses Coulson's death to motivate the Avengers into working as a team. Stark and Rogers realize that simply defeating them will not be enough for Loki; he needs to overpower them publicly to validate himself as ruler of Earth. Loki uses the tesseract, in conjunction with a device Selvig built, to open a portal above Stark Tower to the Chitauri fleet in space, launching his invasion.
The Avengers rally in defense of New York City, but quickly realize they will be overwhelmed as wave after wave of Chitauri descend upon Earth. With help from Barton, Rogers, Stark, and Thor evacuate civilians, while Banner transforms into the Hulk again and goes after Loki, eventually beating him into submission. Romanoff makes her way to the portal, where Selvig, freed of Loki's control, reveals that Loki's staff can be used to close the portal. Meanwhile, Fury's superiors attempt to end the invasion by launching a nuclear missile at Manhattan. Stark intercepts the missile and takes it through the portal toward the Chitauri fleet. The missile detonates, destroying the invaders' lead ship, thereby disabling their forces on Earth. Stark's suit runs out of power and he falls back through the portal, but the Hulk saves him from crashing to the ground. Romanoff deactivates the portal to prevent further invasion. In the aftermath, Thor returns Loki and the tesseract to Asgard. Fury notes that the Avengers will return when they are needed.
In the first of two post-credits scenes, the Other confers with his master - who turns out to be none other than Thanos - about the attack on Earth.
As for Loki, is the adoptive brother and archenemy of Thor. He is based on the being of the same name from Norse mythology. The character first appeared in Venus #6 (August 1949), interestingly enough pre-dating the first appearance of his brother by over a decade, not to mention the rest of what is colloquially known as the Marvel Universe, and was created by writer Stan Lee, scripter Larry Lieber, and penciller Jack Kirby.
In this initial appearance, Loki was depicted as a member of the Olympian gods (whoops, wrong pantheon!) exiled to the Underworld, and here resembled the traditional image of the Devil. He convinced Jupiter to let him into Earth as Venus was allowed onto it, planning to spread hate. Venus pledged herself to him to stop his plans, but Jupiter saw her unselfish act and freed her from the pledge, and Loki was sent back to the Underworld.
He made his first official Marvel appearance in Journey into Mystery #85 (October 1962), where Loki was reintroduced by Stan Lee and Larry Lieber and he was redesigned by Jack Kirby.
As one of Thor's arch-nemeses, Loki has frequently made appearances in Thor-related titles like Journey Into Mystery and Thor, as well as other Marvel Universe titles such as The Avengers. He was the starring character in two four-issue miniseries (2004 and 2010), and played a key role in the 2010s company-wide "Siege" storyline.
As to his origin within the comics, after Odin slayed the King of the Frost giants, Laufey, in battle, he found a small Asgardian-sized child hidden within the primary stronghold of the Frost Giants. Odin had found Loki, Laufey's son that he kept hidden from his people, ashamed of his son's small size. Odin took the boy because he showed strength when Odin slew his father in combat and raised him as his son alongside his biological son Thor.
Throughout their childhood and into adolescence, Loki was resentful of the differences in which he and Thor were treated by the citizens of Asgard. The Asgardians valued great strength, tenacity, and bravery in battle above all things, and Loki was clearly inferior to his foster brother Thor in those areas.
What he lacked in size and strength, however, he made up for in power and skill, particularly as a sorcerer. As Loki grew to adulthood, his natural talent for causing mischief would make itself manifest and earned him a nickname as the "God of Lies and Mischief".
His mischievousness eventually became malice as his hunger for power and revenge grew stronger. Several times he tried to use tricks to get rid of Thor, like telling him to guard a hole in the wall he had made. In time, his reputation grew from being a playful and mischievous trickster to the "God of Evil".
Over the centuries, Loki attempted on many occasions to seize rulership of Asgard and to destroy Thor. He even helped the Storm giant Ghan to escape Thor planning to get a debt from him later, and aided other enemies of Asgard, planning to take over.
Odin, who had grown weary of Loki's mischief, magically imprisoned him within a tree until someone would shed a tear for him. Loki eventually freed himself by causing a leaf to strike Heimdall, the guardian of Bifrost, in the eye, which made him shed a tear.
Loki compiled an extensive criminal record in Asgard, and was frequently exiled. He met the Sorcerer Eldred, who taught him black magic. He repaid Eldred by later giving him to the Fire demon Surtur.
Loki's schemes eventually came to include Earth itself, and he often fought with Earth's superhuman heroes to take their planet and, often Asgard itself. He first battled Thor on Earth in modern times after escaping from the tree; Loki then manipulated the Hulk into wreaking havoc using an illusion of dynamite on train tracks, while in astral form in an attempt to lure Thor to Earth, which inadvertently led to the formation of the Avengers as several other heroes came to meet the Hulk.
Thor was one of the founding members of this superhuman team, and often led them in battle against his brother. Several times Loki, while not directly battling Thor himself, caused threats for Thor to battle.
Loki's destiny to be the cause of Ragnarok was later recounted. Loki returned from his exile in space, but was then stripped of his powers and exiled to Earth by Odin. Loki plotted to gain new powers from Karnilla; however, this accidentally created the Wrecker, who gained Asgardian powers when he was mistaken for Loki after knocking him out and putting on his helmet just before Karnilla appeared in response to Loki's ritual.
Loki later took command of Asgard during the Odinsleep, using his right as the 'son' of Odin before Thor could claim it, but fled when Asgard was invaded by Mangog as he realized that this new foe was too powerful.
Loki later usurped the throne of Asgard by taking the Odinring, but fled again when Asgard was invaded by Surtur. He subsequently attempted to destroy Thor by switching bodies with him, leaving him with Thor's raw strength against Thor's inexperienced use of his magic, but Thor was able to regain his true appearance by tricking Loki into throwing Mjolnir away so that it became stuck in a cliff, causing Thor's body to return to the form of Donald Blake and allowing Thor to regain control of his true form.
Much later, Loki usurped the throne of Asgard again, and set the Destroyer against Thor once more. Shortly after that, Loki caused the temporary death of Balder, as he had conspired with Hela to cause Ragnarok if his last plan failed. At this time, Loki's estranged wife Sigyn returned to Asgard. When Loki was chained and a viper dripped poison onto his face as punishment for killing Balder, Sigyn tried helping him. Loki attempted to bring about Ragnarok, but was foiled by Odin. Alongside Tyr and his forces, Loki stole the golden apples of Idunna and invaded Asgard with help from the Midgard serpent, but then changed sides and aided Odin's forces in defeating Tyr.
Despite Loki's hatred of his foster brother and father, Loki helped to defend Asgard from destruction from Surtur and his fire demons. This was because Surtur's goal was to destroy Asgard, whereas Loki sought only to rule it. Alongside Odin and Thor, Loki battled Surtur, and witnessed the seeming demise of Odin.
Over the years, Loki has undergone a number of seeming deaths, resurrections, and reincarnations, appearing to be a woman at one point, a young boy another. He has had his memory wiped and restored, and has even tried to be one of the good guys. It's all very convoluted, and not really that pertinent to his cinematic counterpart, so I won't get into it at length here.
As to his powers and abilities, Loki is a member of the race of Frost Giants of Jotunheim, although not a giant in stature. He possesses physical attributes equal to a fit average member of the race of superbeings known as Asgardians, such as enhanced strength; stamina; durability enough to harmlessly withstand high-caliber bullets; and immunity to all known diseases and toxins, as well as some resistance to magic.
Loki has extensive training in magic, and possesses the ability to manipulate magical forces for a variety of purposes: energy projection, creation of force fields, temporarily increasing his own physical strength, granting superhuman abilities to living beings or inanimate objects, flight, hypnosis, illusion casting, and inter-dimensional teleportation.
Loki is an adept shapeshifter and can change into animals or impersonate other people, such as Thor or Captain America. However, he does not necessarily gain the abilities of whatever he turns into, although minor natural abilities such as flight in bird form tend to work. He has also turned clouds into dragons, and animated trees to attack Thor.
Aside from his mystical abilities, Loki possesses a brilliant intellect. However, his arrogance, his passionate hatred of Thor, and all-consuming lust for power greatly impeded his ability to bring his well-laid plans to fruition. He is an expert manipulator and schemer, is sometimes armed with a sword, a whip, or a three-pronged spear and has used magical items to enhance his powers.
Tom Hiddleston portrayed Loki as the main antagonist of the first Thor movie to great effect, reprising the role for The Avengers. It has been stated that Loki will return in Thor 2, but will not be the main antagonist.
So, how's the figure? Excellent. There's also an interesting comparison to be made between the Loki of the 4" scale line, and the Loki of the 6" scale line that is exclusive to Walmart, relative to the other figures in their respective lines.
In the 4" scale line, Loki stands distinctly taller than average. If one considers Captain American to be of relatively "average" height, then in the 4" scale line, he stands very slightly over 4", while Loki is more like 4-3/8" - not counting the horns on his helmet - and as such is roughly the same height as his adoptive brother Thor, if clearly not having as powerful a physique.
Conversely, in the 6" scale line, Loki is about the same height as the "average" humans, if not just very slightly shorter, and is distinctly shorter than his intentionally taller brother. Somehow, this seems fitting, since Thor is a much more physical character than his brother, who is more adept at scheming and getting others to do the physical work.
Nevertheless, one might wonder -- which is more correct? Well -- the backstory does say Loki is capable of shapeshifting. He can probably add a bit to his height whenever he feels like it.
The face sculpt is superb. Not only is it an excellent likeness of the character and actor, but the facial expression couldn't be better. Loki's expression is one of bored superiority. He knows he's better than everyone else around him, and just simply isn't interested in anything other than how he can rule them.
Loki's hair was rather long in the movie, and although this figure is molded with the helmet as part of the head, there's a little bit of black hair showing in the back. The two curved horns on the helmet are massive, actually raising the figure's full height to 5" if you include this particular detail.
Loki's outfit is ornate, if not as ornate as Thor's. Traditionally in the comics, Loki has tended to dress in green and gold, and that has been carried over to the cinematic character, although Loki does not dress in the tights that his comic counterpart has often been seen in.
Rather, Loki appears to be wearing a long dark green and dark gold coat, with an angled tunic underneath, also dark green with dark gold trim. There is some lighter green trim in the mix, as well. Underneath all of this, Loki is wearing dark green leggings, and black boots with gold trim and dark green knee pads. The coat has broad, dark gold shoulder epaulets, from which a lighter green cape hangs.
It's actually a fairly complex outfit, in part because it doesn't in any way resemble a conventional super-hero costume, but the toy has been designed superbly well. The coat has been designed as a vest, which fits over the arms, and then the cape, a separately molded piece, has been attached to this. The tunic as it appears in the movie has been shortened slightly to allow for better leg articulation.
Many of the costume elements have sculpted detail in them, which has been very nicely done. And the gold trim has, for the most part, been very neatly painted, although there are a few areas on the arms where I wonder if it might have been painted by hand instead of through a stencil. In either case, it doesn't suffer from any lack of neatness.
Of course, Loki has excellent articulation. The figure is fully poseable at the head, arms, elbows, legs, and knees. The elbows and knees also have a swivel rotation to them. None of the flexible uniform pieces hinder the articulation in any way.
Loki does come with an accessory, the "Cosmic Spear" that increases his power and gives him certain abilities in the Avengers movie. It's an intricately designed piece, and huge, over 5-1/4" in length, mostly gold with a silver tip, and blue detailing representing the piece of the tesseract that Loki employs.
Very weirdly, it's actually far larger than the same item that comes with the 6" Loki figure, which is only 4" in length. However, one assumes that this Cosmic Spear is somewhat adjustable, and doubtless the smaller one that comes with the larger figure was a budgetary consideration.
And Loki also comes with a second accessory. There has to be something to appeal to the kids. This is also a staff-like weapon, very ornate in design. Looks like something Loki might have stolen from Eternia, but I suppose Asgard is just as regal. It's slightly over 4" in height, and has ornate, axe-like blades at both ends. One end has additional "snap-out" blades, but they're not spring-loaded. They have to be popped out by hand.
Any complaints? None. The closest I can come to any sort of criticism is my previous statement that it seems a little hard to find a Loki with evenly painted eyes, and there is the fact that the cape is molded in such a way as to make it appear it's waving a bit to one side. But it is not doing so all that drastically, so I can't really complain about it.
So, what's my final word? The Avengers movie definitely deserves its lofty place as box office champion. It's an excellent film. But without the menace of Loki and his alien army, the heroes would've spent the whole time carping at each other, and that gets old pretty quick. A single villain against a team of heroes may seem like unfair odds, but Loki was definitely up to the challenge.
And certainly, the figure of him is excellent, and if you're collecting the Avengers, then you need to have their main adversary. And if the footage during the end credits is accurate, then the Avengers are going to be facing someone else entirely in the next movie, so you should really get Loki now. I believe any fan of the Avengers will be pleased with this figure.
COSMIC SPEAR LOKI from the AVENGERS movie line of action figures definitely has my highest recommendation!