Marvel Cinematic Universe profile: A look at Tom Hiddleston’s career

SAN DIEGO, CALIFORNIA - JULY 20: Tom Hiddleston of Marvel Studios' 'Loki' at the San Diego Comic-Con International 2019 Marvel Studios Panel in Hall H on July 20, 2019 in San Diego, California. (Photo by Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images for Disney)
SAN DIEGO, CALIFORNIA - JULY 20: Tom Hiddleston of Marvel Studios' 'Loki' at the San Diego Comic-Con International 2019 Marvel Studios Panel in Hall H on July 20, 2019 in San Diego, California. (Photo by Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images for Disney) /

Tom Hiddleston raises the bad guy bar as Loki in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. He has played the part in the Thor trilogy as well as most of the Avengers epics.

Tom Hiddleston is a classically trained actor who became an international star in 2011. Aside from Thor, he also had parts in two of that year’s Best Picture nominees, Midnight in Paris and War Horse. One of his most notable screen roles prior to Thor was in Kenneth Branagh’s hit British series Wallander. Given that Branagh was handed the reins to direct Thor, the filmmaker clearly knew the talents of his Wallander co-star would add gravitas to the production.

Hiddleston first portrays Loki in Thor as one of his brother’s mates, fighting alongside the Asgardians against the Frost Giants. He has always been jealous of Thor, but his envy is accelerated when he learns that he is adopted. He comes close to pulling off a scheme that would have him sit on the throne, so when Thor derails those tangible dreams of grandeur, his wrath is amplified. It is clear from this introduction that Hiddleston’s Loki is more well-rounded and multi-dimensional than the previous villains in the MCU, as well as most antagonists in any superhero movie.

After Thor easily overpowers Loki and he falls from the rainbow bridge, Loki is fuming, mad and eager to retaliate against his brother and the planet he has grown fond of. Marvel choosing Loki as the villain of The Avengers not only reinforces the narrative continuity of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, it is also a testament to the strength of the character and the producers’ belief that Hiddleston would expand on the God of Mischief in impressive ways.

Kevin Feige recognized that Hiddleston could confidently share screen-time with MCU heroes in the studio’s first major collaborative epic. And boy does Hiddleston step up in The Avengers, with exceptional dialogue delivery opposite Robert Downey Jr. and Scarlett Johannsson.

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Furthermore, Hiddleston is the best part of Thor: The Dark World as the malleable dynamic between Loki and Thor is everchanging. In that film, Loki finds himself locked up for his war crimes but is in a position to help his adopted brother against an existential threat. Loki seemingly sacrifices himself for the greater good, although that too is just another ploy to place himself on the Asgardian throne.

This leads right into Hiddleston’s impactful role in Thor: Ragnarok, where Loki disguises himself as Odin, the ruler of Asgard. Thor’s return home ruins Loki’s fun and the pair take an emotional and unexpected journey together. When they land in Sakaar, of course Loki allies himself with the dictatorial Grandmaster, while Thor is captured and forced to battle in the gladiator games. In Ragnarok, Loki continues his untrustworthy streak throughout the plot, yet finally redeems himself in the end when he saves the Asgardians from the apocalyptic destruction of their home.

Loki’s past atrocities can never really be forgotten or forgiven, however his turn toward heroism is yet another angle to the increasingly complex God of Mischief. In the spectacular Avengers: Infinity War opening, Loki attempts to use his tricks against Thanos and his demise is framed through a tragic lens by occurring in front of the one person who still cares for him: Thor. Tom Hiddleston and Chris Hemsworth have always been terrific side-by-side and that final scene together in Infinity War is truly special.

Hiddleston is only able to reemerge in Avengers: Endgame when the Avengers travel back in time. A past version of Loki steals the Tesseract and escapes restraint, which will be the premise of the Loki miniseries on Disney Plus.

As noted earlier, the MCU put Tom Hiddleston in the global spotlight, but his presence was felt in the United Kingdom for many years. He has acted on the stage in Shakespeare and other plays, and would start to stand out on BBC television productions, such as The Gathering Storm and Wallander. And his superstardom would not deter Hiddleston from those types of projects; he recently returned to his hometown stage as Hamlet and starred in the successful television adaptation of John le Carre’s The Night Manager.

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For his film roles outside of the MCU, Hiddleston mixes it up between genre films and more dramatic work. He is fine in Guillermo del Toro’s gothic Crimson Peak as well as in the monster movie remake Kong: Skull Island, but gets to spread his wings when he headlines alongside Tilda Swinton in Only Lovers Left Alive.

Jim Jarmusch’s unconventional take on vampire cinema is a completely original work for that genre and a wonderfully unique platform for the lead actor’s talents to thrive in. Some of his other leading performances haven’t drawn too much attention due to weaker screenplays. The Deep Blue Sea is a copy of the better-executed Vivien Leigh version, while High-Rise remains too unfocused and disorganized to care about Hiddleston’s compelling turn. Even the Hank Williams biopic I Saw the Light is bogged down by bland, paint-by-numbers storytelling, although Hiddleston as the legendary country singer is undeniably commanding in the film; only to be topped by Elizabeth Olsen as Hank’s better half.

Tom Hiddleston’s Top 5 Movie Roles

1. Loki in the MCU
2. Hank Williams in I Saw the Light
3. Adam in Only Lovers Left Alive
4. F. Scott Fitzgerald in Midnight in Paris
5. Captain Nicholls in War Horse

The finest films that Hiddleston has been a part of outside of the MCU are Midnight in Paris and War Horse. Even with smaller roles, he is sensationally charismatic as F. Scott Fitzgerald in the former and strikingly compassionate as a British army captain in the latter. Nevertheless, Loki is perceptibly Tom Hiddleston’s greatest performance of his career so far.

Not only is Hiddleston’s Loki his best role when considering the extraordinary path he has taken throughout the Thor and Avengers films, but even individual efforts in movies like Thor, The Avengers, or Thor: Ragnarok are simply stellar.

The adventures will continue for Loki in the future as the Loki miniseries is currently expected to release next year on the Disney Plus streaming service.

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What is your favorite Tom Hiddleston role? Let us know in the comments below!