Often we hear in Loki fanon about what a terrible father Odin was. That he was hard on his boys. That he expected too much. That he was particularly hard on Loki.
People who state this seem to be coming from a position of trying to fit Odin (and all of Asgard) into the role of contemporary fatherhood. However, Asgard is a race of warriors. The thematic elements established, especially in the movies, seem more akin to Shakespeare or Game of Thrones than Modern Family or Parenthood.
Even if we go back thirty years, the fact is, fathers and mothers often smacked their kids. I’m not arguing they should have, but society evolves forward. We wouldn’t necessarily call every single parent or nun from the 1950s who smacked a kid for saying a bad word a horribly abusive, especially if we take the viewpoint of someone who lived in the culture.
Because of this, when we examine Odin, as well as all of Asgard, we need to take it from the standpoint of a society with a monarchy and war.
Comparing Asgard to Tudor controlled Britain, we see a time where children were seen and not heard, where heirs were taught to fight with pointy-pointy weapons, and expected to go into war, to be able to take a hit. Where you didn’t question your parents. Where children, as soon as they were a toddler, were sent AWAY from both their parents to their own estate. The closest thing they’d know to a parent would really be their attendants: tutors, nannies, etc..
If contemporary parents did this, took their teenager and put them in Fight Club, sent the kid away to only be trotted out for special occasions, we absolutely might point out the flaws in parenting this way.. Once again, society has evolved. But for those living in that era, they likely wouldn’t understand why we’d call it abuse.
Jousting killed people, and they did that for FUN. It’s modern day NASCAR, but a whole lot bloodier. Imagine, for a second, what happens in a warrior society when they’re taking things seriously. Early in the history of the United States, dueling was still a construct. We had people who were trying to become the president who dueled. It wasn’t considered murder. And if you said no, you were branded a coward, which tarnished your entire reputation. And in the American West, shooting people who cheated or stole from you was considered absolutely lawful.
Henry the VIII, was, by all standards.. the same kind of prick Odin was – a royal warrior who at times killed people he viewed as enemies/for political gain, and who took the notion of his heir extremely seriously (to the point that he burned through wives with insane speed). Does Henry VIII being a prick mean that we excuse his daughter Mary from reinstating the heresy laws that burned hundreds of people? She is still to be held accountable for her actions, even though they could be seen as her clinging to Catholicism as her mother was a devout Catholic, and her father seeking to overturn papal doctrine just so he could REJECT her mother. We understand her motivations, certainly, but we don’t offer her cuddles and tell her it’s okay she decided to burn people alive. Within context, however, Protestants of the time hated her, Catholics viewed her as something of a savior, bringing the purity back to their country.
Also, we must look at the Vikings. Alien Asgard is not the same as Asgard in myth, but they do take many constructs from it. They consider women with a higher standard than many other eras of history. And, once again, as a entire culture, it was expected that you learn to fight. A “conscientious objector” to violence would most likely be driven from their clan for cowardice. And if you get killed in battle, it is considered a good way to die, it brought honor to your entire family.
The expectations of Viking parents would be the same in any household. Expectation of the Kings or thane’s children would vary. While they would have the advantages of wealth, and the people surrounding them might not want to fight and risk the wrath of the Thane, they would have the expectations of being able to take a defensive and offensive position, as well as the expectations put on them by being royalty.
The framework, therefore, is important when assessing Asgardians. If we’re going to state that yelling at your children, hitting your children is abuse no matter what the context, then the vast majority of parents before the Industrial Revolution (and the introduction of child labor laws, and the very concept OF childhood), would be considered abusers. But that was just life to them.
So too, was it just life for Loki. Exploring our world, both Thor and Loki consider mortal humans beneath him. Likely, they wouldn’t understand the concepts of childhood, adolescence, and what our contemporary viewpoints see as abuse and murder.
Now, I will say this this can be used to provide a stance for both canon Loki and fanon Loki viewpoints. Clearly, for the canon side, we are provided with something to point to that undermines the argument of abuse, because that would be been considered normal. We can rant and rail about how being normal doesn’t make it right (true), but that doesn’t change the fact that from Loki’s perspective, his schema, would have been that this is just what happens.
The other side of this is that, considering Loki comes from a warrior culture that shrugs off taking some hits, is it any wonder he is willing to become like the Vikings of our history, and stomp all over another land? While Odin was trying to teach his boys not to do that (per scene in Thor), he has modeled that behavior in the past. The rub here is that when discussing Loki’s transgressions against Earth, in comes the human viewpoint. The members of the Avengers, as well as all of Earth, will see Loki as the villain, because human society views conquerors and enslavers as villains.
While considering Loki, we need to delve into both. We feel bad for someone who has lived a life at war, whether it is actual war or the war of survival in an abusive household, but when they pick up a gun and shoot up a post office, or kill their wife through domestic battery, we still incarcerate them. We might refrain from vilifying them due to circumstance, but we still believe they should be kept away from the populace, for the public’s safety as well as for punishment.
The question then becomes, would Loki see himself as abused? Unlikely. Slighted, surely, because we are presented with his viewpoint as being second in line for the throne, a position to which he feels entitled. Anger at the discovery of his origins, at being lied to, yes. The well of anger he draws from again and again seems to be from his standing in the world. Whether or not the actions he takes are seen as good or bad depends how the history is written, and history is written by the winner. Something Loki endeavors to become.
The other question is, would Loki consider himself a villain? Also unlikely, although antagonists seldom see themselves as the antagonists. He’d likely see himself as doing what he has to do, that his ends, no matter what they are, will justify the means. However, Loki wishes to be respected, viewed as having great strength, rather than seen as a victim. He doles out plenty of blame, but he sees what he does as taking what is rightfully his. He doesn’t bury his head in his gloriously purposeful cape and cry about it. In fact, in The Avengers, we’re left with the distinct impression that Loki knows he’s gone too far. Instead of being apologetic, he embraces the role of transforming from slighted heir to murderous dictator.