DC vs. Marvel – The Joker vs. Loki
DC vs. Marvel: The Joker vs. Loki
Background: Two of DC and Marvel’s flagship villains go head to head in a match up that will critique their abilities, social relevance and overall storyline. The Joker is one of the most renowned and widely publicized villains in the comic world. The arch nemesis of Batman, this clown prince is a vicious psychopath who kills for amusement and tortures the innocent, all in a day’s work. His first official appearance was in 1941 but it’s his 1951 Detective Comics introduction that gave birth to The Joker we all know. This initial transformation occurs as the “Red Hood” when he is chased by Batman and falls into a vat of chemicals, turning his skin white, his hair green and putting a permanent grin on his face. The Joker is one of the few characters to have never had his true name or origins revealed, aside from a segment in The Killing Joke where it’s been said that he’s lied so much about his past that he doesn’t remember the actual story. He’s done serious damage in Gotham city with the infamous attack on Barbara Gordon that led to her paralysis, the brutal murder of Jason Todd (the second Robin) as well as the murder of Jim Gordon’s wife. Wherever there is pure mayhem and a sadistic act of violence in Gotham City there is The Joker.
Loki is another titan of his own universe and has his own twisted and doomed back-story. Loki is the Asgardian God of Mischief and like the Joker he’s often seen in sadistic acts of humor. His origin story is less funny and more relatable to the casual audience. Loki was the son of Laufey, the King of the Frost Giants and was adopted by Odin after he slayed Laufey in battle. All his life Loki was overshadowed by his brother Thor, both in admiration by their people and love from their parents. It was this growing jealous that lured Loki into the world of sorcery and mischievous tricks, many times directed at Thor throughout their childhood into adulthood. Odin’s reveal to Loki that he was in fact adopted confirmed all of Loki’s growing suspicions and eventually led to his transformation into darkness. As he grew older he moved away from being a trickster and into the realm of dark sorcery, battling Thor for the throne of Asgard through countless battles. Odin than imprisoned him with spells until Loki broke free and learned black magic from the Sorcerer Eldred, never looking back.
Both backgrounds are great in their own right but The Joker’s more polarizing moments and sadistic hobbies win him the first point.
Point: The Joker
Skills: The Joker’s real skills lie within his mind as he’s a master manipulator that can outwit Batman from time to time. He has genius level intellect and is a master chemist, anarchist, and tactician as well as a lethal engineer. He relies on his creativity to form complex bombs and traps for the residents of Gotham City. He’s also surprisingly skilled at hand to hand combat, though he does use it as a last resort.
Loki’s abilities are superhuman and littered with sorcery and magic. He has an advanced lifespan that attributes to increased strength and immunity to conventional diseases and injury. His reputation as the most powerful sorcerer in Asgard yields way to his teleportation, hypnosis, telepathy and shape shifting abilities, as well as a molecular energy blast. He can attach severed limbs to his own body and even open up rifts between dimensions allowing him to travel to wherever he desires.
Loki wins this one with the originality of his overwhelming powers
Affiliations: Loki served as the main villain in The Acts of Vengeance crossover which pitted him against The Avengers. He was also part of the Cabal as well as using spells to impersonate hundreds of other characters to appear in a lot of crossover story lines. The Joker is one of the founders of the Injustice League that ultimately does battle with their rival, The Justice League. This has also spawned Injustice League Unlimited and Injustice League International.
Both have interesting affiliations and both have been either the founder or the leader of a group attack against the Justice League and The Avengers. What stands out most to me is the depth and interest in these two comic runs, and Loki’s charge on The Avengers in Acts of Vengeance is one of the more memorable comic moments.
Apparel/Weapons: His weapons are often a play on comedic magic tricks but are usually deadly. Items like a poison gas flower, a bladed deck of cards, a joy buzzer and a gigantic handgun are used at his disposal from time to time. His weapons of choice are mostly blades or something that could easily be used in hand to hand combat such as crowbars or metal pipes. His run in comics has seen everything from conventional weaponry to original and dangerous concoctions that could only come from the twisted mind of The Joker. His apparel is iconic in its appearance and often worn by millions of people during Halloween parties and Comic conventions. His trademark clown paint is accompanied by murky green hair, a deck of cards and a purple suit.
Loki uses the Norn stones or Asgardian herbs in order to help advance his physical and magical powers. He’s used a sword in certain incarnations as well as a staff but relies heavily on his sorcery and dark magic. His apparel looks like that of a God as he dons Asgardian armor and his trademark horned helmet.
While Loki’s appearance is God-like in stature it’s The Joker’s iconic apparel that makes this an easy choice.
Point: The Joker
Social Relevance: Both villains have been able to stay relevant at the top of their respective comic universes and both have been portrayed in comics, TV and film. The Joker has turned into a symbol of chaos over the years as he’s become the definition of iconic. Heath Ledger’s incarnation on the big screen saw an even greater advance in his popularity as his face is still seen plastered on shirts, phone cases and posters in stores and homes. It was Nolan’s interpretation that tied The Joker into the realm of the modern day terrorist, both in his anarchical ways and the social commentary of the film. “Why so serious” has become the trademark phrase that brought out a lot of the inner mischief within fans of the character. The Joker showed his strong social relevance when he was ranked #2 in IGN’s top 100 comic villains list as well as #48 on AFI’s top 50 villains list for Heath Ledger’s role in The Dark Knight. Loki’s social relevance is right up there with The Joker’s as he was ranked #8 on the same IGN top 100 villain’s list and is one of Marvel’s signature characters. He has also seen a boost in popularity after Tom Hiddleston’s performance in the 2011 film and again in 2012’s The Avengers. Marvel was so inspired by his performance that they chose him to lead the assault against Earth’s Mightiest Heroes over other new or pre-established villains. His comic run has led to multiple appearances and crossovers and his staying power is just as strong as The Joker’s. I think that one of the draws that Loki has with the modern day audience is that he’s a foster child who was adopted and unsure of his place in the world. That feeling of loneliness and betrayal is something that resonates inside a lot of people and it’s easy to connect with his character’s transition. We feel bad to the point where we can even sympathize with him before he turns completely evil and hellbent on destruction and mischief.
This one was another tough one but at the end of the day it’s The Joker’s popularity and connection to our society that gives him the edge as you’d be hard pressed to find another villain as popular as him.
Point: The Joker
WINNER: The Joker
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