Welcome to my new series, Character Comparison! In this series, I will break down two characters from books / movies and compare them. Part of learning how to tell a story is by observing.
In today’s post, I’ll be comparing Severus Snape and Loki Laufeyson/Odinson.
Contains BIG spoilers for the Harry Potter books and Avengers: Infinity War.
To clarify– I’m referencing the MCU Loki, and the book version of Severus Snape (because I haven’t finished watching the HP movies yet).
So let’s get started.
First impressions are everything. Even in a fictional universe, a lot depends on our first impressions of a character.
Are they nice? Are they evil? Will we like them? We decide all of these things within five minutes.
In Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, the very first time we meet Snape is in chapter 7. This is right after the part with the sorting hat. Snape looks at Harry, and Harry has a “sharp, hot pain” in his scar.
Here are some things we assume about Snape right away:
- He can cause pain
- He’s mean (Professor Quirrell is nervous about talking with Snape)
- He knows a lot about Defense Against the Dark Arts
- He doesn’t like Harry. At all.
Loki’s first impressions in Thor (2011) are quite different.
The first time we see Loki is around 6 minutes into the film. Odin is telling the story of how Asgard defeated the frost giants. Kid Loki asks if the frost giants are still alive. Kid Thor says when he’s king, he wants to “Hunt the monsters down and slay them all.”
Some of the things we can assume about Loki from this scene:
- Loki is a bit invisible and overshadowed by his brother
- He’s quiet, not very threatening
- He wants to know more about the frost giants (but Odin never answers his question)
- He loves his brother, even though they are competitive.
This impression continues through the first scenes with Loki as an adult. Thor is the loud one who gets all the attention, but Loki accepts that because he loves his brother.
Loki is fine with his place in the family, until he learns that they aren’t his family at all.
Reason for Villainy
Every bad guy has a reason for being bad.
So why do they dabble in the dark side?
Loki discovers that he is a frost giant, and this discovery destroys his faith in his father.
Not only did Odin hide the truth about Loki’s history, but he told stories about killing the frost giants. Both Thor and Loki call the frost giants “monsters.” Loki was brought up hating his own race.
Towards the end of the movie, Loki tries to destroy the frost giants. His reason? “To prove to Father that I am a worthy son.”
Turns out, Odin still would not love him, and Loki falls into the void of space, presumably killing himself.
When we see him again, Loki has turned to the Chitauri (and Thanos) to get what he wants– recognition and revenge.
We don’t learn why Snape acts bad until late in the series.
Severus Snape is in love with Lily Potter, Harry’s mother, and when he discovers that Lily is in danger, Snape begs Dumbledore for help.
Dumbledore tells Snape that yes, Lily is dead, but if Snape truly loved her, he would protect Lily’s son.
At this moment, Snape agrees to act as a double agent, to make sure Lily’s death was not in vain.
Interactions with Others
Let’s keep this one short.
Snape is so good at acting like a Death Eater, he is literally Neville’s worse fear. There are a few times when you think he might be good, but for the most part, he’s a jerk.
Loki can be very charming when he wants something. He also likes to make himself sound important (telling everyone to kneel, for example). Overall, he’s good at communicating what he wants.
The Turning Point
When do they become good?
In Thor: Ragnarok, Loki’s character growth starts to show. He realizes that there are some bad villains in the world, and he needs to keep Thor safe. Even though they’re different, Thor and Loki are still family.
The character change in this movie is incredibly important, because in Avengers: Inifinity War, Loki decides to give up the tesseract, in order to save Thor.
Snape’s turning point comes much closer to the end. Voldemort kills Snape, in order to get the full power of the Elder Wand. With his last words, Snape tells Harry to save his memories. In the memories, Harry learns (in retrospect) that Snape was good all along.
I could have kept writing for another hundred pages about these characters. I love this type of character, the “black haired dude working for the dark lord but turns against the dark lord at the last second and dies a hero’s death.”
But between these two characters, I prefer Loki.
Snape was fine as a bad guy, but his obsession with Lily was not heroic. It made him intriguing, but for me, it wasn’t enough to make him a hero.
Snape didn’t seem to enjoy anything, whereas Loki was always having fun. (Up until Infinity War, that is.) Loki enjoyed being the bad guy, and he also enjoyed being the good guy. That made him much more fun to watch.
Beyond that, I believe it’s a matter of personal preference.
Loki or Snape? Which do you prefer?