Marvel’s Thor: The Dark World will be in theaters on November 8th in the United States, although it's been premiering all over the world outside the U.S. for the past month. In red carpet interviews, it stars, Chris Hemsworth and Tom Hiddleston, seem to have an easy friendship, which is in direct contrast to the troubled relationship their characters Thor and Loki share onscreen. Their contentious sibling rivalry has been the root of the drama that fueled both 2011’s Thor movie and Marvel’s The Avengers movie, as well. The trailers for Thor: The Dark World seem to indicate that Thor and Loki will spend at least a bit of time working side by side in this movie, even though their relationship looks to remain thorny.
Loki is my favorite character in the Marvel Universe right now, which is totally due to the fact that Tom Hiddleston plays him ( I went to see The Avengers eighteen times in the movie theater). I’m going to see it a nineteenth time on November 7th, as part of the special Thor Marathon that will include Thor, The Avengers, and the premiere of Thor: The Dark World. I am most looking forward to Thor and Loki’s scenes together partly because Hemsworth and Hiddles are just so much pretty in one frame, but mainly because my reading and viewing history has taught me that familial strife can lead to some of the best stories. There’s just so much angst, misery, snark and even begrudging loyalty that comes with warring family members. And if the stories include sorcery, royalty and/or Gods, similar to Loki and Thor, they seem to be all the better! They can be found in different mediums, across various genres and can run the gamut from comedy to tragedy.
One of the funniest ways sibling rivalry has been used is in Mary Janice Davidson's Undead series. The series took a dark turn towards the middle of it but the earlier books were very comedic. The main character, Betsy, turns thirty, gets laid off and gets run over by an SUV and then wakes up as a vampire. Her entire situation is played for laughs, including the relationship between her and her awful step-mother, Antonia, nicknamed “the Ant.” In the third book of the series (spoiler alert), Betsy meets her half-sister, Laura, who was born to Ant and given up for adoption. Ant doesn’t really remember that period of life because she was in a fugue state and came out of it ten months later with a baby. Turns out she had been possessed by The Devil, who was bored and decided to live as a human and have a child, and no one really noticed any difference in the Ant. Laura, was brought up by a minister and his wife and, for all intents and purposes, appears to be a very wholesome, mild-mannered, bashful, Pollyanna type character…until she gets angry. And then you find out she is the Anti-Christ. And can spontaneously form weapons made of hellfire. Laura wants to be a good person and rise above being the Devil’s kid. Betsy, however, has discovered that Laura is destined to bring about the end of the world. So, even though they weren’t brought up together, their sibling rivalry is so epic that actual fate of the world depends upon it. How much more drama could you have?
On the opposite end of the spectrum is the misery-laden relationship between Acheron and Styxx in Sherrilyn Kenyon’s Dark-Hunter series. The brothers were set up to hate each other from the very beginning, though neither of them had anything to do with the circumstances. Acheron was cursed into the womb of Styxx’s mom, to protect the world, and ends up being resented and abused by just about everyone he encounters in the whole of his life. And that includes his twin brother, Styxx. The Dark-Hunter series is massive; over thirty novels and novellas thus far that encompass the Dark-Hunter, Were-Hunter and Dream-Hunter worlds. Acheron and Styxx’s feud makes appearances throughout the series and their rivalry is legendary. But, at this point in the series, both Acheron and Styxx have both had novels that cast them as the hero. Their relationship is complicated and has been steeped in lies, guilt, pain and anguish from the beginning. But the characters have been able to find redemption and happiness, at least in some small measure. Theirs is the type of arc I’d love to see come to fruition for Thor and Loki.
In Laurell K. Hamilton’s Merry Gentry series, it’s not exactly a sibling rivalry that has been at the heart of a lot of the action in the fantasy series, but a cousin rivalry. When we meet Merry, she’s been hiding out from the other fey, living in the human world under an assumed name. Her father was assassinated and she left to the faerie world to avoid assassinations on her life. She is invited back, though, by her Aunt Andais, Queen of Air and Darkness (side-note; Andais is one of the baddest, most sadistic, fearsome villains of all time. She is a fictional character and I’m afraid of her) with an offer to ascend to the throne, with the protection of Andais’s own Royal Guard, provided she is able to produce an heir before her cousin, Andais’s son Cel. Cel has inherited a lot of his mother’s tendencies and is also certifiably insane. Tell a psychopath that his cousin might be able to take something from him that he considers his birthright and…bitter rivalry ensues.
A popular sibling rivalry that started in books has occupied the attention of the world on television for the last three years. House Lannister from HBO’s Game of Thrones, based on George R.R. Martin’s epic fantasy series A Song of Ice and Fire, contains three of the most cunning, vicious, secretive, mean-spirited and bitter siblings I’ve ever read or seen. Though the series initially appeared to be about House Stark, it has been the Lannister clan, by and large, that have been responsible for most of the backstabbing and intrigue that has fueled multiple plots within the world. Twins Cersei and Jaime and their younger brother Tyrion can present a united familial front, when needed, but are at each other’s throats as often as they are their families enemies. Martin has not yet finished writing the series so we don’t know yet how their stories will turn out or even if they will all make it to the end of the series. For now, though, we can read and/or watch how their family ties continue to both bind and divide them.
If Thor and Loki’s dealings in the new movie can live up to the drama of any of the aforementioned family conflict, I will be a happy viewer indeed (Okay, who am I kidding; the movie has Chris Hemsworth and Tom Hiddleston in it so, because I’m shallow and easy to please, I’m probably going to be happy anyway). But, maybe, if the conflict is juicy enough, it’ll be enough to satisfy all of you, too! I just know I can’t wait to see the movie and judge for myself.
What are your favorite sibling rivalries in fiction?