Something I noticed about Loki’s “flying monkeys” in a recent Avengers rewatch:

1) In the oft-used clip right before the car chase, Loki doubles over and stumbles on his way out of SHIELD’s base. This moment has been meta’d to death about its implications regarding Loki’s physical as well as mental health, and what that might imply about where Loki was just prior to the movie and how friendly his allies may have actually been. I’m not gonna go into that.

I’m more interested in the random SHIELD suit right behind him, who catches up when he sees Loki stumble and lends a literal hand to support him. Loki has already regained his feet by the time the agent catches up, but he still reaches out and lays his hand on Loki’s back. Maybe it’s the same kind of “c’mon, let’s get going” nudge that one often sees security personnel doing with dallying VIP’s, but it reads as more supportive and protective than that.

2) Back at the temporary lab/lair, Selvig lights up as soon as he sees Loki and greets him with the same cheerfulness and familiarity as he might Thor. Maybe he’s just in a good mood from being high on the Tesseract or whatever. Maybe it’s just Selvig being Selvig. But Loki himself seems to be on friendly, familiar terms, as far as Selvig is concerned.

Conclusion: The Glowstick of Destiny doesn’t just play with free will, like most mind-whammies in sci-fi/fantasy. It creates emotional bonds - feelings of not just obedience and deference, but also of care and connection. The loyalty it inspires has an emotional foundation, which is probably what allows it to largely preserve the personalities of the whammy’d rather than simply overwriting them with obedient automatons.

It is impossible to know how much influence Loki has over the nature of the spell. The scepter isn’t his, so it stands to reason that this function is also fairly unfamiliar to him, and largely out of his direct control. But if he does have some control over how the spell takes hold, is this how he enacts it, consciously or not? By creating allies that will be not only minions, but caretakers and companions?

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