its 2013 and people still see loki as misunderstood and sad
loki’s a dick
that’s his whole thing
he’s the norse god of mischief
he’s basically the norse god of being an asshole
This is a pretty brief response, but in short:
1. Changing moral standards, especially regarding sex, gender roles, the role of punishment, and prejudice, have added disturbing layers to several of Loki’s myths. What was once seen as funny and morally unproblematic is now horrifying and evil, and we sympathize (or empathize) as a result. This is no different than how we’ve come to understand certain Greek myths through moderns lens of feminism, consent, and what constitutes sexual assault.
2. Marvel’s movies are certainly part of it. The first Thor movie is upsetting to many people, because of how Loki’s adoption, his internalized racism, and his treatment by others is portrayed, as well as the inconsistent moral judgment of the movie.
(Thor wants to kill the frost giants, Odin took off with the casket after the war of killing frost giants, Loki wants to kill the frost giants - all are problematic and all have some justification, but why are Loki’s actions subject to narrative scrutiny that his brother’s and father’s are not?)
Some people see Loki’s story as one of a minority child who has been raised by privileged individuals, and who has been wounded as a result. Others see echoes and implications of dysfunctional and emotionally abusive family dynamics. Especially if they were raised in similar situations.
(Loki as a survivor of well-meaning but still toxic family is a common theme in many fanfics. Perhaps that’s because there is a deficit of complex portrayals of unintentionally abusive families. People need to tell stories about what they’ve been through, to reclaim, to process, and to validate their experiences. )
3. Hiddleson’s Loki is young, insecure, and vulnerable in addition to his clever trickster’s nature. A less complex Loki might not have garnered such sympathy. Many Loki stans picked up on the vulnerability of Hiddleson’s performance,but are not good at untangling why they feel sorry for Loki, or not good at articulating it.
4. tl;dr people empathize with him, that’s why.