Even if you haven’t yet seen Avengers: Infinity War you’ve probably picked up on the vibe that not everything ends happy. Well before the film’s release there were charts out detailing which characters were safe, which ones in danger, and which ones we definitely expected to die. Even my cousin, who’s outside the MCU Fandom, wanted to see it because she had to find out who lived and who died.
Warning: Mild Spoilers Follow For Avengers: Infinity War
While the film has been well received overall, some are describing the deaths that do happen (and in some cases the whole movie) as pointless because we “know” pretty much how this is going to go. Coulson and Loki have already come back from death scenes in the MCU. It’s something we expect from the genre. And some of the characters that died at the end have sequel movies that are filming right now. We assume they won’t stay dead, and so might conclude that their deaths don’t matter.
It’s also been quite a shock to see earth’s and the galaxy’s mightiest heroes lose such an important battle. This isn’t the end of the story, since a sequel film is coming in May 2018, but the only one who gets a happy ending in this film is Thanos. This isn’t just the Empire scattered the rebellion and Han Solo is frozen in carbonite. This is Darth Vader got exactly what he wanted and retired to Mustafar to spend the rest of his life watching lava bubble.
Second Warning: Major Spoilers Follow For Avengers: Infinity War
With Thor: Ragnarok now out, it seemed like a good time for another Fictional MBTI post, especially since Ragnarok is so good. Who would have thought a film about the destruction of Asgard and fall of the gods (that’s not a spoiler — it’s Norse mythology) could be so light-hearted and fun?
I’ve been typing Thor as an ESTP since the first film came out, which I think is pretty much the standard typing for him (please note: I’m only typing the MCU version of Thor, not his character in the comics or mythology). Still, just because there’s not much debate about his type doesn’t mean we can’t give him his own post. There are several different nicknames for this type, and for Thor I decided to go with “Adventurer” rather than the more commonly used David Keirsey nickname “Promoter.”
A Man of Action
ESTP types lead with a mental process called Extroverted Sensing (Se). Fittingly, this is the most visible aspect of Thor’s character in the films. SP types are doers. They thrive on taking action in the real world and they’re good at it. Really good. In fact, I’d venture a guess that most action heroes in fiction are SP types, especially STP types. It’s not that they can’t pause for reflection or plan ahead. It’s that they don’t really see the need since things usually work out so well for them.
ESTPs have a reputation for being thrill-seekers, and it’s not hard to see why. Their dominant Se seeks variety and physical stimulation. They like to take risks, yet they are so aware of their physical surroundings and their limits that they are probably the smartest physical risk-takers around. They have a natural awareness for what their body can or can’t do, paired with quick reflexes, and an ability to keep their wits in a crisis.” — Susan Storm, Understanding ESTP Sensing
This side of Thor’s character is at the forefront in the new film as well as his past appearances. In Ragnarok’s opening scene, he even comments that fighting against overwhelming odds without a real plan seems to always work out for him. And not only does it work out, he’s clearly enjoying himself. He thrives on challenge and risk-taking.
I’m going to skip over an ESTP’s co-pilot process for now and talk about their tertiary side. It’s tempting for any type to bypass their secondary function and spend more time in their less-developed tertiary side because that lets them stay in their preference for introversion or extroversion. For example, an ESTP’s primary and tertiary functions are both extroverted, while their secondary one is introverted.
Extroverted Feeling (Fe) isn’t all that well-developed or reliable for ESTPs. It can lead to bad decisions based on doing things that will make them look good to or fit in with the people around them (Fe is a process focused on harmony in relationships). Thor is clearly enjoying his social position in the opening scenes of the first film and I suspect that a large part of how he acts is because “reckless military leader” is the persona people expect (though I doubt he’s analyzed it that much). We also see him using his Fe to connect with people on earth as the charming gentleman Jane Foster falls in love with.
Learning After Doing
ESTPs learn best by doing. They’re not the sort to listen to lectures or spend a lot of time planing. They’d rather do something and see how it works out, then adjust future actions accordingly. Until something doesn’t work out there’s not much of a reason for them to spend time figuring out why. Which leads us to a discussion of an ESTP’s secondary function, Introverted Thinking (Ti).
Most people start to develop their secondary function in their teens, but it’s not a comfortable process for people to be in so we don’t always focus on growing it until we have to. For ESTPs, this “co-pilot” is a judging function that they use when making decisions. Ti is concerned with figuring out what makes sense, aligning to personal convictions, and impartially looking at facts. Thor starts doing this when his exile from Asgard in his first film forces him to look at the sort of decisions he’s been making and re-think his actions.
We do also get glimpses of an ESTP’s healthy thinking side in Thor’s character. People of this type can be incredibly clever and intelligent, though they’re often underestimated because so many outsiders just see their action-oriented side. An example from the first film is when he’s explaining the science behind Bifrost travel to Jane. He makes it look easy, but he’s managing to translate two completely different cultural way to framing the world (science and magic) in a way that makes perfect sense to an earth scientist. And in Ragnarok, we get a conversation between him and Bruce Banner where Thor effortlessly keeps up with and understands the scientific terminology used by a man with multiple PhDs.
Stress And The ESTP
Being cast out of Asgard in the first film, and especially learning that Mjölnir doesn’t see him as worthy anymore, pushes Thor into his least developed function. For ESTPs, that’s Introverted Intuition (Ni). When intuition is a type’s stress function, stressful situations tends to confuse their normally clear thought process and they may become angry, paranoid, or feel hopeless. It typically doesn’t take ESTPs long to bounce back, though, which helps explain why Thor’s despondency only lasts until he’s given a chance to take action and fight back.
What’s really interesting about Thor of the MCU films is that this version of his brother Loki is an INFJ type. Making Loki and Thor complete opposites in their personalities means they use the exact same mental functions in the opposite order. Thor’s weakest mental process is Loki’s strongest (INFJs lead with Ni), and vice-versa. No wonder they’re constantly butting heads and struggling to understand each other.
If you enjoyed this post, check out my other MCU typings:
A few weeks ago I observed something curious in one of the personality type groups I frequent on Facebook. One member started a discussion about what kind of villain different personality types would be and there were a few types they didn’t even list. Their assumption was that most Feeling types wouldn’t become villains and especially not NF or FP types.
Rather than bask in the knowledge that we’re the lest villainous type a surprisingly high number of NFs jumped into the comments to defend our ability to turn evil. Most of their comments went something like this: “Well, I wouldn’t personally be a villain, but I could be because *insert reasons.* And on top of that, *insert fictional or real name* is a villain of my type.” I laughed at the number of INFJs who reminded people that Hitler was an INFJ while at the same time reassuring people they don’t feel Hitler-ish tendencies themselves.
Who Gets To Be The Villain?
I dare say when most people think about villains, they think of a detached mastermind. There’s a ridiculously high percentage of NT type villains (and correspondingly few NT heroes; it’s even harder to find heroic INTJs in fiction than it is to find NF villains). In real life, of course, people of any personality type can lean more towards the best version or the worst version of their type. No one personality type is inherently “better” than any other. However, society does stereotype certain characteristics associated with types as better or worse.
Prioritizing other’s safety over your own, a characteristic most commonly associated with FJ types, is often seen as a heroic trait. Hence, we see characters like Captain America with an ISFJ personality type. But what if you have an ISFJ character who decides only a certain group of people (or even just one person) is more valuable and it’s their duty to protect them? Suddenly the heroic trait doesn’t seem so safe any more. Especially when you consider the prime example of a villainous ISFJ is Norman Bates from Psycho. Read more →
My first Fictional MBTI post was about Loki, and though it wasn’t the most complete or polished post it quickly became the most active in terms of comments. Even now, over a year and a half later, people are still posting new insights and observations on Loki’s character. And when the latest comments are more in-depth than the original post, it’s time for an update.
Quick note: my typing for Loki is wholly based on the Marvel Cinematic Universe, not on the comics or on Norse mythology. Loki is a controversial figure to type (as those 40 commends on the last post can attest), and his instability further complicates things. Also, I suspect Tom Hiddleston is an NF type, which would color his depiction of Loki.
The letters “INFJ” stand for Introvert, iNtuitive, Feeling and Judging. This means INFJs lead with a function called Introverted Intuition (called “Perspectives” in the Personality Hacker system). Introverted Intuition is a perceiving function that takes in and processes information, and is particularly interested in things that can’t be directly experienced. Intuition is great at pattern recognition and extrapolating future possibilities, and I’ve never seen anyone argue Loki is not an Intuitive.
In INFJs, Introverted Intuition is supported by the decision-making function Extroverted Feeling (or “Harmony”). Types that use Extroverted Feeling are extremely good at reading people, and many INFJs say they can literally feel other peoples emotions. Typically, this results in a type that will avoid conflict at any cost because they don’t want to hurt people and because interpersonal tension hurts them as much as it does anyone else (contrary to popular belief, INFJs can be quite selfish). Loki has been avoiding conflict for most of his life — we just see him when he reaches the snapping point. You can see Loki’s Feeling side when he’s manipulating people (this comes easily for types that understand emotions and motivations), when he’s interacting with his mother, and in several scenes with Thor.
Speaking of manipulation, it is here that we see Loki fit David Keirsey’s description of INFJs as “The Counselor.” Loki gets power by counseling other people in ways that prompt them to play into his plans. His counsel sends Thor to Jotunheim, cripples Thor with guilt and strands him on earth, subverts The Avengers for a while, directs Malekith’s Kursed lieutenant, sets-up the circumstances allowing him to fake his death, and encourages Thor at the end of Dark World to feel comfortable moving to earth. Loki is frequently typed as an ENTP or ENTJ because of his more theatrical, trickster side and his portrayal in the comics (just for reference, Magneto is an example of an ENTJ villain), but I think in the films that’s a show Loki puts on when it suits him. At his core, he’s much more subtle and would rather control from behind the scenes to a certain extent and use people as puppets instead of leading out in the open.
INFJs who are stressed can effectively “turn-off” their compassion for a while and move to their inferior thinking function, and it’s not pretty when that happens. Introverted Thinking (or “Accuracy”) is an INFJ’s tertiary function, and provides a logical core that can make impersonal decisions. It’s still a subjective function, and is concerned about what makes sense to the individual, rather than with making sense to anyone else. If Loki can explain his actions to himself, he doesn’t feel the need to explain them to anyone else. That’s how INFJs think when they reach a point where they don’t care anymore (though even then there’s still a deep, central part of themselves that desperately wants human connection and affirmation).
Extroverted Sensing (or “Sensation”) is an INFJ’s inferior function. It’s the one we use least effectively, but also the one we end up spending the most time in when we’re stressed. This is where Loki lives for most of the movies.
Everything Loki does as an adult is informed by his childhood, which we have very little information about. From the first Thor film, we see that Odin told Thor and Loki, “Only one of you can ascend to the throne. But both of you were born to be kings!” Loki was pushed toward learning to rule, but then he was told he could never fill that role no matter how hard he tried. From Thor: The Dark World we know Freya was the one who trained him in magic, which is a much more INFJ-type weapon, but that still didn’t give him the approval he desperately craved from his father Odin.
Normally as a maturing INFJ, you develop your primary function Introverted Intuition first, become comfortable with your secondary Extroverted Feeling function as you become a teenager, start using tertiary Introverted Thinking in your late 20s or early 30s, then maybe you start exploring inferior Extroverted Sensing in midlife. All those functions are there the whole time, but you don’t develop them equally and in the case of Extroverted Sensing you might only notice it when you’re stressed. You never use your inferior, or even your tertiary function, as effectively as your primary and secondary functions.
Now, imagine you’re a young INFJ boy growing up with an ESTP brother (this is Thor’s type – click here to read about him). ESTPs use the same functions, but in the exact opposite order. So you see your brother being praised for exercising Extroverted Sensing, supported by Introverted Thinking. You probably hear, “Why aren’t you more like Thor?” all the time. Loki has been living with his stress function held up as a paragon. On top of that, he’s a Feeling boy who probably identifies with his mother more than the men in a world that prizes more traditionally masculine traits. Loki knows he isn’t what his father hopes for in a son, but INFJs are good at imitating other types and he tries to make Odin proud. This goes on for years, until Loki learns that the person he’s been trying to be his entire life isn’t good enough because no matter what he does, Odin “could never have a frost giant sitting on the throne of Asgard.”
In The Grip
If Loki is an INFJ, then the only times he really has a chance to use his dominant functions are when he’s using his Intuitive grasp of abstract concepts to dream-up complex plots and solutions to problems and wield magic, and when he’s using Extroverted Feeling to manipulate people. Otherwise, he spends his time first trying to win Odin’s approval by being like Thor, then lashing out at the people who hurt him while trying to discover who he is now that he’s no longer Odin’s son. That, on top of the huge amounts of stress he’s under in the films, means INFJ Loki spends most of this time in the grip of his inferior Extroverted Sensing function.
One of the questions asked by a commenter on the previous Loki post was this: “can you see yourselves (as INFJs presumably) carrying on a constant fight with everyone around you for the majority of your existence? And all so you can continue your life as their master and ruler?” While I couldn’t say “yes” to this exactly how it is phrased, I can say that as an INFJ, I will fight for the right to be my authentic self, especially if I feel like I’ve been stifled. I will turn into someone people don’t expect when I reach the end of my rope, and if I’m stressed and feeling out of control I don’t shy away from conflict like INFJs typically do. My goal isn’t to continue life as “master and ruler,” but I desperately need to restore order to my world and if that means taking control, then that’s what I want to do.
The Avengers is probably the film where Loki seems least like an INFJ, but this is also the film where he’s dealing with the most stress. The last thing he heard before falling into the destroyed Bifrost was Odin voicing disappointment in him, then he is captured and presumably tortured by Thanos.
“Loki disappears through that wormhole of space and time, when the Bifrost is destroyed, and he kind of goes through the Seventh Circle of Hell. And he’s on his own. He’s on his own in the dark corners of the universe, and the journey he goes on is pretty horrible. It’s like getting lost in the rainforest or something. You’re going to come out the other side a bit mangled on the outside, and on the inside.” — quote from an interview with Tom Hiddleston
Naomi Quenk’s book Was That Really Me? includes information about what she calls “lengthy episodes in the grip.” Usually, we experience our inferior function for short periods of time when we’re stressed. If you spend months or years working out of this function, though, bad things happen. For INFJs, she says it looks like this:
Obsessiveness about details in the form of micromanaging others both at work and at home may cause great distress to other people in these environments. “Irrational” accusations by INFJ can alienate others, causing them to avoid the person or attempt to remove him or her from a position of authority. Family members of an INFJ in a chronic grip state may be unable to find ways to sidestep the ready anger and criticism expressed by their loved one. Co-workers are likely to be similarly at a loss. …
Chronic grip behaviour may lead the individual and others to believe that fierce anger, excessive control of others and the immediate world, and distrust that approaches paranoia are a part of the natural makeup of the INFJ, and that the person has always been that way. Since the process of becoming chronically in the grip is often gradual, even people who have known the person in a non-stressed state are likely not to notice what, in retrospect, will be recognized as a radical alteration of personality. The person will appear to be a rather exaggerated, poorly developed, and distorted version of an Extraverted Sensing type. (Quenk, Was That Really Me? page 202)
Interestingly, the latest comment on my previous Loki post states, “Loki pre-snap seems quiet and very introverted, but afterwards seems to become a twisted version of Thor: self-centered, narcissistic, showy, entitled to power at the expense of others, and merciless in conquest.” This is pretty much exactly what Quenk says of INFJs looking like a “distorted version of an Extraverted Sensing type,” which is what Thor is as an ESTP.
When you take into consideration his background and the fact that he’s operating out of his inferior function for most of the films, the objections against typing the MCU’s Loki as an INFJ don’t carry nearly as much weight. Loki doesn’t look like a stereotypical INFJ, but he does act like an INFJ who’s been stressed to the breaking point.
If you enjoyed this post, check out my other MCU typings:
Over the past couple weeks, without even looking for them, I’ve stumbled upon two blogs talking about Myers-Briggs types for fictional characters. One is a Tumbler called MBTI in Fiction. The other is a blog titled A Little Bit of Personality, with a series of posts analyzing heroic archetypes.
I’ve been intrigued by the characters each of these writers choose to type as INFJs. Neither of these writer’s are INFJs themselves (the writer from “MBTI in Fiction” is an ENTJ and the writer of “A Little Bit of Personality” is an ENTP), and it’s interesting to see who non-INFJs think are INFJs. I don’t always agree with them, but it’s interesting.
This was the first post I saw from MBTI in Fiction. My initial reaction was, “There’s no way Loki and I have the same personality type.” But I agree that he’s an introvert, and I don’t think he’s logical or grounded enough to be either an S or a T type, so that leaves us with INFJ or INFP. (Some people type him as an INTJ Mastermind, but he seems to rely on Extroverted Feeling more than Extroverted Thinking as a function).
Both INFJs and INFPs feel everything very deeply and trust their intuition. However, INFPs tend to keep their emotions to themselves, though feelings will inform all their actions. Outwardly, they appear “receptive and non-judgmental.” INFJs prefer to approach the world through Introverted Intuition (Ni), followed by Extroverted Feeling (Fe). They are the rarest type, often question their sanity, rely strongly on their intuitions about people, and tend to talk about their feelings. Dr. A.J. Drenth’s profile includes this descriptions, which I think sounds a lot like Loki (as played by Tom Hiddleston in The Avengers):
INFJs are far less serious inwardly than they may appear outwardly. Their inner world is well described as playful, imaginative, colorful, mischievous, and daring. Characterized by Perceiving rather than Judging, it is far less controlled and regulated than that of INFPs. INFJs love playing with ideas, perspectives, theories, images, symbols, and metaphors.
Another reason I’ve been won-over to typing Loki as an INFJ is because of the description of INFJ villains on A Little Bit of Personality’s page. It really does sound like Loki, and the last line hits a little too close to home for me to brush this analysis off as written by someone who just doesn’t understand INFJs.
When turned to villainy, the INFJ is *creepy*! There isn’t really any other word for it. Dark Paladins are the best of manipulators because they are incredibly intuitive about people and can apply their mild-manneredness to going under the radar as long as they need to, manipulating others who would never suspect them. Because they are so good at this and *know* it, pure-hearted INFJ’s often wonder if they are secretly evil and manipulative at heart, like one day they’ll wake up and realize they were bad all along.
I was planning on covering several characters, but after I started writing Loki I decided one would be enough for a single post. Maybe I’ll write more at some other time, if anyone is interested. Are there any characters you’ve been thinking are INFJs? Would you be interested in me typing non-INFJ characters?