Following the news that Loki will return in a new show set to premiere on Disney+, actor Tom Hiddleston promised that the mythological deity has “more mischief to make” and “more stories to tell,” but will any of these stories address his sexual orientation and gender fluidity?
Considering that Loki feels most at home in the shadows, it’s only fitting that Marvel hasn’t yet released any details about his first solo outing. Without even an official title to work with, next to nothing is known about Loki’s small screen debut aside from its very existence, and that’s exactly how Marvel likes it.
By providing fans with only the smallest nuggets of information, the studio can stoke speculation, riling up fans who are desperate to learn how their favorite character will return following his murder in Avengers: Infinity War. Did the God of Mischief play another fast one on us? Will he be resurrected in Avengers 4? Will his solo show work as a prequel?
Somewhere in the world, Kevin Feige is cackling wildly right now to no one in particular.
Speaking of Marvel’s head honcho, does anyone else remember when Feige revealed that multiple queer characters are soon heading to the MCU, some of whom we’ve already met? Most fans assume these to be either Valkyrie or members of the Dora Milaje because they’ve already appeared in queer scenes which were then cut out of both Thor: Ragnarok and Black Panther respectively.
However, Feige and his team have a real shot at making amends to the LGBTQ community now that Loki is finally taking center stage. Canonically pansexual and gender fluid in the comics, Thor’s half-brother is currently Marvel’s best shot at joining the rest of us in the 21st century and making good on these seemingly empty promises, finally giving us queer characters who will one day soar alongside their heterosexual counterparts.
While it’s never been cited as an official reason, it’s clear that Marvel has been reluctant to include LGBTQ heroes in their movies because of the prejudice they’d face on a worldwide scale, both in their native US and even more so in international regions like China and Russia.
However, small screen ventures such as Jessica Jones and Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. faced less resistance when they introduced queer characters like Jeri Hogarth and Joey Gutierrez, so Loki’s debut on Disney’s new streaming service could provide a gateway to confirming his sexual and gender identity on screen.
In the comics, Loki himself explains how Asgardian culture doesn’t adhere to the same heteronormative standards that we struggle with on earth: “There are sexual acts. That’s it.” Using his ability to change shape, the God of Mischief has often switched genders in the comics, kissing other men while in the form of a woman; at one point, he even stole Sif’s body outright. As if that wasn’t proof enough of Loki’s fluidity, his father, Odin, also refers to him as “my child who is both son and daughter.”
Representation matters, but it also matters how LGBTQ characters are represented. Given Loki’s status as a villain in previous Marvel movies, the writing team behind his show would need to tread this line carefully. After all, there’s nothing inherently wrong with villains identifying as LGBTQ, but assumptions that queerness is somehow evil have plagued our community in the past thanks to the proliferation of this trope.
Luckily, a show that throws the spotlight directly onto Loki would presumably take time to explore the many facets of his character, portraying a well-rounded pansexual and genderfluid protagonist who just so happens to like mischief.
There’s also a potential issue regarding Tom Hiddleston himself. While the British star has won the world over with his portrayal of Loki, the fact that he’s a cis man could prove problematic if or when the show starts to explore his character’s gender identity.
Fortunately, there’s a very, very simple solution to this. Marvel just needs to hire some LGBTQ and gender fluid writers, thereby increasing queer representation behind the scenes too. If anyone can circumvent these issues and portray Loki authentically without falling victim to harmful stereotypes, it’s writers who can directly relate to his sexual and gender experience.
Disney+ would do well to take note of three new books coming out next year which also feature the God of Mischief in a leading role. Author Mackenzi Lee has already confirmed that she will write Loki as queer in the series, so it would be foolish of Disney’s streaming service to not do the same.
Of course, there will always be naysayers who outright condemn Marvel for setting out to “ruin their favorite characters,” but longtime fans already know that Loki has been pansexual and genderfluid for years now — even millennia, if we’re going by canon. In reality, it’s the MCU which needs to catch up. Let’s just hope that the mischief Hiddleston recently promised fans is of a decidedly queer nature.
The untitled Loki show will stream exclusively on Disney+ in 2019.