On the latest episode of Loki, “Lamentis,” the titular God of Mischief sits down with his bizarro world version Sylvie. The topic turns to love, and Sylvie asks Loki if he’s every been involved with any “would-be princesses, or perhaps another prince?” Loki replies, “A bit of both.”
This is as clear an acknowledgement as we’re likely to get in the show that Loki of Asgard is bisexual. It follows pretty close on the heels of Marvel confirming that the character is gender fluid, which makes sense given that Loki is always changing form, sometimes looking like a man, sometimes a woman.
The gender-fluid confirmation came in a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it teaser for the show, while the implication of bisexuality was in the show itself. In neither case did Marvel or Disney come out and proclaim Loki’s freedom from heteronormativity from the rooftops. That doesn’t mean it’s not laudatory for them to make these attempts to be inclusive, but it is, as Loki director Kate Herron said on Twitter, “a small step.”
Now that there’s no risk, Disney and Marvel embrace LGBTQIA+ characters
Disney and Marvel have made more attempts recently to be inclusive of LGBTQIA+ people. For instance, director Joe Russo had a quick cameo as a grieving gay man in Avengers: Endgame. The upcoming movie Eternals will feature a gay character in a major role. But I find it hard to see these moves as purely altruistic on Disney’s part. Tom Hiddleston has been playing Loki for a decade — presumably the character has been gender fluid and bisexual all that time, but only now has Disney seen fit to acknowledge this part of Loki’s personality. Likewise, we’ve heard reports that Tessa Thompson’s Valkyrie will have a female love interest in future movies, but again, notice the timing.
I think Disney is a very smart corporation loathe to rock the boat. I think they’re starting to embrace the LGBTQIA+ characters in their roster not because they suddenly had an epiphany about the importance of representation, but because they now deem it safe. Had Disney openly talked about Loki’s bisexuality in the first Thor movie in 2011, it probably would have met with huge backlash, and that’s bad for the bottom line. But in 2021, they can include something like this and be confident that pundits and fans will praise them loudly enough to drown out any naysayers. There’s way less risk now, way less potential for ruffling feathers and actually challenging someone’s opinion.
Obviously, it’s a good thing for there to be more LGBTQIA+ characters in the MCU, but I worry a little over people rushing to congratulate Disney over their daring and open-mindedness. This is still Disney we’re talking about; they want your money first and to do good second…a distant second.