The latest episode of Loki, on DisneyPlus Hotstar Premium, hit the brakes on plot progression for a while, choosing instead to focus on developing its titular character(s). Among the episode’s revelations were Loki’s fondness for figgy port, his power of telekinesis and, an entire decade after he first joined the Marvel Cinematic Universe, his bisexuality.
On a train journey across the doomed planet Lamentis-1, Loki (Tom Hiddleston) and his female counterpart, Sylvie (Sophia Di Martino) bring each other up to speed on their lives. They both find out that the other was adopted, though Sylvie’s parents were more honest about it than Loki’s, and when the conversation veers into relationships, Sylvie reveals that she’s been dating a postman in her version of Asgard.
“How about you?” she asks Loki. “Must’ve been would-be princesses or perhaps, another prince.”
“A bit of both,” Loki replies. “I suspect the same as you.”
It’s a casual acknowledgement of the character’s sexual identity that the show’s director, Kate Herron, later took to Twitter to confirm.
From the moment I joined @LokiOfficial it was very important to me, and my goal, to acknowledge Loki was bisexual. It is a part of who he is and who I am too. I know this is a small step but I’m happy, and heart is so full, to say that this is now Canon in #mcu #Loki 💗💜💙 pic.twitter.com/lz3KJbewx8
— Kate Herron (@iamkateherron) June 23, 2021
The revelation comes after a fleeting glimpse of Loki’s file in episode 1 revealed that the character identifies as gender fluid. Here, in true Loki go-big-or-go-home style, the whole of episode 3 was shot in pink, purple and blue – the colours of the bisexual flag.
Why is this important?
Loki is the first bisexual and second openly queer character in the MCU. If you can’t immediately remember who the first was, don’t worry, it was a pretty blink-and-miss appearance. Think back to Avengers: Endgame (2019). A character identified only as Grieving Man and played by director Joe Russo is part of a single-scene post-Blip therapy session, in which he talks about going out on dates again following the death of his husband.
“Representation is really important,” Russo had told Deadline. “It was important to us as we did four of these films, we wanted a gay character somewhere in them. We felt it was important that one of us play him, to ensure the integrity and show it is so important to the filmmakers that one of us is representing that. It is a perfect time, because one of the things that is compelling about the Marvel Universe moving forward is its focus on diversity.”
At that point, however, a straight director playing a gay character for a single scene, with a few lines of dialogue, was the only attempt at LGBTQ representation the MCU had made over 22 films.After the release of Thor: Ragnarok (2017), actress Tessa Thompson revealed that her character, Valkyrie, was actually queer, but a sexuality-establishing scene of a female suitor leaving her bedroom had been cut from the film. While she envisioned a scene in which Valkyrie grieves a fellow female warrior as that of Valkyrie grieving her lover, the relationship wasn’t made explicit. In the comics, Valkyrie is in a relationship with a woman named Annabelle.
At the 2019 San Diego Comic Con, Marvel President Kevin Feige promised that the character’s sexuality would be more firmly established in the upcoming Thor: Love And Thunder (2022).
Can we expect to see other queer characters in the MCU?
At the same Comic Con, Feige revealed that the superhero Phastos, played by Brian Tyree Henry in the upcoming MCU film Eternals, would be openly gay. “He’s married, he’s got a family, and that is just part of who he is,” said Feige.
There’s still no confirmation over whether superheroes Billy Maximoff, who appeared in WandaVision, and America Chavez, set to make her first appearance in the upcoming Doctor Strange And The Multiverse of Madness (2022), are as queer as their comic-book counterparts.