The new Disney+ series Loki premieres tomorrow, June 9th, and a promo from earlier this week reveals that his sex is listed as ‘fluid.’ This is exciting, but let’s brace ourselves for it to not be thoroughly addressed in the narrative.
Before we get too deep into our discussion of the upcoming Loki series, let’s address some terminology issues first. Sex and gender are, in fact, different. As Loki is a shape shifter, it does make sense that he can change sexes and thus be sex fluid. As shapeshifting doesn’t actually exist in our real world, this isn’t an actual thing for us and the closest we have to contextualize this situation through gender fluidity. While sex and gender are, in fact, different, for the purposes of this particular fictional situation, many fans have began to use ‘sex fluid’ and ‘genderfluid’ interchangeably. It’s perfectly valid to critique this terminology usage, but that’s a much larger conversation that could probably be explored in an article of its own pretty heavily. Right now I want to focus on what this means for the LGBTQ+ community and representation in the wider MCU, but wanted to recognize that issue before launching into it.
First and foremost, Loki is canonically bisexual and genderfluid in the comics. This is something that has yet to be addressed in the MCU, and many fans have been critical of Disney’s loud and proud marketing push during Pride month, but lack of actual representation in their major properties. So when this little clip popped up, there was a lot of excitement, followed by a lot of criticism and concern. Their track record is abysmal, with only the tiniest hint of queerness shoved into Endgame as our only real representation in the franchise (unless you count Runaways over on Hulu, which is debatably MCU canon). Our initial reaction of excitement for getting some actual LGBTQ+ representation is perfectly understandable, but when given the context, I can’t really blame people for feeling a bit hesitant to celebrate it.
— Loki (@LokiOfficial) June 6, 2021
We are also getting some mixed signals from the cast and creators about just how much LGBTQ+ representation we’ll be getting in this series. The head writer, Michael Waldron, describes the relationship between Loki and Mobius as a ‘love story,’ which sounds great at first. But then he quickly followed it up by saying ‘knowing our fans, they’re going to take it the wrong way.’ The ship has been nuked before it even aired. We’ve been no-homoed in a promotional interview, which is putting things off to a really rocky start for LGBTQ+ rep immediately.
That said, showing Loki in a relationship is obviously not the only way to show that he’s part of the LGBTQ+ community. Sexuality is separate from both sex and gender, after all. Granted, if his sex is fluid, any relationship that he’s in would be considered queer anyway, but it’s not a requirement in the slightest. This article over at Inverse has some relatively hopeful quotes about the sex fluid/genderfluid representation that we could be getting, which is far more hopeful than the comments from Waldron about the Loki/Mobius situation:
“I know how many people identify with Loki in particular and are eager for that representation, especially with this character,” Waldron tells Inverse. “We worked really hard.”
But even Waldron may be putting it lightly. Loki’s fluidity isn’t just some corporate attempt at corporate wokeness from Disney, it’s a direct reference to both comic book lore and mythological history. Here’s how it happened and why it matters, according to both Waldron and Loki himself — Tom Hiddleston.
“It’s always been there in the comics for some time and in the history of the character for hundreds, if not thousands of years,” Hiddleston tells Inverse.
So even if his sexuality isn’t explored, it sounds like they’ve at the very least considered how they are representing his sex and gender on screen. But how much will we actually get? What will the context be? Will it be played as a joke, or do these quotes from Waldron and Hiddleston hint that they are taking it seriously? We’ll just have to wait and see.
I’m very excited for this series no matter what happens. I’ve been literally counting down the hours and plan on staying up late tonight to watch it the moment it drops. The inclusion or lack of LGBTQ+ representation will not make or break this show for me. However, it will be a pleasant surprise if Disney finally has the nerve to include representation in an indisputably canon part of the MCU, and will make my earlier criticisms of their Pride merchandise push look very different in retrospect. It’s also a great gift during Pride month, if they do go through with this.
Bold to claim Disney is “diversifying” the MCU by just making the character accurate to the source material. https://t.co/SfH4eEEPzo
— jack (@vesaldi) June 7, 2021
Both excitement and caution are warranted here. Both reactions to this are completely valid. Disney has not been great with this topic, but they have been moving (at a glacial pace) in a more progressive direction, so it may someday be fantastic. Will this be the one that finally breaks that rainbow glass ceiling? I don’t know. For some, simply having that picture in the promo is enough to count as LGBTQ+ rep. For others, such as myself, we want it addressed within the narrative itself. Both sides of this are valid and, while we may bump heads, we should be listening to each other right now.
My only advice to people on both side of the situation is to wait and see what is actually delivered before passing final judgement on how the show portrays this issue. We can discuss what we get in the show itself when we arrive on the other side, and I am sure there will be disagreement about how good the representation was once we get there. We always disagree. But right now, this one image is a standalone statement, and the snippets of discussion from Waldron and Hiddleston are far from definitive about what the show will actually contain.
Whatever happens, I’m still excited for this show. Stay tuned for weekly reviews from Geekiary co-admin, Khai! We’re going to have a lot to say, one way or another.
Author: Angel Wilson
Angel is the admin of The Geekiary and a geek culture commentator. They earned a BA in Film & Digital Media from UC Santa Cruz. They have contributed to various podcasts and webcasts including An Englishman in San Diego, Free to Be Radio, and Genre TV for All. They’ve also written for Friends of Comic Con and is a 2019 Hugo Award winner for contributing fanfic on AO3. They identify as queer.
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