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Loki’s out: Tokenism or much-needed queer representation in the superhero genre?

Is the MCU’s address of the God of mischief’s bisexuality an attempt at assuaging fans, or the first step into a more positive representation?

Shilpa S
Jul 13, 2021
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Of all the things the Marvel Cinematic Universe has been lauded for, queer representation is certainly not one of them. But with an episode of its latest series Loki, things seem to be culminating in a much needed, albeit overdue change.

In the third episode of the show, while in conversation with another character, the titular character acknowledges that he is bisexual. After the episode’s premiere, the showrunner Kate Herron, a bisexual person herself, tweeted confirmation of the same. Others also pointed out how the lighting in the episode also stood out, mimicking the colours of the bisexual flag, a subtle nod to the revelation.

But disappointment soon followed at the heels of the celebrations with the announcement that the series would further not explore any other aspects of Loki’s sexuality. This move by Marvel begs the question, was this tiny sliver of representation merely a ploy to earn ‘woke’ points and hush critics?

Granted the upcoming Marvel series the Eternals promises more queer representation, including a gay character with a husband and children. But it does not help the fact that Marvel movies have been ignoring calls for LGBTQ+ representation for a very long time. Their avoidance is made more evident by the fact that the comics have done a much better job in this regard, even exploring Loki’s gender fluidity. With one of their biggest rivals, DC, stepping up their game by introducing Batgirl as a lesbian crime-fighting icon, it seems Marvel did not want to be left behind.

Gender identity and sexual orientation form important parts of people’s lives. And seeing a part of one’s identity being emulated on screen by a beloved character can be euphoric at times. Representation is also important as it helps in generating wider acceptance among the masses. Young queer people who are just figuring themselves out, benefit highly from positive onscreen depictions. And that goes beyond mere name-dropping.

Several nuances, as well as challenges, accompany a person who is a sexual minority, especially in a hetero-normative society like ours. Embracing it, exploring it, talking about it, through any medium makes a world of difference. Movies and shows play a very important role in showcasing positive narratives about the LGBTQ+ community.

Loki - the show, had a chance to actually make a difference in this aspect, had the show taken a closer look into his bisexuality and the intricacies of the same, which it failed to do.

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