“Loki” Makes their Protagonist Canonically Bisexual, But Does it Go Far Enough? (Spoiler Warning)
Like many others, I love the character Loki. So I was excited to see that there would be a tv show where he would get more character development. I was even more excited when he said that he has fallen in love with a “little bit of both” princes and princesses. He also assumed that an alternate version him, who was female presenting, was also bisexual. This was not contested by the character, Sylvie, so I guess it’s also canon. This even came from an openly bisexual writer, Kate Herron who tweeted about this moment.
This was scene complete with bi lighting. That is, lighting in the bisexual flag colors, magenta, purple, and blue. This has been a known way to code onscreen characters as bisexual. Alternatively, it can code characters as magical or other. See here:
The Magical Hedonistic Bisexual
This coding fits well with Loki because he not only a god, but an adopted god of mischief. However, this “othering” is an unfortnate way that bisexual people and characters are often treated, as if we are not human, or do not belong in human society. This is particular as well to “magical hedonistic bisexual trope” that Loki fits into. If it you want to really understand this trope watch this video:
But essentially, bisexual characters are often nonhuman. Usually their promiscouity is highlighted as part of “non-humaness”. This feeds into negative stereotypes about bisexuality. Firstly, their bisexuality is usually portrayed as a sign of their lack of humanity and morality. That’s not to say that being sexually active is bad, but that bisexuals are often associated with the so-called imorality of promiscuity. Secondly, bisexual women, especially of color, tend to suffer the brunt of the demonization and fetishization that goes with this trope. However, male characters can certainly follow this trope, for example Lucifer from the Netflix series.
Still, magical hedonistic bisexual characters are not all bad. In fact, they can be very fun characters, like Harley Quinn, Lucifer, Magnus Bane, Vignette Stonemoss, and yes, Loki. It’s just that they do not represent the full spectrum of bisexuality. This better representation can only come from more representation, especially from bisexual writers, like Kate Herron herself.
Loki and Sylvie
Loki’s female counterpart, Sylvie is also implied to be bisexual because Loki says that he assumes that she has also loved both princes and princesses. She does not contest this. However, there is one aspect of their queerness that is not mentioned. Their genderfluidity.
In the comics, and even in Norse mythology, Loki has been genderfluid. He is a shapeshifter, and can appear as both male and female. Presumably his variants are just genderfluid as him. Yet this not mentioned in Loki. It is perhaps slightly acknowledged with the presence of Sylvie, however, she is separate entity from Loki himself.
Secondly, Loki and Sylvie fall in love with each other, something that was surprising since they are variations on the same character. The director said that it’s because this is a self-love story. However, you do not need a plot that is explicitly one of romance to experience self love. Also, Sylvie’s character could have very easily been male. Or Loki could have ended up with Mobius. I’m just saying as a Lokius shipper, that would have been the preferable option.
Is It Biphobic to Criticize Loki/Slyvie and the Show?
It is biphobic to expect bisexuals to date the same sex or gender. We should be able to date any consenting adult regardless of their sex or gender. However, I don’t think it’s necessarily biphobic to be critical of Marvel, owned by Disney in their characterization of Loki’s relationship with Sylvie, both in conventionally attractive, white, and appear to be opposite sexes.
For one thing, Marvel has had no meaningful representation of LGBTQ+ characters. For instance, Marvel considers it good representation that there was a male character in Avengers: Endgame who was canonically dating other men, and spoke about his partner getting “dusted” or killed by Thanos. Needless to say, this is not this not meaningful representation. Merely acknowledging that LGBTQ+ people exist as background characters in the MCU is a perhaps a start, but you’d have to be a bit sheltered to consider it groundbreaking. We know LGBTQ+ people exist. Don’t just relegate us to being extras or make our queerness a throw away line.
Furthermore, this is a Disney show, streaming on Disney+. Disney has been the recent target of memes because headlines from mainstream news sources have repeatly said that Disney is featuring their first LGBTQ+ character, each time for a different film or tv show. This shows that clearly, each instance of LGBTQ+ representation was not meaningful enough for anybody to remember it. At least, we wouldn’t have noticed it if there weren’t so many headlines giving the game away.
In addition, Disney has been selling lesbian pins in their parks without sharing profits with the flag creator, who is struggling financially. They did have a pride section on Disney+ which I saw mainly included short films from amateur creators. It’s great that they are supporting more independent LGBTQ+ creators, but I wish that we had that kind of inclusion in Disney feature films. I suppose Loki is the queer Disney prince we were looking for though.
In conclusion, I am glad that Loki is a canonically bisexual protagonist. I appreciate that Sylvie was implied to be bisexual as well. However, I do think that this representation could have gone further by showing Loki’s attraction to men at some point or acknowledging his genderfluidity. Also, less stereotypical representation would be great. For examples of this, watch Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, which includes multiple more down-to-earth bisexual characters. I also will say that I enjoy The Owl House, a Disney show that does feature a canonically bisexual protagonist with a lesbian love interest. The Owl House also has a bisexual writer. So clearly Disney is heading in the right direction in some ways.
I think another important thing for Disney and other companies to remember is that rainbow capitalism is not true support of LGBTQ+ community. If you want our money, you have to include us in the process. Pay Sean Campbell for her flag design. There will be nothing about us without us. On that note, I leave you with bi Loki fan art.