Disney’s Marvel Cinematic Universe has had a long and storied tradition of LGBTQ+ characters, from Brian Tyree Henry’s Phastos in Eternals, to that one guy who says “husband” in the grief support group in Avengers: Endgame, and then whoops, the list kind of just runs out there!
Except, of course, for Loki, in which its titular Asgardian prince acknowledges that he’s bisexual in a line of dialogue in the third episode of the show’s first season, noting that both “princes and princesses” have featured in his romantic past. Which, as actor Tom Hiddleston noted in a recent “Actors On Actors” interview with Lily James for Variety, is actually pretty major, for a Disney Marvel project.
Responding to James’ statement that Loki was the first explicitly queer MCU character, Hiddleston noted, “Back from my early days of researching the character in the ancient myths, the identity of Loki was fluid in every aspect and in gender, in sexuality. It’s a very ancient part of the character and I think I thought about it. … It hadn’t emerged in the stories we’ve told. And I was really pleased and privileged, actually, that it’s came up in the series.”
To be clear, Hiddleston also acknowledged that the single line of dialogue (in a show that centers itself at least in part on an implied romantic relationship between Loki and a woman) is “a small step,” adding, “There’s so much more to do. But the Marvel Cinematic Universe has to reflect the world we live in. So it was an honor to bring that up. It was really important to me. It was really important to [director] Kate Herron and [showrunner] Michael Waldron, and I’m pleased that we could bring it into our story.”
The Loki show previously came under criticism for its attempts at LGBTQ+ representation from Queer As Folk creator and once-and-future Doctor Who showrunner Russell T. Davies, who called it “pathetic” and a “ridiculous, craven, feeble gesture.” Herron later responded to Davies’ comments, saying, “ I’m very proud of what we did in the show. Russell is a hero of mine, but like I’ve said, I hope that we did at least open the door and that more stories will come.”