Forget superheroes: Loki is definitely Tumblr’s favorite comic book character.
Thanks to the success of Thor and The Avengers, Tom Hiddleston’s villain Loki is now neck and neck with Benedict Cumberbatch for the title of ultimate fandom heartthrob. And next year, he’ll star in his own solo comic series.
Loki: Agent of Asgard won’t be out until early 2014, but writer Al Ewing is already getting a head start on fan engagement by answering public questions on his Tumblr blog. One answer that’s received a lot of attention today is the revelation that in the new series, Loki will be canonically bisexual and gender-fluid. Ewing writes:
“Yes, Loki is bi and I’ll be touching on that. He’ll shift between genders occasionally as well.”
We may not know many plot details yet, but this book already sounds like fandom catnip. According to an interview earlier this month, Ewing’s Loki will be “a young man of stolen wealth and varied taste with the universe as his oyster and a penchant for black nail varnish,” with further Tumblr posts implying that the series will take inspiration from the heist genre.
Much like his mythological namesake, Marvel’s Loki is a shapeshifting trickster god who occasionally takes on human form. The movies characterize him as a Jotunn “ice giant” with a human appearance, which in Norse mythology terms would make him genderless—even though Thor seemed to portray other ice giants as implicitly male. This is the first time an official Marvel source has confirmed that any version of Loki is gender-fluid or bisexual.
This news was immediately embraced by fans, many of whom have been hoping for such an announcement since Loki rose to mainstream popularity. In fanfiction, Loki is often written as queer, particularly when it comes to the habit of switching between genders at will—an idea inspired by Norse myths where Loki is the “mother” of several supernatural creatures, such as Odin’s eight-legged horse, Sleipnir.
This reaction from Tumblr user homovikings is typically enthusiastic: “ahh what a beautiful day, the sun is shining, the sky is clear and blue, loki is canonically bisexual, birds are singing a merry tune.”
Still, some fans are worried that these overwhelmingly positive reactions will just increase fandom’s sympathy for a character who is, at best, an amoral antihero. Tumblr fandom is known for embracing sensitive villain characters like Hannibal Lecter and Loki, and there’s a concern that the acknowledgement of Loki’s gender fluidity will overshadow his darker side. Specifically, the fact that when he became “Lady Loki” in an earlier series, he was stealing the body of a female character, rather than just shapeshifting.
Either way, this revelation has clearly inspired a lot of buzz for a comic that won’t even be released until next year, and was previously quite obscure. While Marvel movies are not known for their diversity, their comics have always been better at catering to a wide range of audiences. Having such a famous character come out as LGBT can only be a step forward.
Photo via loudlikeloki/Tumblr