THOR: RAGNAROK is held to a high standard for its LGBT characters. Many fans have been celebrating individual moments and scenes as the LGBT representation they’ve been craving from the MCU. Is THOR: RAGNAROK really what it’s built up to signify for LGBT people? Is what we’re being given truly representation?

A specific moment that fans have been giving their attention to has me questioning whether THOR: RAGNAROK is giving us representation through characters like Loki, or merely making jokes of them. Tons of stuff happened during THOR: RAGNAROK. The epic film given to us by Taika Waititi brought us through multiple worlds and stories in a gorgeous way. Despite all the beautiful chaos, many people honed in on a particular moment. A moment involving Loki and another man. A moment LGBT fans lost their minds over.

The Grandmaster’s sly (if it can be called that) wink at Loki. The implications of how Loki gained the Grandmaster’s favor.

Loki LGBT
Can Jeff Goldblum not wink, or is he simply acting like he can’t? The world may never know.

The fandom was all over it in seconds. The jokes extended outside of regular fandom as well. Comics, gif edits, fanfiction. Even actors such as Tom Hiddleston have hinted at Loki’s involvement with the Grandmaster being more than platonic, poking fun at the concept of Loki gaining a sugar daddy.

There’s a lot of talk about how THOR: RAGNAROK includes many characters who are LGBT in the comics. Loki included. I’ve noticed a troubling trend when it comes to these LGBT characters. Loki and the Grandmaster having a potential relationship is relegated to wink-wink nudge-nudge status. This is symptomatic of the trend. The fact that people have poked fun — but only poked fun — is a hint at a larger problem.

There is no confirmation of any LGBT characters in the movie.

Marvel’s “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell”

This feels like queerbaiting at best, and a joke mocking gay people at worst. Neither option is particularly promising. We either have a gay relationship dangled in front of us without any real confirmation, or we have something we were supposed to laugh off.

Loki is, in the comics, explicitly LGBT. Valkyrie is bisexual in the comics. This was meant to be canonized in the film, according to Taika Waititi and Tessa Thompson. Korg, a new character introduced, is also explicitly gay in the comics. All of this, however, was cut from or left out of the film.

Loki LGBT
Loki making things pretty darn clear, gender-identity-wise, courtesy of Ryan North, from Unbeatable Squirrel Girl.

Waititi mentions inclusivity and allowing the audience to “read into” relationships in one of his interviews. This is a clear case of good intentions…with little results. The issue with only implying LGBT representation, allowing people to “read into” it themselves, is that we live in a deeply heteronormative society.

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In a world where gay people struggle to have their relationships and identities recognized even when they’re explicit, subtext simply doesn’t cut it. Keeping everything subtextual gives people opportunities to avoid. To either jump through as many mental hoops as possible to deny it or worse.

The Dreaded Gay Joke

Let’s not pretend — people still mock gay people and use “gay” as a pejorative. The threat of gay jokes is still one constantly looming in the thoughts of LGBT people. There’s another problem. The easily available choice to write this interaction off as a joke. A rather painful one for LGBT fans.

A wink between men can act as so many things — a joke about how ridiculous it would be if Loki were gay. A joke about how gay men are old and lecherous (a particularly insidious train of thought that still lingers in society) and take advantage of younger men. A small saving grace is that the wink is met with awkwardness rather than disgust.

Loki LGBT
The Grandmaster begging you not to make a rude joke about men who wear eyeliner.

Even the jokes among the fandom — and actors — that are “supportive” of the idea of a canon gay relationship for Loki feel like a slippery slope. Just a glance away from pulling the rug out from under LGBT fans. Just an expression or sentence away from delving into a harmful stereotype. It feels like, by making the scene something so small, something particularly humorous, we’re standing at the very edge of a cliff.

Just a Push

This moment — and many others that people cling to as subtext or representation — walks a thin line between being a gift or a gut-punch. Freedom to “interpret” whether a character is LGBT feels like holding your breath and anticipating to get hit. Waiting for them to eventually be relegated to a heterosexual relationship because they were never confirmed as gay. Maybe waiting for them to write some sputtering, stilted explanation of the character being cisgender. Or waiting to be told, “well, what did you expect?” As if expecting a character to say they’re gay is asking for the moon.

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The fact that the interaction between Loki and the Grandmaster was humorous makes it easier to sweep away. People can write it off as the fandom making a mountain out of a molehill. It was “just a joke,” clearly these people are “reading too much” into this moment.

Despite the fact, it remained implied we had to read into it. Despite the fact, Loki is queer in the comics. I am sure that was not the intention — THOR: RAGNAROK is a humorous film in general, so humor is expected even in regards to relationships. However, sayings about good intentions exist for a reason.

Loki’s (and the Grandmaster’s) Future with LGBT Representation

I trust Taika Waititi. I think he’s not only a brilliant director but a man who is making moves to give the MCU some much-needed diversity. Taika stated he liked the idea of a scene that made Valkyrie’s attraction to women explicit. He didn’t shy away from mentioning Korg is, in the comics, gay.

It is precisely because I trust him that I want Loki and the Grandmaster to be more than just a joke. More than a wink-wink, nudge-nudge, say-no-more type of thing. I want to see a Loki who has relationships with men, women, and non-binary people. A Loki who is unafraid to embrace being both a man and a woman, and embrace sometimes being neither.

Loki LGBT
This scene from Young Avengers, courtesy of Kieron Gillen, except the bisexual that Loki is chatting up can be Valkyrie, not David Allyne.

There’s nothing wrong with jokes. A joke about Loki being with a man can quickly turn into a joke about how ridiculous the concept of men with other men is, though. That’s the only danger.

There is a really, really easy fix, however.

Canonize Loki as non-straight. Let Loki say that he has been in relationships with people other than women. He’s not exactly shy, after all. Canonizing Loki’s genderfluid identity while we’re at it would also be fantastic.

Hopefully, Waititi, or some other director, will be able to move forward with LGBT representation. Hopefully, the Grandmaster’s moment with Loki becomes a joke I can enjoy because it’s not just a joke.

Fingers crossed.

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10 Comments

  1. […] gay-ish second in Black Panther earlier than Marvel shut that one down. There was additionally the subtext Loki and the Grandmaster got in Thor: Ragnarok, however there has neither been affirmation nor a denial to the validity of this […]

    Reply

  2. GarlicBride

    May 5, 2018 at 10:00 pm

    I think it’s fairly obvious that Taika wanted to bring more representation into it but there was something stopping him. Probably the fact that it’s a Disney movie and queer characters have always had to have been subtle to get through to the final cut (eg. LeFou). This was probably the best we could get, unfortunately, and I don’t think this was a malicious joke in any way.

    Reply

  3. Angie Foster

    March 16, 2018 at 6:13 pm

    Sure it’s open to interpretation but given the context, the wink or look he gave seemed to me to be the Grand Master’s way of simply saying, “I am millions of years old but look how great I look!” Giving himself a compliment. Some fans have speculated that there was a relationship because Loki knew the access code to the Commodore, the orgy-vessel. However, there nothing indicating that Loki had been aboard the Commodore. What he actually told Thor was that he had stolen the access codes to the hangar where the ships were kept, not to any particular ship. Loki personally entered the access codes to get them into the hangar but Thor did not require a code to get aboard the Commodore. Additionally, IMHO, Loki told Thor to take the Commodore to get back at Thor for the rude comments he made in the elevator and for “Get Help!” Thor asked Loki what ship did SHE say to take. She meaning Valkyrie. I can’t see V recommending a ship that she knows has no guns on it, especially when the super-vessel that Korg and Crew took was available. While Loki believed it didn’t matter what ship he told Thor to take b/c he was sounding the alarm, Loki is always thinking and could also have said take the Commodore as a way to thwart Thor’s escape. Loki is certainly clever enough to smooth talk his way into the Grand Master’s favor without using his body.

    Reply

  4. Jim the Comic Fan

    December 18, 2017 at 11:09 am

    All in all, still a pretty damn good article.

    Reply

  5. Very tired

    December 18, 2017 at 11:09 am

    Just because someone has a wife doesn’t mean that they’re not genderfluid and not straight like bear with me here bella i know this may be hard for you to grasp but sometimes ladies are also not straight

    Reply

  6. Jim the Comic Fan

    December 18, 2017 at 11:08 am

    He’s also turned into a female horse and given birth before. Besides, you can be married and still be genderfluid and not straight.

    Reply

  7. BellaB

    December 18, 2017 at 3:05 am

    Loki also has a wife that everybody conveniently ignores and forgets.

    Reply

  8. burgerboy

    December 18, 2017 at 12:06 am

    lmao are you okay????

    Reply

  9. Nathan

    December 17, 2017 at 10:05 pm

    Do you say that about persumed relationships between men and women Luis H Godoy II because if not then shut up

    Reply

  10. Nathan

    December 17, 2017 at 9:58 pm

    while i love the relationship between grandmaster and loki this perfectly sums up the issues with it being presented as just a funny joke and not explicitly confirmed

    Reply

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