Big Gay Superheroes: Loki Vs Doom Patrol
In the past few years, comic book fans and queer people have been asking for more representation when it comes to comic book movies and television. While not every single piece of live-action superhero media has granted this wish, there are two shows that have tried to deliver. The series in question are Loki (2021-), featuring Tom Hiddleston as the titular character, and Doom Patrol (2019-), a series based on one of DC’s weirdest superhero teams.
The character of Loki is genderfluid and bisexual in the comics. It’s not something that is hinted at, it’s stated and Loki even fluctuates between presenting as a man to presenting as a woman. People were hopeful that the Loki series would delve deep into both of these aspects of his life.
And it didn’t.
Now they did mention Loki being into both men and women. It’s one line and that’s it. After one scene, they never mention him being bisexual again. We don’t see Loki flirting with men or hear him talking about how he realized he was attracted to men. We also don’t hear him talk about what bisexuality means to him or how he came to realize he was bi. His gender fluid identity also never gets talked about either and he doesn’t go by they/them pronouns. The showrunners kept teasing the audience about this only to not fully deliver.
Doom Patrol, on the other hand, delivers not once but three times.
Larry Trainor aka Negative Man is a man struggling to understand the being living inside of him and come to terms with his homosexuality. In the first episode, we see Trainor in the past, stealing a kiss from a fellow serviceman, John Bowers. In the episode “Frances Patrol,” Trainor gets a chance to see his former lover again. The episode is poignant and heartfelt, allowing Trainor to come to understand himself better.
Trainor isn’t the only queer character in Doom Patrol. In the episode, “Danny Patrol,” we’re introduced to Danny the Street. Yes, that’s right; the character is a street. As weird as it sounds, Danny fits in with the Doom Patrol and is a recurring, popular character in the comics. Created by Grant Morrison, Danny the Street is a sentient teleporting street that finds the outcasts of the world and takes them in. Danny uses they/them pronouns and is non-binary which is explained to us by the show’s third queer character, Maura Lee Karupt.
One of the Doom Patrol’s biggest enemies is the Bureau of Normalcy, a group that seeks out to destroy what they deem immoral. Danny the Street was one such case and agent Morris Wilson was tasked with finding Danny. However, Danny saw Morris for who he truly was and Morris left to begin a new life with Danny, shedding their name and becoming Maura Lee Karupt, a woman.
So that’s a gay man, a non-binary character, and a transwoman verus a character that is supposedly genderfluid. Looks like Doom Patrol wins.
Now, why is it such an issue that Loki didn’t really explore Loki’s sexuality or identity? Well, for one thing, the people behind the scenes kept teasing the audience that the show would explore both. Having one line in the show about Loki being with princesses and princes isn’t groundbreaking or progressive, it’s lazy. Both Marvel and Disney have a history of trying to get brownie points for being ‘woke’ by doing the bare minimum in terms of queer representation i.e having a nameless character in Endgame (2019) be gay or the ‘gay scene’ in the live-action Beauty and the Beast. Just saying Loki is bisexual doesn’t mean much in the grand scheme of things, especially when they don’t go deeper into it. This isn’t to say that Loki being bisexual isn’t a big deal of course but Disney doesn’t get too much credit, seeing as how it took them thirteen years to canonically state a character’s sexuality. Meanwhile, Doom Patrol started out by having two men kiss in their first episode.
I’m a bisexual woman and I’m always excited when I see characters who are also bi. As a comic book fan and a Loki fan, I was excited about this series but I ended up extremely disappointed. One line about him being bi was all we got and then the subject is never brought up again. How is that fair to me and other bisexual fans? Are our stories not worth telling or are we just used for internet cred?
If people enjoy the Loki series, that’s fine but what isn’t okay is acting as if the show offered bisexual and genderfluid people fantastic representation when it didn’t. It’s not fair under any circumstances and it’s also untrue. It’s better to be honest about how the show handled Loki’s identity and offer up better options in terms of representation.
Is there a chance that Loki and his queer identity might be explored in season two? There is, but it’s not a high one. Disney/Marvel’s track record with openly stating a character isn’t straight is poor at best. If you want a comic book show that has characters who fall under the LGBT+ umbrella, I wholeheartedly recommend Doom Patrol, both the show and the comics.