The return of the charismatic God of Mischief, Loki, in a fresh season of his eponymous MCU show has ignited a global frenzy. Fans worldwide are eagerly anticipating whether the former Prince of Asgard will find romance with his gender-swapped variant, Sylvie. However, there exists a faction of fans uninterested in witnessing another conventional, heterosexual love story unfold; they yearn for Lokius.
So, what exactly is Lokius? It’s the latest and most sizzling “ship” to hit the Marvel Cinematic Universe since the days of Bucky and Cap. This dynamic involves two beloved Marvel characters: Loki portrayed by Tom Hiddleston, and his comrade from the TVA, Mobius, brought to life by Owen Wilson.
In my review of Loki Season 2, I specifically highlighted the remarkable chemistry between Hiddleston and Wilson as one of the standout elements of this new series. Still, there’s a contingent of fans online who take it a step further, arguing that the friction between this seemingly incompatible duo surpasses that of Loki and his romantic interest Sylvie, played by Sophia Di Martino.
Now, let’s not forget that Sylvie and Loki’s relationship was a standout feature of the first season, and it’s important to acknowledge the hard work put in by the Loki cast to make it a compelling narrative. Nevertheless, it’s undeniably true that Mobius and Loki share a certain magnetic energy. There’s an argument to be made for acknowledging this pairing in an official capacity. The question arises: is Disney prepared to make Lokius an established part of the narrative? Well, yes, but probably not in the manner fans might hope for.
To begin, it’s crucial to acknowledge that Loki is canonically depicted as bisexual. While there was much discussion about Loki’s sexuality during the promotion of the first season, there was a conspicuous absence of concrete evidence in any of the Marvel films or Disney Plus shows up to that point, apart from a fleeting reference to Loki’s past relationships with both princes and princesses.
While the gesture to acknowledge Loki’s bisexuality is appreciated, there’s a lingering sense that it may have been just that – a gesture. In a more cynical view, one might even label it as tokenistic, meant to pacify audiences clamoring for genuine LGBTQ+ representation in the MCU without substantive action (it’s worth noting that Loki Season 1 premiered before “Eternals,” which featured the first MCU gay kiss).
That said (and it’s important to note that I don’t possess insider information on this matter), it does seem that the studio aimed to uphold their declaration that Loki is bisexual. The writers have taken steps to incorporate this aspect in Loki Season 2, particularly in scenes between Mobius and Loki. It’s hard to deny that there was a certain spark between the two when they shared a slice of key lime pie in the automat.
Much of this chemistry can be attributed to the natural charm of Wilson and Hiddleston. There’s an effortless rapport between them, evident even when they engage in their trademark banter. Some fans have even noted a certain “husband energy” between them, but it’s deeper than that. They exhibit a familiarity with one another, from subtle touches on the small of the back to straightening each other’s ties, and the profound, longing looks they exchange over that aforementioned pie. Of course, these actions alone don’t confirm the canonicity of Lokius.
Yet, it’s hard to dismiss the lengths to which this pair goes for each other. Remember, Loki aided in saving Mobius from the Void (even if he found himself trapped there as well, which might complicate matters), while Mobius endured the formidable power of the Temporal Loom for Loki. In fact, Loki appears most invested in helping Mobius rediscover the life that was stolen from him by the TVA, a narrative thread likely to unfold further in Season 2. Could this concern originate from a place deeper than friendship?
I had the opportunity to inquire about the increased focus on Mobius and Loki in Season 2 with Kevin Wright, the executive producer of Loki. While he views Loki Season 2 as an ensemble piece, he did shed light on why this dynamic between the two characters seems more pronounced this season compared to the last. However, I must admit that the answer might not be what Lokius enthusiasts are hoping for.
“I think this full season plays as a really true ensemble,” he explained. “We’ve got so much of a great cast, but in season one, I think the police work, and this was something that Tom and I talked a lot about, was always fun, but Loki and Mobius were always butting heads. So what made it fun going into this season was to make them a little bit more on the same page.”
He also touched on Sylvie’s somewhat reduced role in the initial episodes, explaining that “she doesn’t necessarily want to be there. She wants to live a life.” So, if one were to be optimistic, one could argue that perhaps, once our heroes have dealt with the looming threat of Kang the Conqueror, Victor Timely, and the Council of Kangs, Sylvie might choose to lead a peaceful existence somewhere off the Sacred Timeline, leaving Loki and Mobius to explore their feelings.
In theory, this scenario would leave Loki and Mobius in a position to acknowledge their emotions for one another. However, there’s a complication in this theory. I’m hesitant to accuse Marvel of queerbaiting, but it seems highly unlikely that anything beyond an undertone of romance between Mobius and Loki would be explored. As much as it would be gratifying to see one of Marvel’s leading characters embrace their LGBTQ+ identity, there’s a considerable threshold to overcome. Unfortunately, this isn’t the most enjoyable topic to discuss.
Disney contends with several markets that impose stringent rules on the portrayal of LGBTQ+ content, leading to issues with previous releases. One of the most notable instances is the ban of “Eternals” in Bahrain, Oman, and Saudi Arabia after Disney refused to edit scenes featuring Phastos and his husband.
However, the biggest hurdles for Disney lie in the East. China, now the second-largest film market globally (predicted to surpass the US by 2025), enforces strict regulations regarding LGBTQ+ representation in media. In an industry where securing a Chinese release can make or break a film’s box office performance, it’s anticipated that more movie studios will consider the preferences of a Chinese audience (or at least the government censors).
Given these circumstances, will Disney and Marvel take the bold step of depicting one of their most beloved characters in a same-sex relationship, even if it could have adverse effects on their financial performance? Unfortunately, it’s doubtful. While Marvel has resisted censorship on occasion, this hasn’t consistently been the case. Earlier this year, The Hollywood Reporter revealed that Marvel requested producer Victoria Alonso to blur a pride flag visible in “Ant-Man 3” (she refused, for the record). Additionally, there are reports that Marvel omitted any references to Ayo’s sexuality in “Wakanda Forever” to appease censors.
Marvel isn’t the sole studio within the Disney umbrella grappling with this issue. In March 2022, a group of Pixar employees penned an open letter accusing Disney executives of “barring” scenes depicting gay affection.
“We at Pixar have personally witnessed beautiful stories, full of diverse characters, come back from Disney corporate reviews shaved down to crumbs of what they once were,” the letter read.