WARNING: This piece contains spoilers for the comics Journey Into Mystery, Young Avengers, and Loki: Agent of Asgard.
With a queer YA novel in the works from author Mackenzi Lee, and a charismatic, on-screen portrayal by actor Tom Hiddleston, the popularity of Marvel Comics' Loki character has never been bigger. Known primarily as the God of Mischief and the God of Lies, the brooding playful character has struck a chord with a wide audience due to his reinvention as an attractive, sympathetic antihero who also just happens to be gender fluid and pansexual.
Given his history as a villain and the history of queer coded villains in media, one would think that Loki would be rejected, rather than admired. (Queer coded villains like Doctor Frank n' Furter and Ursula are considered problematic because they risk causing queerness to be associated with being evil.) But Loki's reinvention as an antihero could show that queerness isn't evil—it's complex and human in the way that everyone is.
In what could only be described as perfect synergy, Loki's reinvention managed to occur simultaneously in the comics and on the big screen. Beginning with Kieron Gillen's Journey Into Mystery, an eviler version of Loki was killed off and Loki was literally reborn as a young hero known as Kid Loki. However, a phantom copy of evil Loki annihilates the soul of Kid Loki and takes over his body, resulting in a Kid Loki that's now riddled with guilt over his past actions.
Torn with guilt and the good and evil warring within him, Kid Loki eventually joins Kieron Gillen's and Jamie Mckelvie's Young Avengers in fabulously fun adventures. A notable aspect of this team is that almost all the members are shown to be queer, including Loki. After literally growing up into a teenager, Loki leaves the Young Avengers for his own adventure in Al Ewing's Loki: Agent of Asgard. It is in this run that Loki truly comes into their own as a gender fluid, pansexual god.
When Loki's character development in the comics is factored with Tom Hiddleston's portrayal in the Marvel films, it is not hard to see what makes Loki such an appealing character. Loki oozes charm and wit that is displayed through questionable actions as well as queerness, but also struggles with self-acceptance and the acceptance of others.
As an antihero, Loki is similar to other morally grey queer characters such as the bisexual John Constantine and the bisexual polyamorous Harley Quinn. While the supernatural detective John Constantine literally fights demons from within and without, Harley Quinn has fought alongside villains and heroes as a domestic abuse survivor. Thus, queer antiheroes can be relatable to queer people who don't live the ideal lives of heroes.
Loki's storyline in Agent of Asgard spoke to me as a non-binary queer person. In these comics, Loki struggles to be free from their past. Loki eventually becomes the God/Goddess of Stories, resolving to be who they want to be instead of what others expect. This is similar to what trans and non-binary people experience as they strive to be who they are. Loki showed me that I can own who I really am and tell my story in a way that satisfies me.
Although Loki's infamous actions as a villain certainly make them problematic, they can also resonate with people as a queer antihero. Even though Loki's future in the Marvel films is uncertain, their future as a queer character seems bright.
As a gender fluid pansexual antihero, Loki can show queer people that queerness is neither all good nor all bad: it's a wonderful, complicated experience.