- “Loki’s” central relationship revived discussions around the concept of “selfcest.”
- “Selfcest” is a fiction trope popular in fandom that’s been memeified online.
- This post contains spoilers for all six episodes, including the finale, of ‘Loki’ on Disney+.
- Visit Insider’s homepage for more stories.
‘Loki,’ which recently concluded its first season run on Disney+, follows the titular god on a journey through time that sets up future installments in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. While there’s plenty to ruminate on after finishing the series, the central romance at the core of the show has raised some questions online, particularly around the concept of “selfcest.”
Selfcest is a familiar trope in fandom circles that involves shipping (wishing that two characters are in a relationship) a character with another version of themself. After it was memeified on platforms like Tumblr in the 2010s, “Loki” has renewed some of the debate around the trope. Still, the show’s central relationship has led to fans to raise other questions, particularly in relation to its implications on “Loki’s” LGBTQ representation.
Warning: This post contains major spoilers for all six episodes, including the finale, of “Loki.”
‘Loki’s’ central plotline involves Loki falling in love with a version of himself
“Loki” follows an “Avengers”-era version of the character who deviates from the “sacred timeline,” a set series of events managed by the Time Variance Authority (TVA). After he’s captured by the TVA, Loki’s tasked with helping it track down a variant of himself – Sylvie, a female Loki hellbent on revenge against the Authority. After facing down an apocalypse together, the two fall in love, which has reality-shattering implications.
Head series writer Michael Waldron told Marvel.com that the love story at the heart of “Loki” made sense because the show is “ultimately about self-love, self-reflection, and forgiving yourself.” While the show cheekily references the serendipity of Loki falling for himself – Agent Mobius, played by Owen Wilson, calls him a “seismic narcissist” in episode 4 – they’re not quite the same person. Director Kate Herron told Marvel.com, Sylvie “is him, but she’s not him.”
In the series finale, Loki and Sylvie share a kiss – just before she emphatically asserts that she isn’t him and betrays him.
The romance has brought the concept of selfcest back into the mainstream
After the show’s fourth episode confirmed that Loki and Sylvie had romantically fallen for each other, conversation began to bubble online about the nature of their relationship. In fact, at least one early review of the series from BBC Culture hypothesized based on the show’s first two episodes that it would likely result in what critic Stephen Kelly called “some of the most perverse fan fiction the internet has ever seen.” The discourse continued in the lead-up to the series finale, which premiered on Wednesday.
-fadz (@Gold_bear190) July 14, 2021
-Cosmonaut Marcus (@CosmonautMarcus) July 12, 2021
That being said, selfcest is far from new.
The Onceler, the main character from “The Lorax” animated film, sparked a passionate fandom on Tumblr that eventually led to fans shipping him with fictional variations of himself in a phenomenon called “Oncest.” That particular event led to selfcest – adjacent to other established tropes like “clonecest” – being mythologized as a kind of pinnacle of fandom shipping weirdness.
For some online, though, the selfcest ship was a divergence from possibly pairing Loki with a male character or further exploring his queerness.
Episode three of the series confirmed that Loki was bisexual, a small but remarkable step within the MCU, and a promo for the series confirmed that Loki was genderfluid.
While the discourse is more complex than simply people being weirded out by selfcest, it’s brought the trope into mainstream discussion in a way that repeats previous discourse online.