Loki director addresses 'incest' storyline in the Marvel series

Director Kate Herron discusses the interesting romance that develops in Marvel's latest Disney Plus series.

Jennifer Bisset Former Senior Editor / Culture
Jennifer Bisset was a senior editor for CNET. She covered film and TV news and reviews. The movie that inspired her to want a career in film is Lost in Translation. She won Best New Journalist in 2019 at the Australian IT Journalism Awards.
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  • Best New Journalist 2019 Australian IT Journalism Awards
Jennifer Bisset
2 min read

Sylvie (Sophia Di Martino) and Loki (Tom Hiddleston) are both variants of the God of Mischief.


Loki brought time travel madness, complicated bureaucratic organizations and a brand-new villain to dethrone Thanos as Marvel's next big bad. Yet the most eyebrow-raising introduction of the Disney Plus series? A romantic fling between Loki (Tom Hiddleston) and a Loki variant (Sophia Di Martino). Aka a female version of Loki, their relationship of sorts labeled by some as "incest."

Technically, Loki and Sylvie aren't brother and sister, but different versions of the same person. Some have labeled this "self-cest" (just check Twitter). Thankfully, Kate Herron, director of all six episodes of the first season (a second is in development), has stepped in to clear the air.

"My interpretation of it is that they're both Lokis, but they aren't the same person," Herron said in a recent interview with Polygon. "I don't see them as being like brother and sister. They have completely different backgrounds … and I think that's really important to her character. They sort of have the same role in terms of the universe and destiny, but they won't make the same decisions."

Herron added that the relationship symbolizes "self-love."

"[The show is] looking at the self and asking 'What makes us us?'" Herron said. "I mean, look at all the Lokis across the show, they're all completely different. I think there's something beautiful about his romantic relationship with Sylvie, but they're not interchangeable."

Here's what series creator Michael Waldron -- who's also the co-writer for Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness -- had to say about the romantic relationship.

"That was one of the cruxes of my pitch [for the series], that there was going to be a love story," Waldron said in an interview published on Marvel.com. "We went back and forth for a little bit about, like do we really want to have this guy fall in love with another version of himself? Is that too crazy? But in a series that, to me, is ultimately about self-love, self-reflection and forgiving yourself, it just felt right that that would be Loki's first real love story."

Herron added that there's no better match for Loki than himself.

"Who's a better match for Loki than himself? The whole show is about identity. It's about him and he is on a very different path, and he is on a different journey. He sees things in Sylvie that he is like, 'Oh, I've been there. I know what you feel.' But she's like, 'Well, I don't feel that way.'"

"And I think that was the kind of fun thing about it. She is him, but she's not him. They've had such different life experiences. So just from an identity perspective, it was interesting to dig into that."

The next Marvel show on Disney Plus is What If...? The animated series arrives on Wednesday, Aug. 11.

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