It is type of exhausting to make gestures like cancelling a doubtlessly tone-deaf panel land whenever you’re additionally serving to a significant protection contractor polish up its picture.
That is the state of affairs Marvel discovered itself in as New York Comedian Con kicked off on Friday with an announcement that the writer had partnered with Northrop Grumman. The Virginia-based protection and aerospace know-how agency is without doubt one of the U.S. army’s greatest purchasers, specializing in all the things from cybersecurity to weapons of conflict.
Marvel, dealing with fast backlash, referred to as off the collaboration earlier than Friday was even over. A public assertion from the comics writer acknowledged the tough optics, however pledged to proceed working with Northrop Grumman on their broader mission (through Display screen Rant).
The activation with Northrop Grumman at New York Comedian Con was meant to deal with aerospace know-how and exploration in a optimistic approach. Nonetheless, because the spirit of that intent has not come throughout, we is not going to be continuing with this partnership together with this weekend’s occasion programming. Marvel and Northrop Grumman proceed to be dedicated to elevating, and introducing, STEM to a broad viewers.
The backlash centered on the perceived hypocrisy of Marvel allying itself with a protection contractor. Tony Stark, the human inside Iron Man’s armor, is the boss of the fictional tech agency and protection contractor Stark Industries. Many takes on the character, together with his latest MCU portrayal, focus particularly on Tony wrestling with considerations over his firm’s conflict profiteering.
That story thread is a not-at-all-subtle commentary on the modern-day prevalence of protection contractors that construct their enterprise round manufacturing instruments of conflict and working in conflict zones — generally referred to as the “military-industrial advanced.”
The total extent of what the 2 corporations have been cooking up was by no means revealed. Together with the assertion, Marvel additionally faraway from its web site one of many solely tangible merchandise of the partnership: A particular version Avengers comedian that includes “N.G.E.N.” — quick for “Northrop Grumman Elite Nexus” — as visitor stars.
Whether or not or not critiques of Northrop Grumman’s enterprise pursuits are legitimate is in addition to the purpose; right here, we see Marvel responding to individuals’s notion of the partnership. Superhero comics aren’t solely for teenagers, however it’s exhausting to make a case for this tie-in comedian being something aside from kid-friendly propaganda.
The announcement-then-abrupt-cancellation of Marvel’s Northrop Grumman deal may be very a lot consistent with the writer’s image-conscious strategy to the 2017 version of New York Comedian Con.
Marvel additionally cancelled a deliberate panel for the upcoming Netflix sequence, The Punisher. The violent story of a vigilante anti-hero who views himself as a street-level choose, jury, and executioner reduce just a bit too near the tragic occasions that occurred in Las Vegas earlier this week.
Instead of the Punisher panel, Marvel swapped in a screening for a documentary about Stan Lee, creator of a few of the writer’s most well-known properties. Lee additionally repped for Marvel earlier within the week with a pre-recorded message meant to remind viewers that the corporate’s comedian books are for everybody… apart from those who subscribe to “racist [beliefs], intolerance, or bigotry.”