To celebrate the franchise’s 80th birthday, Marvel are releasing a history of the golden age of comics alongside some classic reproductions. However, there’s been a slight hitch – the writer of the book’s introduction has upset the Marvel chair’s Trump-loving sensibilities by correlating Nazi-brand fascism with the US president’s rhetoric.
Plenty of people would rather their entertainment be apolitical, and sanitised enough for everyone to enjoy it. Take Thanos for example – the villain of the MCU’s Infinity Saga is a big purple giant with a magic glove, so it’s pretty hard to find any real world parallels. Mind you, he apparently does have some allies IRL..?
But Art Spiegelman doesn’t stand for that nonsense. His father, Vladek, was a survivor of the Holocaust, and the inspiration for his prize-winning 80s serial MAUS. I’d say he’s pretty qualified to speak on the themes of the early Marvel comics, which were basically all about America fighting Nazi Germany, even when that was a controversial concept.
There were no subtleties in Captain America‘s original narrative – Hitler was one of his first enemies, and he’s been up against HYDRA (who are basically a rebranded Nazi organisation) ever since. And as Spiegelman points out in his essay, which has since been published in the Guardian, many of the pioneers of the form were Jews and other ethnic minorities, whose real world experiences contributed to the works thematically.
However, out of all the discussion of fascist imagery and the immigrants who brought Marvel into existence, there was one line that the publishers just couldn’t abide by:
“In today’s all too real world, Captain America’s most nefarious villain, the Red Skull, is alive on screen and an Orange Skull haunts America.”
Even without mentioning Trump by name, it was enough for the Marvel compilation’s publishers to request an edit, leaving Spiegelman to withdraw the introduction rather than be censored.
Seeing as how Ike Perlmutter, the chair of Marvel Entertainment and once CEO, has links to the Trump administration as a donor and advisor at Mar-A-Lago, it’s no wonder that they don’t want to rock the boat too much. Guess we’ll just have to be satisfied with slightly more abstract social commentary in our comics and movies from now on.