The Comical Social Justice Warrior
In a much simpler time, growing up as a boy in America came with several rites of passage: Skinned knees from falling off your bicycle, trading baseball cards with your friends, or reading the exploits of your favorite superheroes when the newest editions of their respective comic books came out. Perhaps you thrilled to the adventures of Steve Rogers as Captain America, Peter Parker as Spider-Man, Thor, Iron Man, or the X-Men as a child.
Boys in 2017 still may skin their knees from falling off a bicycle (in those rare instances when they play outside in an unsupervised fashion) but they now place their baseball cards in sleeves for collection and, since the aforementioned comics are all now under the Marvel Comics banner, the forces of political correctness (and desire to milk the characters for all they’re worth) have taken over that branch of publishing. So Steve Rogers has died and been reborn multiple times, Peter Parker was shoved aside for the multi-racial Miles Morales, Thor is now a female, and Iron Man has evolved into the black teenage female Ironheart. And the X-Men? According to writer Matt Battaglia, “[T]he new villain of the X-Men Universe is a barely disguised stand-in for the Heritage Foundation and the X-Men assault the president of said organization.”
Marvel’s lesser known heroes, like Harlem’s Luke Cage, are also being used for the social justice message. And no one’s buying it. Heat Street reports, “[L]iberal darling Ta-Nehisi Coates and Yona Harvey's Black Panther & The Crew is getting the axe after poor sales, just two issues after its launch.” The crew is an all-black group of superheroes facing a Black Lives Matter problem — cops who beat people up for no reason.
This venture into “relevance” isn’t surprising. In recent years, Marvel has broken various social conventions such as same-sex marriage in its comic books, gaining a temporary boost in sales but not arresting a long-term slide in the genre. One problem is that Marvel has attempted to replace these tried and true characters with new, more politically correct versions in the comic book world but their movies more or less maintain the original incarnations. If that were the only problem, it could be simply chalked up to poor marketing and left at that.
But it seems the Marvel empire is suffering from some of the same problems that bedevil ESPN, which recently laid off 100 key staff members in a cost-cutting move. That’s because ESPN is hemorrhaging viewers thanks to its push into leftist politics.
Sports and comic books have one thing in common: both provide an escape from the everyday world, and the introduction of the politically correct was an unwelcome intrusion — based on ratings and unit sales, anyway.
There was no need to create a multi-racial Spider-Man or teenage Ironheart or to make the millennia-old Norse god of thunder a woman. But there could have been new characters with different powers as well as the politically correct characteristics desired. If the characters and storylines were likable, believable, and well-written and illustrated, they would have found their market. Unfortunately, as one of these commentators found, the studio at Marvel is an echo chamber of far-left, politically correct ideas, where there is diversity in everything but thought: hence, you have new portrayals of beloved characters in ways people don’t like anymore. And when they don’t like the character, they don’t buy the comic books. Marvel chose to mess with success and it’s costing them current and future readers.
No one is suggesting that we return to some of the stereotypical humor and portrayals that were common in comics of old, especially in wartime. But why can’t we have the characters we grew up with given new and more exciting adventures and villains to match wits against?