In the first Iron Man film, Tony Stark is a defense contractor who sees the error of his ways after he is captured by terrorists and sees his own weapons in their hands. He turns his back on being a merchant of death and decides to devote himself to doing good and being a hero. It was the successful start to the Marvel Cinematic Universe and it launched the company into blockbuster status almost immediately. But for some fans on Friday, the opposite seemed to be true for the company thanks to one tweet:
According to Variety, Marvel had plans to work with defense contractor Northrop Grumman on an undisclosed project that was set to be announced at New York Comic-Con on Saturday. Many saw this as Marvel getting into bed with the military industrial complex due to Northrop Grumman’s background:
While Northrop Grumman does not manufacture guns, it does deal in cybersecurity systems, bombers, laser weapon systems, aerial drones, and other military hardware, selling mostly to the U.S. government and generating more than $20 billion in revenue each year.
A rash of complaints and shocked reactions online quickly flooded in, prompting the company to announce the event had been canceled with a tweet in the middle of the night.
Marvel followed this with an official statement announcing the cancellation of the entire partnership with the defense contractor while also sharing the intentions of the project that were absent during the initial announcement:
“The activation with Northrop Grumman at New York Comic Con was meant to focus on aerospace technology and exploration in a positive way. However, as the spirit of that intent has not come across, we will not be proceeding with this partnership, including this weekend’s event programming. Marvel and Northrop Grumman continue to be committed to elevating, and introducing, STEM to a broad audience.”
One of the biggest complaints was that the company was trying to sell a defense contractor and war economy to kids, supported by “promotional all-ages comic” created by Marvel that placed The Avengers with a team of kids named the Northrop Grumman Elite Nexus. According to Variety, the comic would’ve featured career recruitment ads, a contest offering to have young fans drawn into the comic, and the tagline, “Start Your N.G.E.N.s.” While these companies do a lot more than just create weapons, you have to wonder what the thinking was behind this?