Did Marvel Comics Censor an Anti-Trump Joke From Marvel Two-in-One?

by Avi Green
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Several comic news sites are reporting that Marvel Comics had removed a joke from the new Marvel Two-in-One series that supposedly attacked U.S. President Trump. Marvel Two-In-One #1 by Chip Zdarsky and Jim Cheung teased and tantalised about the return of the Fantastic Four, by putting The Thing and Human Torch in their own title. However a early, uncolored draft of some early art featured Spider-Man possibly making a joke at the U.S. President’s expense. That version has been relettered and changed in the finished product. And it’s probably for the best, though another comics website likely doesn’t think so. But anyway, here’s what they say about a certain stakeholder in their coverage:

Marvel Comics chairman Ike Perlmutter is one of the largest donors to President Donald Trump‘s campaigns and charities, part of the Trump administration, working on Veteran Affairs, and he is a personal friend of the man, a member of President Trump’s Mar-A-Lago club and was on Trump’s table for dinner over Thanksgiving weekend.

Permutter also personally intervened during a clash between Marvel and Fox several years ago over the movie licensing of the Fantastic Four. And in an exercise of thumbing his nose at Fox, specifically stopping Marvel from publishing any more Fantastic Four comics, licensing the Fantastic Four, doing anything with the characters that names them as the Fantastic Four.

It is fair to say that most of Marvel’s employees do not share his views.

Some Marvel employees, no doubt, don’t share his political leanings, though what if they do share his alleged view of FF? It’s not like they’ve ever respected the FF to start with. But I’ll admit that, if Perlmutter had anything to do with marketing decisions leading to the FF’s cancellation on grounds they didn’t want to help the movie’s prospects (when it’s usually expected to go the other way around), that was poor, and his reported dislike for Stan Lee and failure to rein in all the leftist kooks Marvel hired did nothing to help the company’s image of recent.

Now, let’s take a moment to look at 2 panels pertinent to the case in point, one an early draft and the other from the finished product:

I honestly don’t know if the joke about an orange monster really alludes to Trump, but they must’ve thought so, and because of all the scrutiny they’ve come under of recent, they figured it was best to back away from all the trouble they caused over the past years.

ComicBook says:

It’s unclear if the joke was cut due to the insult seemingly feeling out of place or obvious, as anyone reading the comic would immediately know who it was referencing and potentially take the reader out of the scene.

Another possibility is that the higher-ups at Marvel took a second glance at the joke and didn’t want to politicize the characters in any context, hoping to omit any political reference.

Possibly the most interesting details about the joke’s omission is that Marvel Comics chairman Ike Perlmutter is a massive Trump supporter, both in donating to his campaigns and meeting with the former reality show host on multiple occasions. Perlmutter is also part of the Trump Administration, working on Veteran Affairs, and reportedly spent Thanksgiving with the President-elect.

With Perlmutter being at the top of the food chain at Marvel, one might think controlling one line of dialogue in one comic would be beneath him, yet he regularly takes an active involvement in all facets of the company.

Gee, if he really wanted to, he could’ve ground Quesada/Alonso’s antics to a screeching halt years ago, but he didn’t. He could’ve done all possible to improve their creative side – even got them to stop blacklisting fellow conservatives like Chuck Dixon and Mike Baron, but again…he didn’t. Perlmutter, honestly speaking, was a major disappointment, who cared more about the movies adapted from the comics than the comics themselves. My theory is he was so terrified of incurring the left’s wrath, he stood silently by and did nothing. Based on that assessment, why should most conservatives think of Perlmutter as some kind of a godsend?

Inverse, who also brought it up, said:

…Trump has yet to make an explicit appearance as the president in a Marvel comic. He’s a controversial figure, to say the least, so having him hang out with Captain America or Spider-Man would put Marvel in a tricky position. […]

But Obama hanging out with Spider-Man wouldn’t? Yeah, we get it.

The line’s removal shouldn’t be a huge scandal, as it’s just a random, petty chuckle, but it is curious that someone at Marvel backtracked. […]

If it’s not scandalous, then don’t pursue the matter any further. In fact, if you don’t like President Donald Trump, then his absence from the MCU should be great news, as you obviously don’t want him around anyway, Inverse writers presumably, they don’t want politics invading their comics? Then what’s their whole point ridiculing conservatives who’ve come to think the same? They should be glad President Trump’s not around to make ’em moan. Though I’m sure they still don’t intend to buy and read the comics anyway.

For all we know, the omitted line in the new variation on the old semi-anthology series first launched by Steve Gerber in the Bronze Age (later succeeded by The Thing solo in the mid-80s) could just as easily have been alluding to some of the Muppets cast (IIRC, Scooter the gopher and Fozzie the bear were orange colored) who were a big thing back at the time when Marvel was in a better situation. So truly, we don’t know for sure the line had anything to do with Trump. As a result, I’d say this was just a tedious attempt by the above news sites to create drama for the sake of drama.

If it was about President Trump, could this be the influence of new Marvel Comics Editor in Chief C.B. Cebulski who just recently replaced Axel Alonso?

Could be.

Originally posted at the Four Color Media Monitor
Follow @avigreen1 on Twitter

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