The following letter comes from Bill Jemas, President of Marvel Comics:
Official Press Release
Joe Quesada told me this would happen.
Joe said, “Take out the ‘n . . . . ‘. People will be offended.”
“But, Joe,” I said, “Iron Man doesn’t utter the ‘n’ word. Black Panther stops him.”
“But people go nuts over words,” Joe said.
“But, Joe, really read the words,” I said. “Iron Man moved his factory out of a black neighborhood and down to Mexico because ‘the wages are low and the Mexican’s work like ‘n . . . .’ But Black Panther reminds him that ‘people will think less of you if you say a bad word.'”
“I get it, Bill,” Joe said. “Black Panther tells his friend to hide his evil deed (destroying the black neighborhood) behind politically correct language.”
“But get this, Bill,” Joe said again. “People go nuts over words.”
“But look at the pictures,” I said. “They show what the book is all about. Spike Lee, a black man, plays a white guy — the Kingpin — and does a kick-@$$ job.”
So, I didn’t listen to Joe.
And people got upset.
While I don’t think I ‘owe’ an apology to the world, I’ll give one anyway to the people who were offended — “I am sorry about that” — and I offer the following explanation…
MARVILLE #2 is about comic book morals. In the beginning, it parodies comics that treat morals like slogans, “Heroes fight crime,” and “good guys fight bad guys”. In the end, it parodies a troubling moral issue in the comic community: complaints voiced by comic book fans whose favorite character is portrayed by an actor of a different race in a TV show or movie. In the upcoming Daredevil film, for example, New Regency and Marvel Studios cast a black man as the Kingpin.
I explained the issue to my kids, like this: “The best actor for the for
the part of Kingpin is a black man, but Kingpin, in Marvel comics, is
white.” I asked what they would do.
They said, more or less, “Just change Kingpin to black in the comics. You
can’t change the actor from black to white — he’s a real person — but
you can make the comic-book Kingpin black. That’s easy. The Kingpin was
just made up by Stan Lee.”
But people do go nuts over a character’s appearance. Some people like
their heroes set in stone like icons — frozen not just in their
personality, but in their physicality.
There was also talk of casting an Asian actress as Elektra. Listen,
Elektra is Greek, I am a Greek man, and Greek people don’t have much going
on in the movies except Elektra in Daredevil and My Big Fat Greek Wedding.
But I would have supported a decision to cast an Asian woman as Elektra,
just as I applaud the decision to cast a black man as Kingpin.
How’s this for a universal moral truth – that would hold in every religion
and philosophy: “When it comes down to a Comic Icon vs. Human Life, choose
Human Life every time.”
I enjoy the comic community, because, in general, the people who live and
work here have a strong sense of morality. But, I do find it ironic that
some of Marvel’s most avid readers — our “True Believers” — sometimes
forget their personal morality when in the heat of their loyalty to our
MARVILLE #2 is a friendly, if politically incorrect, reminder.
p.s. Another friendly reminder: This U-Decide thing wasn’t a one-month stunt — it’s a six-month stunt — and it isn’t over by a long shot. Have you seen how far behind CAPTAIN MARVEL has started to lag? Let’s hope Peter David’s supporters will stick with him for all six issues.
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