The Walt Disney Company likes to trumpet their progressive credentials at every opportunity. For example, when two women kissed somewhere in the background of Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker, they billed it as a big step forward for representation. These tiny gestures have often frustrated fans though, as they’re quite rightly argued as being inconsequential additions designed to tick a ‘woke’ box.
Still, Disney did come out in support of Black Lives Matter in the wake of the murder of George Floyd. They posted a message saying they stand with “the entire Black community” and pledged $5 million to BLM-related causes.
All of which makes it a bit of a head-scratcher that they quietly erased the iconic BLM fist from the cover of 2019 comic Miles Morales: Spider-Man #9. The symbol has long been used to represent Civil Rights movements and since the murder of Michael Brown in 2014 has become associated with BLM protests. So, why did they get rid of it?
Well, the symbol isn’t trademarked or copyrighted, so there’s no IP issue. Fans on social media suspect that it’s simply cowardice from Marvel editors who don’t want their comics to make any specific political statements. This is particularly depressing given Marvel Comics’ long history of supporting civil rights and progressive causes, with one fan summing it up as so:
“Remember in the 60’s when X-Men was an unapologetic allegory for racial prejudice? Marvel’s really taken a dive.”
Looming over all this is Ike Perlmutter, chairman of Marvel Entertainment. Perlmutter is notoriously conservative and was one point even put forward as a plausible appointee by the Trump presidency. He’s notorious for battling against anything vaguely inclusive being promoted by Marvel and while I don’t know if he’d micromanage something as small as an individual comic cover, I wouldn’t be surprised if editors had been given strict content guidelines on what can and can’t be shown in Marvel Comics.