HEAT VISION

Marvel Removes Essay Critical of America in 80th Anniversary Issue

The original version described the U.S. system as "deeply flawed" and appeared in early preview copies of the comic sent to retailers.
Alex Ross/Marvel Entertainment
The original version described the U.S. system as "deeply flawed" and appeared in early preview copies of the comic sent to retailers.

Less than two weeks after Maus author Art Spiegelman said that Marvel had refused an essay because of a critical reference to President Donald Trump, The Hollywood Reporter has learned that an essay in Marvel Comics No. 1000 that described America as “deeply flawed” and called for people to take to the streets has similarly been removed after appearing in early preview copies.

The essay, written by Mark Waid, accompanied a full-page image of Captain America by John Cassaday and Laura Martin and was intended to tie in with the 1944 release of the first Captain America movie serial. In the piece, Waid wrote about the imperfections of the current American political system.

“The system isn’t just. We’ve treated some of our own abominably,” he wrote. “Worse, we’ve perpetuated the myth that any American can become anything, can achieve anything, through sheer force of will. And that’s not always true. This isn’t the land of opportunity for everyone. The American ideals aren’t always shared fairly. Yet without them, we have nothing.”

Waid went on to write, “America’s systems are flawed, but they’re our only mechanism with which to remedy inequality on a meaningful scale. Yes, it’s hard and bloody work. But history has shown us that we can, bit by bit, right that system when enough of us get angry. When enough of us take to the streets and force those in power to listen. When enough of us call for revolution and say, ‘Injustice will not stand.’”

Marvel Comics No. 1000 is the centerpiece of Marvel's 80th anniversary celebrations.

The essay appeared in an early version of the $9.99 release sent to comic store retailers by Marvel in July in an attempt to raise orders for the issue. In the final version of Marvel Comics No. 1000, in stores Wednesday, the essay has been replaced by a less critical piece, also credited to Waid, that is more directly tied to Captain America, and notably less critical of the U.S., talking about the way in which Captain America’s mask is worn as a reminder that Captain America is representative of an ideal, not a person.

“It’s a commitment to fight every day for justice, for acceptance and equality, and for the rights of everyone in this nation. At its best, this is a good country filled with people who recognize that those — not hatred, not bigotry, not exclusion — are the values of true patriotism,” the new essay explains in the closest it comes to any kind of political or social criticism.

The change follows the news that Spiegelman had been asked to remove mention of “the Orange Skull” in an introduction to an upcoming Marvel reprint collection because, he was told, Marvel “is not allowing its publications to take a political stance.” The essay was later published by The Guardian.

Marvel Entertainment CEO and chairman Ike Perlmutter is a longtime friend and supporter of Trump, a member of Trump’s Mar-a-Lago club in Florida and reportedly part of a group of business people making policy decisions about the Department of Veteran Affairs behind the scenes. He is known to be one of the largest individual donors to the Trump campaign, having recently donated the maximum amount of $360,000 to the president’s re-election effort, making him perhaps particularly touchy about comments about the U.S. system being flawed or calling for people to take to the streets to voice their anger.

Marvel Comics No. 1000, announced in May, is a special issue in which each page was created by a different team of writers and artists and representative of a single year in Marvel’s output. The issue was edited by Marvel executive editor Tom Brevoort.

Marvel officially declined to comment on the matter, although a Marvel insider noted that the version sent to retailers was not final and that pages are always subject to change. The essay was tweaked to better fit the tone of the book, said the insider.

Read the original essay below:

I’m asked how it’s possible to love a country that’s deeply flawed.

It’s hard sometimes. The system isn’t just. We’ve treated some of our own abominably.

Worse, we’ve perpetuated the myth that any American can become anything, can achieve anything, through sheer force of will. And that’s not always true. This isn’t the land of opportunity for everyone. The American ideals aren’t always shared fairly.

Yet without them, we have nothing.

With nothing, cynicism becomes reality. With nothing, for the privileged and the disenfranchised both, our way of life ceases to exist. We must always remember that America, as imperfect as it is, has something. It has ideals that give it structure.

When the structure works, we get schools. We get roads and hospitals. We get a social safety net. More importantly, when we have structure, we have a foundation upon which to rebuild the American Dream — that equal opportunity can be available to absolutely everyone.

America’s systems are flawed, but they’re our only mechanism with which to remedy inequality on a meaningful scale. Yes, it’s hard and bloody work. But history has shown us that we can, bit by bit, right that system when enough of us get angry. When enough of us take to the streets and force those in power to listen. When enough of us call for revolution and say, “Injustice will not stand.”

That’s what you can love about America.

Aug. 27, 4:32 p.m. Updated to include the full essay.

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