Marvel Entertainment will no longer hold a presentation with defense contractor Northrop Grumman at New York Comic Con booth, after backlash arose from readers accusing the comics publisher of promoting war profiteering.
Marvel confirmed late Saturday night via Twitter that the event had been canceled. The comics company did not confirm why the event was pulled, but a comic book created in collaboration with Northrup Grumman, which the event was likely meant to promote, no longer appears on the publisher’s website. Polygon has reached out to both Marvel and Northrop Grumman for comment but has not yet heard back.
This event has been canceled.
— Marvel Entertainment (@Marvel) October 7, 2017
On Friday, Marvel announced on Twitter that it would be hosting an event for a crossover Avengers comic it was working on with Northrop Grumman. The multi-part comic, Avengers, Featuring N.G.E.N. – Start Your N.G.E.N.S!, starred some of Marvel’s famous superheroes and a group of “Elite Nexus” mobile suits designed by Northrop Grumman. Marvel released the first issue online for free ahead of the Comic Con presentation, although it is no longer available.
In 2016, Northrop Grumman was the world’s fifth largest defense contractor, known for creating aerial drones, cybersecurity systems and a medley of other military products. Most of the hardware Northrop Grumman sold was to the U.S. government, generating more than $20 billion.
Details on the project are light — including just how involved Northrop Grumman was involved in the creation — but the comic was geared toward readers of all ages. Readers complained that by selling the comic to young readers, Marvel would be promoting a weapons manufacturer to children.
When Marvel tweeted the initial announcement on Friday, the publisher received more than 1,000 comments from readers disturbed by the crossover. Many people made comparisons to Marvel’s own weapons manufacturer, Tony Stark (as did an ad for Northrop Grumman featured in the comic itself). But, importantly, Stark turned away from arms dealing upon realizing it wasn’t an industry he wanted to be associated with.
Hey y’all remember how Tony Stark stopped selling weapons because he realized he was contributing to global human misery?
— Geoffrey Marshall (@geoffamarshall) October 6, 2017
This sucks and is a super disturbing partnership. You’re partnering with war mongering weapon merchants that are villains in your movies.
— It’s KFG (@KungFu_Grip) October 6, 2017
Quick question, why did you think a partnership with the literal villains in Iron Man 1 was a good idea to begin with?
— JustToWatch (@JustToWatch101) October 7, 2017
Rumblings of people organizing a protest started floating around Twitter just before Marvel tweeted out that it had canceled the event. The presentation was originally supposed to be at 3 p.m. ET today, Oct. 7, and it’s unclear if Marvel will fill that slot with anything else at this time.
It’s also unclear if the comic is being pulled entirely, or if it’s just the event itself that is canceled. We will update when more information becomes available.
Update: Marvel has confirmed to Polygon that the partnership between the comics publisher and Northrop Grumman has ended. The full statement can be read below.
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.