In what will likely be seen as a case study for business and marketing majors in the years to come, Marvel recently announced a joint venture with defense contractor Northrop Grumman, only to quickly cancel their plans to partner with the corporation after receiving a significantly negative response on social media, accusing the comic book company of joining forces with a war profiteer.
This backlash couldn’t have come at a more difficult time for the company that has turned into a television and cinema powerhouse but has seen consistent drops in sales for their namesake comic books. A combination of things can be blamed for Marvel’s lost revenue on the printed side of the house: their clunky efforts toward adopting digital distribution methods, their shift toward releasing multiple special edition cover variants of single issues for collectors instead of good stories for readers, or just the gradual shift in the way the American public chooses to spend its time… but Marvel has responded to the lower numbers with a series of controversial decisions that have drawn the ire of groups on both the right and left side of the American political divide.
Heroes and stories have been changed to match what some on the right consider to be “liberal leaning” views, and attempts to grab headlines by doing things like making Captain America a secret Nazi, unsurprisingly to us normal people, didn’t result in a huge influx of sales past the initial issue that first drew the world’s attention.
Which brings us to their latest scandal – the short-lived partnership of Marvel Comics and the company that built America’s B-2 stealth bomber, which was intended to help drive a focus on STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) subjects for younger readers, while certainly buying Northrop some good press and shining a light on Marvel’s comic books.