Marvel has ended its comics partnership with defense contractor Northrop Grumman, having previously cancelled Saturday’s New York Comic Con announcement event, after facing criticism for seemingly promoting war profiteering.
Here’s the official statement from Marvel:
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.
Marvel previously teased a major announcement at its New York Comic Con booth on Saturday involving a team-up with Northrop Grumman, which was the world’s fifth-largest defense contractor last year. The company doesn’t sell guns, but it deals in cybersecurity systems, bombers, laser weapon systems, aerial drones, and other military hardware, selling mostly to the US government, generating over $20-billion in revenue each year.
There’s not a lot of information available on how extensive the partnership would have been, but it featured a promotional all-ages comic (which is no longer on Marvel’s website) starring the Avengers and the “Northrop Grumman Elite Nexus,” or N.G.E.N. The comic featured the tagline “Start Your N.G.E.N.s,” and it included career recruitment advertisements and a contest where readers could enter to be drawn into an upcoming issue.
Fans immediately criticized Marvel for the partnership, accusing it of trying to propagandize the Military-Industrial Complex to children. They brought up how Tony Stark eventually stopped selling his weapons to the military after realizing he was contributing to a global crisis, and how this partnership contradicts one of its main characters’ own journeys.
This announcement follows the cancellation of Marvel’s The Punisher panel and episode screening in the wake of the Las Vegas mass shooting. We’ve reached out to Marvel for more information, as well as Northrop Grumman for comment on the situation.
Updated with announcement of partnership cancellation.