Last Friday, Marvel announced on Twitter that it was joining forces with Northop Grumman, a prominent defense contractor. The first phase of the joint venture would allow Northop Grumman to market itself to a younger audience in special edition comic books featuring a young task force (akin to S.H.I.E.L.D) named "Northop Grumman Elite Nexus," or N.G.E.N for short. To say the least, this announcement did not go over well.
Marvel and Northop Grumman were set to unveil their partnership to the world at New York Comic Con over the Columbus Day weekend; however, shortly after the announcement, fans began to push back.
Marvel Receives Intense Backlash Over Partnership With Northop Grumman
Northop Grumman is a weapons manufacturer with a market cap of $20 billlion and has lucrative contracts with all military branches across the United States Department of Defense. Many fans on Twitter saw Marvel’s partnership with Northop Grumman as the company taking a "pro-war profiteering" stance, and the fact that the joint venture was marketed at children only made it worse.
Twitter quickly filled with comments condemning the partnership, with most of social media siding against Marvel:
The flood of complaints and criticism from fans continued, with most people shocked that Marvel didn’t have the foresight to recognize that their partnership would illicit such a reaction. Less than a day after the initial announcement was made, Marvel responded to the criticism by canceling their upcoming event at New York Comic Con.
Marvel Ends Its Promotional Partnership Amidst Controversy
While it was a smart move from Marvel to cancel their collaboration event with Northop Grumman at NYCC 2017, most fans were still upset that the partnership wasn’t dissolved completely. After reevaluating their partnership with the defense contractor, Marvel released an official statement announcing their partnership had been terminated. The statement reads as follows:
“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.”
As Marvel said in its statement, the intent was to promote Northop Grumman’s focus on aerospace technology and exploration — which the company does represent — but Marvel failed to recognize the other side. Much like Marvel’s own fictional defense contractor, Stark Industries, Northop Grumman is also heavily involved in the military industrial complex.
Whatever Marvel’s original intentions might have been, the dissolution of their partnership with Northrop Grumman was a wise P.R. move, but sadly, the damage has already been done. Although the #MCU flourishing on screen, the publishing side of Marvel has had a rough time finding its footing this year.
Hopefully, the future will be brighter for the massive comic company, but for now, fans are left wanting.
Sound off! What did you think of Marvel's promotional partnership with Northop Grumman? Let your voice be heard in the comments section below.