Marvel has had a tough year. Embroiled in controversy after controversy over its current Captain America storyline, the comic book studio has been in damage control mode since last July, when it revealed that their stars-and-stripes-adorned hero was actually part of Hydra, a crypto-Nazi group.
The superhero was created by two Jewish men back in the 1940s, and made his debut by socking Hitler across the face, so readers were shocked to learn that the once proudly all-American Steve Rogers had sided with a fascistic terror group. This twist, which was masterminded by comic writer Nick Spencer, has run through various Marvel comic series, including Captain America: Steve Rogers, Captain America: Sam Wilson and the ongoing Secret Empire.
As Marvel’s own in-universe history says, Hydra and the Nazis aren’t exactly one and the same – but amid the backlash, readers won’t necessarily have recognised the distinction between the Nazis and a proxy group founded by a Nazi (Baron Wolfgang Von Strucker). Petitions have sprung up asking Marvel to reverse the storyline. For months, thousands of fans have been voicing their shock and anger, complete with a dedicated hashtag: #SayNoToHYDRACap, where they complain that Marvel has “ruined Cap” and had made him “more relatable to bigots who want to see themselves as heroes”. And, more ominously for the studio, #boycottMarvel.