Update: Marvel Ends Defense Contractor Partnership Following Backlash

Robert Downey Jr as Tony Stark in Iron Man

Update: in response to overwhelming fan outcry, Marvel Entertainment has followed its original tweet simply saying "This event has been canceled." It's not yet clear if this will impact Marvel's relationship with Northrop Grumman or if the New York Comic-Con event is merely being canceled, but we can hopefully expect a more thorough explanation soon.

This event has been canceled.

— Marvel Entertainment (@Marvel) October 7, 2017

Update 2: Marvel has released the following statement:

“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.”

Original article is as follows...

Marvel Entertainment's announcement of a team-up with defense contractor Northrop Grumman has stirred up controversy, with many fans criticizing the company for going against the core messages of the Marvel brand.

The reveal came during New York Comic-Con 2017, one of the biggest events of the year for comic book fans. It had been a relatively quiet event for Marvel so far, with the biggest announcements including a new character called Morningstar, who will be introduced in the mobile game Contest of Champions, and new Marvel Legends action figures.

Things grew a little less light, however, when Marvel Entertainment announced the partnership with Northrop Grumman via Twitter on Friday. The two companies have teamed up for an Avengers comic that also features freshly-made super-team N.G.E.N. (Northrop Grumman Elite Nexus), and have invited fans to find out more at the Marvel booth on Saturday, indicating that the partnership may extend beyond this comic book.

Marvel and @northropgrumman join forces! Come check out the #MarvelNYCC booth tomorrow at 3pm EST.

— Marvel Entertainment (@Marvel) October 6, 2017

Don't know if you saw it, but it's an all-ages promo comic. Disgusting.

— Zack 'O Lantern ? (@Blankzilla) October 6, 2017

Yes, confirmed Sean Chen. Just opened it up, first page is a full page Northrop Grumman ad

— Steve Floating Face (@StAdkison) October 6, 2017

Northrop Grumman is, essentially, a real-world version of Stark Industries as it was at the beginning of Iron Man. The defense contractor develops and manufactures weapons technology, aerospace technology and cybersecurity systems for commercial customers and the U.S. armed forces. It's a weird partnership for a company best known for family-friendly comic books and giving kids superhero role models to look up to, and the Iron Man parallels weren't missed by angry Marvel fans.

Every Pakistani funeral we bomb, we'll give the survivors a free copy of Secret Empire

— ?OctoberLincoln? (@NovemberLincoln) October 6, 2017

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

It's worth noting that despite the seemingly obvious connection to Tony Stark's first on-screen character arc, Marvel Entertainment has been largely separate from Marvel Studios since 2015, with the latter now answering directly to Disney rather than to Marvel Entertainment CEO Isaac Perlmutter. With that said, Tony Stark's decision to abandon munitions manufacturing was part of comic book canon long before it became a part of the movies.

While Marvel Studios has become a seemingly indestructible force in Hollywood, Marvel Entertainment has experienced some recent stumbles, including the rather flat critical and fan reception of TV shows Iron Fist and The Defenders, and the somewhat eccentric decision to give ABC's new Marvel TV show Inhumans a short theatrical run in IMAX theaters. The partnership with Northrop Grumman, however, is especially bizarre, and it's hard to imagine the "N.G.E.N.s" really catching on as a superhero team.

We'll find out more about the team-up between Marvel Entertainment and Northrop Grumman tomorrow, so stay tuned to Screen Rant for more news from New York Comic Con.

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