Marvel Comics, which has been praised for its adoption of diverse characters in recent years, has said these characters are responsible for killing its sales.
Speaking at the Marvel Retailer Summit last week, David Gabriel, vice-president of sales, said readers “were turning their noses up” at anything that was not a core Marvel character.
This includes characters like Riri Williams, a black teenager who took over the Iron Man storyline, and Kamala Khan, a Muslim teenage girl who is the current Ms Marvel.
While Marvel films are still generating profit, the comics have seen sales slide since October. Gabriel told the online trade magazine iCv2 that this decline is largely due to readers opting to read their favourite core characters like Spider-Man, the Hulk and Captain America, rather than the new, more diverse ones.
“What we heard was that people didn’t want any more diversity. They didn’t want female characters out there. That’s what we heard, whether we believe that or not.
“We saw the sales of any character that was diverse, any character that was new, our female characters, anything that was not a core Marvel character, people were turning their nose up against," he said.
Gabriel later backpedalled on his comments to iCv2, affirming that new characters like Squirrel Girl, Ms. Marvel, The Mighty Thor, Spider-Gwen, Miles Morales, and Moon Girl are indeed popular and “are not going anywhere.”
“Discussed candidly by some of the retailers at the summit, we heard that some were not happy with the false abandonment of the core Marvel heroes and, contrary to what some said about characters ‘not working,’ the sticking factor and popularity for a majority of these new titles and characters like Squirrel Girl, Ms. Marvel, The Mighty Thor, Spider-Gwen, Miles Morales, and Moon Girl, continue to prove that our fans and retailers ARE excited about these new heroes,” he said in a statement to iCv2.
“And let me be clear, our new heroes are not going anywhere! We are proud and excited to keep introducing unique characters that reflect new voices and new experiences into the Marvel Universe and pair them with our iconic heroes.”
Twitter users reacted to the comments, blaming the price of the comics and “event fatigue” as reasons for the decline in sales, not diversity.
Marvel Fans: We're tired of relaunches, inconsistent creative teams & events
Marvel: Oh, totally. So tired of women & minorities. I hear ya
— Fairy God Bottom (@brownlashon) April 1, 2017
Marvel thinks diversity is ruining their sales? Idk, MAYBE turning Captain America, a worldwide symbol, into a nazi has something to do — ㅤmanu (@hoesling) April 2, 2017
If diversity did hurt Marvel sales why isnt the question why dont straight white men read outside of their identity when everyone else does?
— Tiffany Rose (@FromPawnToQueen) April 3, 2017