Marvel is Propaganda: We Need To Be Aware of It

On Monday night (Sept. 12), a friend showed up at my door, visibly upset. Her distress was understandable when I asked her what was wrong and she showed me Disney’s latest announcement: Israeli superhero, Sabra, is to appear in Marvel’s upcoming movie, Captain America: New World Order. For many Palestinians, my friend included, this announcement is disappointing and frustrating, but unfortunately, not surprising. This movie is a reflection of the anti-Palestinian sentiment that is rampent in Western media, as well as Marvel’s long legacy of propaganda. 


To understand why Palestinians and those who support Palestine are so distraught, let’s take a look at Sabra, as she appears in the pages of The Incredible Hulk. In these comics, Sabra is a Mossad agent and former member of the Israeli police force. For those who don’t know, Mossad is the national intelligence agency of Israel, and has been linked to atrocities against Palestinian civilians. The romanticization of Mossad, which is inherent in portraying a superhuman agent from the organization, is insensitive to the suffering that Palestinians have faced at its behest. The comics poorly represent Palestinian people, characterizing them as violent terrorists and referring to them only as “Arabs.” The refusal to use the term “Palestinians” invalidates their identity as an ethnic group and, in turn, further contributes to Zionist ideology. Although little is known about Sabra’s character as she will be represented in the movie — set to be released in 2024 — Palestinians have little hope, and in fact are fearful of what the movie’s effect on the general public will be.


That brings us to what is perhaps most concerning about Sabra’s appearance in Captain America: New World Order, which is the effect it may have on the average Marvel fan, who may not be familiar with the conflict in Palestine or the intricacies of topics such as Zionism, the two-state solution, etc. This notion brings to mind Marvel’s long history of propaganda, particularly in the Captain America movies and comics. Captain Marvel, Iron Man, WandaVision, and of course, Captain America; all of these are productions that the FBI or Pentagon have had a hand in making. This is dangerous. The average movie-goer isn’t keeping an eye out for propaganda, especially when watching something as mainstream as a Marvel movie. For many, Captain America: New World Over will be the first time Mossad, or the Israeli government in general, is portrayed on the big screen. The potential for that first exposure to be the glorification of an oppressor or the justification of an apartheid is real and it is scary.