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Parting Shot: New Marvel T-Shirts Tell Boys They Can Be Heroes, And Girls That A Hero Will Save Them

Following the success of the Avengers film, and with Iron Man 3 set to hit theaters next month, the characters who make up Marvels Avengers team are more recognizable than ever. Naturally, the publisher is taking advantage of that fact via merchandise, including the two t-shirts pictured above.

Of course, aside from the cut of the shirts, the second you look at them you instantly know which is meant for boys and which is for girls, and therein lies quite a problem.Marvel had no comment when asked, but these shirts were seemingly both licensed out to a manufacturer — which is to say, not produced by Marvel– and there’s an excellent chance that their creation was not directly overseen by anyone in the Marvel offices. That’s simply the nature of licensing: the content owner at times does not closely review every licensed product. Further, I’ve not been able to ascertain who made both shirts (the Iron Man tee was made by Mighty Fine). It’s possible they were manufactured by two different companies, meaning this could really just be a case of one middle man making a perfectly acceptable shirt while another did not.

All that said, it’s not a wholesale excuse. These are Marvel’s characters, the foundation of their company. As such, these products represent them, not the manufacturers. When people see this, and are (rightfully) bothered by it, they aren’t going to care what middle man made the shirts. They’re going to instantly direct their ire toward Marvel, as it it will look to them as if Marvel is telling boys they can be heroes, and telling girls that, if they’re lucky, a hero will come save them.

Marvel, and most licensors in general, need to play a larger role in what people are doing with their intellectual properties. Because on the surface, this is just one more superhero product that tells girls to find their heroes elsewhere, instead of being heroes themselves.

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