If I were a conspiracy theorist, I might hold the belief that Marvel's hugely successful films were all simply a ploy intended to brainwash the public at large into buying a specific type of product, like, say, citrus fruits and their accompanying juices.

And now I'd have my smoking gun. The Ledger in Lakeland, Florida, reported last week negotiations are nearly finalized between Marvel and the Florida Department of Citrus to strike a $1 million deal to redesign the department's mascot, Captain Citrus, and include 2.5 million inserts in the upcoming Captain America: The Winter Soldier DVDs and Blu-rays. We are through the looking glass here, people.

The Ledger's three-page (!) report about the deal largely focuses on the citrus organization's budget and financial status -- it freed up funds for this deal by halting TV advertising -- but here are the important parts: Marvel will publish one million copies of a special Captain Citrus comic book that will be given to children at schools and summer camps for free. Also, "Captain Citrus will transform from a gender neutral character to a male superhero touting OJ's health and nutritional benefits."

I'm not sure why Captain Citrus had to be a dude, but growers say the superhero push is meant to get teens more excited about drinking orange juice. The Captain will be part of a public relations campaign that tries to steer public opinion away from OJ's growing reputation as a drink with too much sugar by touting its "amazing six" qualities: "flavor, vitamin C, potassium, folic acid, hesperidin and no added sugar."

This seems like an odd move for Marvel. Designing a mascot is generally the work of an advertising agency, not a comics publisher, but this may open the floodgates to other organizations and brands looking for a little Marvel magic. The whole thing may be good PR for Marvel -- by promoting healthy fruit the publisher may win some points with parents. Questions remain, though. For example; who in Marvel's talent pool is actually going to do the work? And what is Marvel going to do when the Dairy Association and Coca-Cola come calling?

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