Friday, February 10, 2012

Are X-Men Human?

Bringing together two recent themes on the blog—the rights of non-humans and comic books—consider this: are X-Men human?

Marvel's lawyers are insisting that the mutants are not human. This is not a part of a plan to enslave them; it's merely a matter of international trade. Apparently U.S. law imposes a lower tax on the importation of toys if they represent non-humans than if they represent humans. So Marvel is trying to get an interpretation that X-Men toys such as Wolverine do not represent humans.

This of course puts Marvel's tax lawyers at odds with the moral push of its own comic books, which tend to argue that the mutant X-Men should have the same rights as non-mutants. Awkward.

But perhaps the most puzzling question is why the US taxes human and non-human toys differently. What's the possible justification for that?


  1. "This is not part of a plan to enslave them," I think you mean this is not part of a plan to enslve them YET.

    As for the justification, as the Planet Money podcast has discussed in the context of other importation taxes, the difference in taxes is directly related to the success of various companies in lobbying Congress to tax foreign made products that compete with USA made products. I assume that some maker of dolls was successful in getting a tax on foreign made dolls.

  2. You're probably right that that's the reason for the difference; but I don't think it's a justification.


Comments on posts older than 30 days are moderated because almost all of those comments are spam.