Iron Man calls out Marvel for its reliance on Star Wars references

Should Marvel really be referencing current pop culture the way Star Wars is? Tony Stark certainly doesn't think so, but the truth is much more complicated.

Contains Spoilers for The Invincible Iron Man #1!

Marvel Comics has never been shy about using Star Wars references, and a new Iron Man comic has now commented on that exact fact. Tony Stark wants his work to stand on its own and endure, and his observation says a lot about how people should think about contemporary references in stories.

Marvel likes to refer to Star Wars. Famous examples include Captain Marvel's cat named Chewie after Star Wars' Chewbacca, and the MCU's trend of Phase 2 movies paying homage to The Empire Strikes Back by including a severed arm in every movie. The latest issue of Man of Steel features Tony Stark's account of his plans to write a theoretical autobiography of his origin and current mysterious attacks on him, as Tony's comments on the use of Star Wars references amply illustrate. How Marvel Comics approaches pop culture like Star Wars.

Are Too Many Pop Culture References A Problem? (Maybe)

Tony has a point here. To a certain extent, inserting contemporary references into a story detracts from the experience of reading that story. Current jokes and trends are not expected to last forever. However, in the current media ecosystem, it is almost impossible for anyone to read Marvel Comics and don't understand Star Wars, at least through cultural infiltration. Like the Marvel stories themselves, the Star Wars franchise has reached a point where it's inescapable in the public domain, something Disney, the owner of both franchises, has achieved. By design, Tony's reference is unlikely to be out of date at this point.

Should Marvel reduce references to Star Wars? Tony Stark would definitely say that. From a somewhat cynical perspective, these references are just cross-promotion of other Disney properties, and if writers value timelessness, then they should think carefully about their use of references. Iron Man may be against them, but as long as readers don't complain, Marvel's Star Wars references never seem to stop anytime soon. Whether this is a good thing or a bad thing is in the eye of the beholder.

Next post: Star Wars develops best female villain ever in 2022

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