Obesity Is Hurting Military Recruiting. Could Disney's Marvel Heroes Animate Demand?

Obesity Is Hurting Military Recruiting. Could Disney's Marvel Heroes Animate Demand?

Captain America, Iron Man and Captain Marvel are superheroes and role models to kids and adults alike despite being fictional characters. Could the Marvel superheroes also be used as a recruiting tool by the United States military?

What Happened: A new report from Disney fan blog Inside the Magic highlights the relationship between the United States military and Marvel, a unit of The Walt Disney Company DIS.

“Marvel Studios and Disney have a long history of collaboration with the United States government in exchange for military equipment, location access, and consultation. Approximately a quarter of the MCU’s movies have been through the Department of Defense’s approval process,” the blog said.

Several major characters in the Marvel Universe have shown connections to the U.S. military on screen, including Captain America, Iron Man, Captain Marvel, Nick Fury, Hulk and more.

The blog points to the U.S. military now seeking more help with recruitment through its relationship with Marvel Studios. Major Frank Martinez wrote an essay on the topic for the Air Force’s professional journal recently, titled “Reaching a New Audience: Strengthening the US Air Force through the Marvel Cinematic Universe.”

“While the US Air Force has provided support to many Marvel films, it must further capitalize on a favorable US film industry environment by providing direct funding, support, and experience to movies that prominently feature Air Force characters,” Martinez wrote.

The major points to the U.S. Air Force beginning its history with Hollywood films, dating back to “Wings” in 1927. The essay says the Air Force “has not taken full advantage” of the movie industry.

The Institute for Youth In Policy criticizes the partnership between Marvel and the military. The criticism includes pointing to Marvel Studios working with the U.S. military on the design of the Captain America character in exchange for being able to film at Camp Edward.

“The film also heavily promotes American patriotism and even included historically inaccurate portrayals of the United States military, such as having nonsegregated battalions, in order to make their image look better,” the site says.

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Why It’s Important: Martinez’s essay highlights the Marvel Cinematic Universe relationship creating a favorable public opinion of the US Military.

An NBC News study highlights every branch of the military struggling with 2022 recruiting goals. The report also points to the U.S. Air Force working to bring more women and people of color into the branch. Marvel’s increased diversity was highlighted by Marshall in his essay.

“Marvel films are effective vehicles for reaching underrepresented groups because they continually draw diverse audiences regardless of the movie,” Martinez wrote.

Martinez points to the upcoming “Captain America: New World Order” starring the Sam Wilson character in 2024 as part of this diversity.

Disney’s Captain Marvel movie showing a female Air Force pilot led to a spike in female applicants for the military branch.

The call to action from Martinez is for the U.S. military to run ad campaigns that coincide with the theatrical releases of upcoming Marvel movies, offer assistance to Marvel to better the relationship, use Sam Wilson (Falcon, Captain America) to promote special operations careers, and to propose an original movie to Marvel Studios with the creation of more military backgrounds for characters.

The public call by Martinez could have a negative effect, as it points to the working relationship between the U.S. Military and Marvel Studios. The public may take more notice of the military portrayal and subsequent marketing efforts in military recruitment going forward.

Photo: Created with an image from David Brat on flickr

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