This interesting AP article looks at the move to grab the low-hanging fruit of giving the cash-rich Middle East their own amusement parks, and the cultural difficulties therein.

Politically sensitive characters such as Captain America could be left at home. Prayer rooms will join the list of accommodations, and menus will likely feature falafel and humus alongside pizza and hot dogs.

The piece looks specifically at the efforts by DC and Marvel to get their characters in these parks:

Kevin Tsujihara, president of Warner Bros. home entertainment group, is convinced that Superman, Batman and other DC Comics characters licensed by Warner will be readily accepted by those who visit the park from the Middle East, Europe, Africa and Asia.

Even the bare-shouldered Wonder Woman shouldn’t raise too many eyebrows “unless we depicted her as a Muslim woman,” said Tsujihara, who is spearheading the Warner theme park in Abu Dhabi.

Even so, “we probably wouldn’t have her running around in costume around the park,” he said.

With plans to help build a $1 billion theme park in Abu Dhabi by 2011, Marvel Entertainment Inc. is downplaying Captain America, a World War II creation draped in the American flag, in favor of attractions based on popular characters such as Spider-Man, Fantastic Four and X-Men — none of whom carry the same political baggage.

“One of the things that’s nice about our characters is they’re either about individuals helping people or they’re about teams of people of different types, like mutants, that band together and solve problems,” Marvel chairman David Maisel said.

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  1. Hmmm… how do you market Wonder Woman to the Arab market? The easiest solution to her appearance is to cover more of her body. The mythology and symbolism… not too difficult. (Except in Turkey, perhaps, which has a difficult relationship with Greece.) The United Arab Emirates, while Arabic, are a bit more permissive socially than, say, Saudi Arabia.

    I wonder… will we see a Parc Isnogud?

  2. This is one potentially political cluster waiting to happen.

    *Will Porky Pig or Spider-Ham be allowed at such parks?

    *No Jewish superheroes — or just no reminders of what Jews created specific characters?

    *Thor? Heracles? Odin? The New Gods???

    :::shifty eyes:::

  3. “*No Jewish superheroes”

    I guess that would mean the return of HERBIE the Robot, replacing The Thing in the Fantastic Four.

  4. Allen beat me to a point I wanted to make. Perhaps we can downplay the origins of Superman or the Marvel stable until a generation takes them to heart, and THEN slip it in that Jews created these characters they’ve so taken to heart. To paraphrase Doug Rushkoff in his panel with Scott McCloud at the NYCC, comics may be one pill the Middle East may regret swallowing, as they may find themselves unable to properly assimilate the ideas to their preference.

  5. Why is Batman going to run down Marvin the Martian?

    There is nothing wrong with pigs, the issue is pork so I think Porky would be okay. As for characters like Captain America, I think political fears are less important than having a character that just plain doesn’t translate well.

    Lastly, for the people talking about the jewish creators; one word- Hollywood. I’m sure individuals with more extreme views on such topics know that there are some Jewish actors or writers or whatever, but they don’t care, the entertainment comes first. I don’t think the fact that the guy that created Superman was Jewish would be any different.

  6. Ian,

    Depending on the nation and cultural mores, pork-pig-swine is very much a negative. I confidently argue that Porky Pig or Spider-Ham are rendered persona non gratis in various Middle Eastern nations.

    Your attempt to offer an explanation regarding Jewish comic book issues is too half hearted. Is not Kitty Pryde a Jew? Will Marvel’s Sabra be seen walking around in a theme park in Syria? The Thing? Are we to see the Young Avenger, Wiccan, who is a homosexual, greeting families arriving at theme parks in Iran? Doc Samson? Sasquatch? DC’s Ragman? Political Correctness will not make such important issues disappear, Ian.

    Again, this is one potentially political cluster waiting to happen. I pray that Marvel and DC will hire Historians and Political Scientists/Strategists of the region for consultations, so that international cultural incidents are avoided.


  7. Oh the joys of comic. Your title made me laugh, trying to imagine the whole setup with an Arabic twist. I reckon as long as money can buy, things will never cease to amuse and surprise.

    Wonderwoman will be one happy chick in Abu Dhabi. Just think all the rich Sheiks she can snatch.

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