Marvel Denied Its Own Canon For A Tax Break
The X-Men are humans. There's no debate about this. They're not aliens, monsters, or talking chupacabras. They're humans with a special genetic trait, like the cherry Coke of people. Only an absolutely clueless geek poser would argue otherwise. Like, um ... Marvel?
In 1993, international trade lawyers Sherry Singer and Indie Singh -- both employed by Marvel -- discovered a bizarre mutation in how federal import tax tariffs are applied. If a company wants to import "dolls" that represent humans, they have to pay a tax of 12%. If that company imports "toys" that represent nonhumans, however, they only have to pay a 6.8% tax. For an entity like Marvel, which licenses scads of action figures, that works out to a massive potential savings. Thus, they petitioned the government to reclassify all of their imported wares as nonhuman toys.
The ensuing legal battle went on for over half a decade, and saw Marvel and the U.S. government go through each character in the company's canon -- from Spider-Man to the Fantastic Four to, yes, the X-Men -- and write real legal briefs about their humanity (or lack thereof).
The figure of 'Kingpin' resembles a man in a suit carrying a staff. Nothing in the storyline indicates that Kingpin possesses superhuman powers. Yet, Kingpin is known to have exceedingly great strength (however 'naturally' achieved) and the figure itself has a large and stout body with a disproportionately small head and disproportionately large hands. Even though 'dolls' can be caricatures of human beings, the court is of the opinion that the freakishness of the figure's appearance coupled with the fabled 'Spider-Man' storyline to which it belongs does not warrant a finding that the figure represents a human being.
Marvel ComicsIn fairness, this isn't a look you see on a lot of people.
It took until 2003 for a judge to declare Marvel as the "winner." It wasn't a decision she made lightly. When describing how she reached her ruling, she explained that she based her verdict not just on the masses of legal papers that both sides had provided, but also a litany of action figures -- as well as close examinations under the clothing of said figures. No, really. That's not a joke.