Marvel faces backlash for reviving anti-Palestinian Israeli superhero Sabra in upcoming Captain America film

Marvel faces backlash for reviving anti-Palestinian Israeli superhero Sabra in upcoming Captain America film

The character's name is a brutal reminder of the Sabra and Shatila massacre of 1982, which left hundreds of Muslims dead.
14 Sep, 2022

Marvel has ignited anger around the world after announcing that it is bringing back Israeli superhero Sabra, a racist, anti-Palestine character first introduced in 1980s Hulk comics.

On Sunday, it was announced at the D23 Expo that the upcoming Marvel film Captain America: New World Order will feature Sabra’s Marvel Cinematic Universe debut. Israeli actor Shira Haas has been chosen to play the character. Netizens are not okay with this development and they are not holding back when it comes to voicing out how disturbed they feel.

There are several reasons why reintroducing Sabra is not only offensive, but also cruel and tone-deaf.

The Sabra and Shatila massacre of 1982

The very name is a reminder of the brutal Sabra and Shatila massacre of 1982. According to Arab News, Israelis blocked exits as Lebanese Christian militiamen entered Beirut’s Sabra neighbourhood and embarked on a 36-hour massacre of Muslim men, women and children that left hundreds dead.

Though some Twitter users argued that the character was named Sabra before the massacre occurred, others countered that by saying the name could have been changed since it is now a reminder of a painful history. Plus, the character is being introduced into the cinematic universe over four decades after it was created, there could have been an evolved approach that didn’t so outrightly take a political stance.

Her superpowers are violent tendencies directed towards Palestinians

If representation for the Jewish is what Marvel was aiming for, there are plenty of other Jewish characters in the Marvel universe.

Her entire persona is anti-Palestinian and that is problematic. She is not only part of the Israeli police force, she also works for security agency Mossad. Additionally, her superpowers are portrayed as a device to hurt Palestinians/Arabs in particular, whose humanity she has trouble accepting.

The Ms Marvel vs Sabra debate

Netizens only recently celebrated Marvel for introducing a Muslim lead in Ms Marvel but now, according to them, they seem to be backtracking.

A pro-Israel account used Ms Marvel as a point to defend Sabra’s inclusion in the MCU. In fact, several others have also compared the two and talked about representation but the fact of the matter is, the former show is about a Pakistani-American girl and her teenage struggles, along with finding out more about her family history. There are no anti-community sentiments, no powers directed at a particular group and no offensive names that remind others of the murder of their ancestors.

Ms Marvel isn’t a Mossad agent (or an agent for any agency, to be clear) nor has she advocated for a genocidal regime.

Marvel fandom depletion

Netizens have pointed out that Marvel is very clearly picking sides.

Fans have threatened to walk out on Marvel if they go through with Sabra’s introduction in the upcoming movie, refusing to let the insensitive attitude slide.

Marvel as an entertainment franchise is well-known globally. Any individual has the right to believe whatever they want but for the company to belittle someone’s painful history, taking a stance on the side of the aggressor is sad to see. The Israel-Palestine issue is a long-standing one and to stir it for entertainment purposes is simply cruel and unacceptable.