Today, the official Avengers video game Twitter account posted a short video featuring a monument of Captain America and said that the area around it had been “defaced.” It’s the kind of atrociously poor timing that, itself, deserves some kind of historical monument.
Right now, all across the nation, cities and states are making plans to pull down Confederate monuments. Some have been heavily graffitied by protesters, while others have tripped and fallen (how embarrassing) into nearby lakes. Protesters are targeting monuments as part of a widespread effort to cast unflattering light on America’s long history of violent racial injustice, and cities are responding. It makes sense to take down statues of Confederate generals and colonial figures like Christopher Columbus because they all played an outsized role in the subjugation of Black and indigenous people. On top of that, many of these monuments were constructed in the early 1900s and 1950s as a means of legitimizing white supremacy in the face of growing civil rights movements. The “grand” history Confederate monuments pay tribute to lasted all of five years. It’s about slavery.
That is why Marvel and Square Enix’s decision to market the upcoming Avengers video game with a solemn message dedicated to a fictional defaced statue comes across as, at the very least, painfully tone deaf. The tweet, posted earlier today and deleted this afternoon, featured a brief clip of high-tech drones designed by an in-game agency (but with blue and red lights evocative of real-world police) hovering around a statue of Captain America.
“Heroes Park once celebrated the Avengers, but has since been defaced,” said the tweet. “Despite the AIM drones that surveil the area, there are still people who believe and pay their respects to Captain America.”
It then implored users to download the short, looping clip as a video conference background.
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If we keep this within Avengers’ narrative confines, it’s not totally out of left field (though the video conference background thing would be weird in any context). The game’s story begins with a large-scale tragedy that the Avengers are ultimately blamed for, so it makes sense that folks have decided to hop off the Avengers’ bandwagon and light it on fire. But Avengers, like every other video game, exists in a world in which shit is currently very much going down, so this particular marketing angle isn’t a great look.
Many people reacted to the tweet when it was live. Most of them said either “uhhh” or “yikes.”
After deleting the tweet, the Avengers Twitter account posted an apology.
“We’ve heard your response to our recent post and agree that now was not the appropriate time to share this content from our game,” it reads. “We apologize for being insensitive.”
If any other video game social media managers out there were planning similarly pithy ads that vaguely gesture in the direction of real-world issues, hopefully their ideas are now crumbling to dust in the arms of an emotionally distant father figure. Or falling into a lake.