In a case of life imitating comics, attorneys for Marvel are trying to prove that Mutants aren’t humans after all.
The guys at the Radiolab Podcast uncovered this story recently, and it sounds like something ripped right out of an issue of The Uncanny X-Men. However, before you head out and enroll at Xavier’s Mutant Academy, understand that the whole Mutant vs. human debate in this story revolves around toys.
No, Marvel lawyers haven’t found real Mutants running around in the wild. The truth of the story is slightly more mundane. It turns out that toys manufactured overseas and imported to the US are taxed, but different kinds of toys are taxed in different ways for some reason. One of the distinctions is for “dolls” which are defined as things that represent humans, while toys are non-humans, like robots and animals. Human dolls are taxed at a much higher rate (12%) than “toys” (6.8%). So, Marvel, trying to save some money, is currently in court arguing that its line-up of Mutant action figures aren’t really humans and therefore should get the lower tax rate. Not quite as exciting as the thought of Wolverine and Storm taking on an army of Sentinels, eh?
While the legal wrangling has been going on for quite some time, it appears that the Marvel Superheroes RPG put this debate to bed ages ago. From the game’s wiki:
“Each character had an origin, which put ceilings on a character's abilities and superpowers. The origins included: Altered Humans (normal people who acquired powers, such as Spider-Man or the Fantastic Four), High-Tech Wonders (normal people whose powers come from devices, e.g., Iron Man), Mutants (persons born with superpowers, such as the X-Men), Robots (created beings such as the Vision and Ultron), and Aliens (a blanket term used to cover non-humans, including extra-dimensional beings such as Thor and Hercules).”
If we were on Marvel’s legal team, we’d be entering that entry into evidence posthaste, then high-fiving Stan Lee before we did a victory strut out of the court room. This is probably why none of us went to law school…