One of the first highly public instances of “Ms. Marvel” trolling happened nearly a decade ago, courtesy of Stephen Colbert. “Ladies and gentlemen, America has lost another battle in the culture war, which is surprising because we’ve got all the guns,” he says. “This time the battlefield is comic books. And folks, that saddens me because I’m a fan.”
“This affront has taken me aback. A Muslim cannot be a superhero, for Pete’s sake! They’re on the no-fly list,” Colbert imperiously huffs. “. . . It’s even more upsetting when you consider the original Ms. Marvel. She was wholesome and all-American! Blonde! Family values! With two bulging chest muscles and clearly wearing her Sunday church panties! This is nothing more than Sharia creep, plain and simple.”
Since this rant was brought to us by “The Colbert Report,” Colbert’s hallowed satire of right-wing talk shows in which he parodied Bill O’Reilly and other Fox News windbags, the audience understood it to be a bit.
Nearly a decade later another group of self-important white guys are railing against Kamala Khan’s right to exist in the Marvel Universe. The difference is they’re not joking, even if some of them insist that they are.
The actors are as varied as their motivations, you see. Some engage in review bombing, as they did to Disney+’s “Ms. Marvel” hours after its debut, because it’s an easy way to kick what they see as the social justice warrior hornet’s nest. Others camp out on in Facebook groups that have been recycled to manufacture the illusion of inflated offense for their own entertainment.
“Obi-Wan Kenobi” star Moses Ingram was their most recent target, and her harassment and Disney’s response, including a video post from Ewan McGregor that defended her, was widely reported. Not long before Ingram made her “Obi-Wan” debut as Inquisitor Reva Sevander, bigots piled on to newcomer Leah Jeffries when Disney announced she’d been cast as the new Annabeth Chase in the upcoming Disney+ adaptation of “Percy Jackson and the Olympians.”
All of this is either directly or tangentially a decentralized web referred to as The Fandom Menace, a group of extremely online comic book and “Star Wars” zealots that coalesced around a shared dislike for Rian Johnson’s Lucasfilm sequel “Star Wars Episode VIII: The Last Jedi.”