Graduation Year


Date of Submission


Document Type

Campus Only Senior Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts


International Relations

Reader 1

Jennifer Taw

Rights Information

© 2021 Jamie N Bitz


Marvel has become a global brand: from comic books to films, action figures, and theme parks, superheroes dominate the modern media world. As Marvel is an American product consumed by a global audience, this thesis explores how non-Americanness is portrayed throughout Marvel products, using six as particularly representative: Iron Man, the Avengers, Avengers: Age of Ultron, Guardians of the Galaxy, Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings, and The Falcon and the Winter Soldier. The thesis starts with an examination of the existing literature on the depiction of non-American foreignness throughout the Marvel comic books, the larger comic world, and the film industry. Next, a close examination of Iron Man and The Avengers uncovers the villainization and Otherization of non-Americanness, whether alien or terrestrial. The Avengers and Age of Ultron reveal the problematic theme that non-Americans can be saved from villainy by assimilation. An examination of Guardians of the Galaxy and Shang-Chi demonstrates how the films are centered in American contexts, avoiding true “foreign” identities. Lastly, an analysis of The Falcon and the Winter Soldier shows how Marvel products still conform to the aforementioned patterns, despite attempts to overcome them. Ultimately, the Marvel Cinematic Universe continues to emphasize American exceptionalism in part by minimizing and delegitimizing non-American people and places. Moreover, far from driving positive change with respect to representation of non-Americanness, the brand instead is trying to respond to global political sensitivity with half-measures.

This thesis is restricted to the Claremont Colleges current faculty, students, and staff.