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How Marvel changed Avengers: Twilight to avoid comparisons to the January 6 attacks (even though it was written a year before)

Marvel writer Chip Zdarsky talks about plans for Avengers: Twilight and how it pre-saged the January 6 attacks

Avengers: Twilgiht #5 excerpt
Image credit: Daniel Acuña (Marvel Comics)

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The events of January 6, 2021 will live in our minds and in history books as one of the most tragic days in United States history. And a recent Marvel Comics series had a similiar scene with the Red Skull attacking the U.S. Capitol - with the U.S. President held at gunpoint - in a climactic scene that brings up many of the painful memories of the dramatic insurrection.

But as the writer of that comic tells Popverse, originally it was much closer - even though it was written a full year before January 6, 2021.

Avengers: Twilgiht #5 excerpt
Image credit: Daniel Acuña (Marvel Comics)

As Chip Zdarsky revealed to Popverse as part of a larger conversation, the original climax of the recently-concluded limited series Avengers: Twilight was "literally Nazis storming the capitol." Zdarsky had been working on the series since 2019, and tells us that he wrote that issue a full year before the January 6 attacks.

"So when January 6th rolled around, I'm watching it on TV from Canada and I was like, 'Oh my God, this is insane,'" the writer said. "And then my next thought was, 'Oh shit, this is what I wrote.'"

Zdarsky said that the thread of misinformation (and disinformation) is something he keyed into in the writing of the series back in 2019 and 2020. It was aided by research his wife does in her career developing curriculum to teach kids about spotting misinformation in their everyday lives.

"Because kids aren't really taught to interact with the internet. Parents just assume they know how to do it," says Zdarsky. "But they're just accepting whatever they see as just real. It's easier to hit the kids than it is parents and grandparents."

Zdarsky said that that subject "resonated then for me a lot", and through his research (and conversations with his wife) he found it "blood-curdling - how easily swayed and fooled people are by stuff."

Avengers: Twilgiht #5 excerpt
Image credit: Daniel Acuña (Marvel Comics)

But as the stark, real-life events of January 6 resonated, Zdarsky knew his fictional superhero story had to be changed.

"And so, I talked to Marvel, my editor, Tom Brevoort, and he's like, 'All right, we've still got some time, but the story is the story - you've got the story'," said the writer. "I said, yeah, I don't want to change that because even changing locations didn't make a lot of sense. Like, I don't want them storming the White House. That's not a good scene for the fight."

Zdarsky said that Marvel "massaged" some of the text to not evoke the January 6 attacks - and for him, he thought to protect him from misinformation that he based this comic on those real-life events.

"I think they were more worried about me looking like a hack. Like I was writing it after the fact, and people could say, 'Oh, so obvious," said the writer. "So I rewrote it a bit to make it not as direct, but to Marvel's credit, they were just, like, stay with this idea, stay with the idea of literal Nazis and the Red Skull storming the capital, soldiers being fed misinformation, all of that."

Zdarsky said he hasn't noticed anyone pick up on the prescient nature of Avengers: Twilight's climax - and frankly, he doesn't want to know.

"So, for all I know, I'm being torn apart by right-wing mobs. I don't really want to know. I'd like the work to speak for itself, but, rest assured, it was written before that," said the writer. "In a lot of interviews leading up to the book coming out, I kept stressing, 'This was written several years ago.' Because I knew this part was coming."

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Chris Arrant avatar
Chris Arrant: Chris Arrant is the Popverse's Editor-in-Chief. He has written about pop culture for USA Today, Life, Entertainment Weekly, Publisher's Weekly, Marvel, Newsarama, CBR, and more. He has acted as a judge for the Will Eisner Comic Industry Awards, the Harvey Awards, and the Stan Lee Awards. (He/him)
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