Monday 6 January 2020

Singapore in new Marvel series The Falcon And The Winter Soldier? Maybe, sort of, not really

Dear Marvel,

Madripoor? Really?

I’m not a big comic book nerd, but I’m a fan of your movies, even though I didn’t like Avengers: Endgame despite it becoming the biggest box-office hit ever. (I mean, time travel? That’s Legends Of Tomorrow territory.)

I know you’re coming out with a Disney+ miniseries later this year called The Falcon And The Winter Soldier, which is a follow-up to the movie I dislike so much.

Now I have another reason to hate-watch the new show.

Last month, someone tweeted a photo purportedly of a set in The Falcon And The Winter Soldier and caused a bit of a stir online.

Spotted on a wall in the photo is a symbol comprising a crescent, a star and a lion’s head that looks very familiar to Singaporeans.

The symbol has been identified as the flag of the fictional Pacific island nation of Madripoor.

It is a made-up country like Black Panther’s Wakanda, except it is in South-east Asia, not Africa, and has never been listed as a free-trade partner by the non-fictional US Department of Agriculture.

Also, nobody says: “Madripoor forever.”

You first introduced Madripoor in a 1985 issue of New Mutants (an off-shoot of the X-Men), describing it as a “haven of world-class pirates, crooks and assorted lesser scoundrels”.

Could Madripoor have been inspired by Singapore?

Well, we did have pirates in 1985 – music pirates. That was who I bought my pirated cassette from to listen to Tarzan Boy by Baltimora.

While Madripoor appeared in various Marvel comics over the decades, the Singapore connection only became blatant more recently with the 2012 Hawkeye comic series.

An isuue featured the Madripoor Pearl, a “luxury hotel” overlooking Madripoor Bay. It has a mall and casino, and looks a lot like our Marina Bay Sands, which overlooks Marina Bay and has a mall and casino.

You might as well have thrown in a Merlion statue while you were at it. (That’s a statue of a lion with a tail of a fish and not a fish with a tail of a lion in case you’re wondering.)

What makes it even more confusing is that Singapore also exists in the Marvel comic book universe.

Of course, it is possible that being the lawless place that it is, Madripoor stole the architectural design of Marina Bay Sands from Singapore for the Madripoor Pearl.

Who knows? There could also be a counterfeit Jewel in the Madripoor airport with a long queue for Shake Shack.

And now we have the Madripoor flag in The Falcon And The Winter Soldier set photo.

You know why the lion’s head looks so familiar to us?

Because that’s our lion’s head symbol, which represents Singapore!

How can you use our symbol as part of a flag of another country? Even a fictional one.

Our National Heritage Board website says: “Any Singaporean individual, organisation or company may use the Lion Head Symbol to identify with the country.”

Not: “Any Marvel individual, organisation or company may use the Lion Head Symbol to identify with the country Madripoor.”

Ironically, you have turned the symbol for the country where the fictional Crazy Rich Asians is set into an emblem of a fictional country with a name that has “poor” in it.

Even weirder, the “island” that the city-state of Madripoor is built on is revealed in the comics to be the head of a mega dragon the size of Japan.

So shouldn’t the flag of Madripoor have a dragon’s head instead of lion’s head?

But I know it’s probably too late for you to change it.

Just do me one favour – bring back Baby Yoda.

Oops, sorry. That’s a different Disney+ show.

- Published in The New Paper, 6 January 2020