This is a strange one. While fictional characters in the Marvel Universe — the heroes at least — typically argue a position that says mutants and humans are not really different, and should be afforded the same rights, in the real world the company’s position is somewhat contrary.
In the non-fictional world, our world, Marvel is taking the position that mutants are not humans at all. But this isn’t an ideological or a moral stance. Instead, it is a financial one. Toys manufactured in other countries and imported into the US are subject to taxes, but those taxes are lower if the toys represent non-human characters. That has led to Marvel lawyers arguing that an action figure representing, say, Wolverine, is actually “representing animals or other non-human creatures (for example, robots and monsters).” This argument leads to a good conversation on the questions of humanity and acceptance that have long been part of the X-Men storyline.
The great Radiolab podcast has a show that begins with two international trade lawyers who noticed an interesting distinction in taxation for categories of products being imported into the US. ‘Dolls,’ which are toys that represent humans, are taxed at 12%. ‘Toys,’ meanwhile, are, well, toys, but ones that don’t represent humans. Those are taxed at 6.8%. You can probably see where this is headed.
These two trade lawyers, as it turns out, had a big client when they noticed these tax rates: Marvel. So the pair went to customs and argued that Marvel’s licensed products are toys, not dolls. To do that, they argued that the figures do not represent human beings.