The forthcoming Avengers movie, directed by Joss Whedon and expected May 4 from Walt Disney Pictures, depicts the Marvel superhero group teaming up to save the Earth from utter destruction.
Saving the world is ordinary fare for superheroes, especially teams like the Avengers and the X-Men. But one of the biggest battles ever fought in the Marvel universe took place in the real world, a historic fight that lasted 10 years and crossed America.
The clash ended quietly in 2003, with a monumental, six-figure legal ruling by the U.S. government: The X-Men and many other superheroes simply aren’t human.
Or more precisely, they’re not dolls, which, according to the U.S. Customs Bureau, represent “only human beings.” They’re toys, which represent “animals or non-human creatures.”
What’s the difference? Gazillions of dollars.
The U.S. government waded into the “mutant or mortal” battle 19 years ago at ports in Los Angeles and Seattle after Customs officials there classified several large shipments of action figures, including the X-Men, as “dolls” instead of “toys.”
But labeling the figures as “dolls” made importing the X-Men nearly twice as expensive as they would have been as “toys,” facing a 12 percent tax rather than a 6.8 percent tax.
High taxes make Hulk angry — and you wouldn’t like Hulk when he gets angry.