If you ask at least one Marvel executive why the company's sales took a dip in 2016, he has a simple explanation: Fans just aren't into female characters.
In an interview with the "geek culture" trade magazine ICv2, vice president of sales David Gabriel said Marvel's new female superheroes just didn't stand a chance against the franchise's iconic male counterparts.
According to Gabriel, the Marvel executive heard their decline in sales could be part of a broader problem in the industry, which is that "people didn't want any more diversity" — specifically with respect to female characters.
"We saw the sales of any character that was diverse, any character that was new, our female characters, anything that was not a core Marvel character, people were turning their nose up against," Gabriel told the outlet.
He added that the findings had been "difficult" for the company, since they'd been excited to try out new ideas like America Chavez, Marvel's Beyoncé-inspired queer Latina superhero, and Ironheart, the franchise's black female Iron Man.
Gabriel reached out to ICv2 after the interview, backpedaling a bit on his initial statements, emphasizing that Marvel isn't planning on abandoning its female superheroes:
Discussed candidly by some of the retailers at the summit, we heard that some were not happy with the false abandonment of the core Marvel heroes and, contrary to what some said about characters 'not working,' the sticking factor and popularity for a majority of these new titles and characters like Squirrel Girl, Ms. Marvel, The Mighty Thor, Spider-Gwen, Miles Morales and Moon Girl continue to prove that our fans and retailers ARE excited about these new heroes. And let me be clear, our new heroes are not going anywhere! We are proud and excited to keep introducing unique characters that reflect new voices and new experiences into the Marvel Universe and pair them with our iconic heroes.
He added that the company has indeed heard its share of positive feedback on its new diverse characters, which suggests that a few sulky misogynists may have skewed the sample.
"We have also been hearing from stores that welcome and champion our new characters and titles and want more!" Gabriel told ICv2. "They've invigorated their own customer base and helped them grow their stores because of it."