MARVEL’S latest episode of its ‘What If…?’ animated superhero series has reignited a firestorm in Spain over its portrayal of Spanish conquistadors as cruel, bloodthirsty, and greedy.
With each episode set in a hypothetical, counter-factual reality, episode six deals with a story in which a Native American superheroine seeks to use a magical object to defeat the Spanish conquistadors in the 16th century
The episode has drawn outrage among Spanish fans for its negative portrayal of their explorers and their interactions with Native American tribes.
Viewers pointed out that the Spanish never reached the northern territories depicted in the show, historically inhabited by the Mohawk Nation and other European settlers.
This controversy has reignited the age-old debate about the Spanish Black Legend, a 16th-century ideology that supposedly spreads anti-Spanish propaganda and anti-Catholic sentiment.
On the other hand, the competing ‘Pink Legend’ attempts to downplay the violence of Spanish colonialism in the Americas.
This enduring debate often resurfaces from time to time in media representations and public discussions.
Spanish author Javier Rubio Donze, known for his book ‘Spain Against its Black Legend’, has been vocal on social media about negative coverage of his country’s history.
Donze attacked the portrayal of Queen Isabela, arguing that it contradicts historical records of her as a defender of indigenous peoples’ rights.
He cites a quote attributed to the queen, urging fair and just treatment of the indigenous population: “Do not consent or allow that the Indians receive any harm in their persons and their goods, but command that they be well and justly treated.”
Donze also pointed out that the indigenous characters in the Marvel episode resemble North American Algonquian tribes (like those depicted in the story of Pocahontas) who primarily interacted with English colonists, not Spaniards.
Whereas the Spanish dealt with the Taíno people of La Española.
Yet despite the uproar in Spain, the reaction in the lands depicted – South America – has been quite the opposite.
“The Spaniards within 2 hours: no guys but we never invaded Latin America, they were taught badly,” wrote one Marvel fan from Argentina. “We never left our country!!!”
“It is not Marvel’s fault that they do not teach you well the history of the conquest of America,” wrote another.
Another user was more direct: “You cannot be so stupid as to deny genocide by the Spanish in Latin America.
“Did they come here with flowers? Don’t act stupid.”