Satirist, comedian, and talk show host John Oliver has never imposed any boundaries on who or what gets treated to his cutting wit on HBO’s Last Week Tonight, and the latest episode is no exception. While most of the episode deals with a much more serious issue, Oliver took the opportunity to take a swipe at the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
On this week’s episode, John Oliver tackles the ongoing issue of the spread of misinformation on the Internet as it relates to the COVID-19 vaccine. In particular, Oliver talks about how websites like Facebook and YouTube are stepping up their policing of the spread of misinformation on their platforms, but most efforts remain focused on English-speaking videos and messages. In one example, Oliver shows how a video –claiming Vice President Kamala Harris’ vaccination shot was faked — was flagged as promoting false information on Facebook, but the same video in Spanish wasn’t flagged.
John Oliver’s anti-Marvel quip comes when talking about the potential consequences of misinformation. He tells his viewers, “All it takes is a few superficial labels and style choices to convince people that something with no real substance is actually meaningful and good. Or as it’s known in America, the Marvel Cinematic Universe.” You can watch the video below.
This isn’t the first time John Oliver’s made a target out of Marvel either. Earlier this year in a short web exclusive clip, Oliver complained that there were no exciting new cereals on the market. As an example of perfect cereal advertising, he played a Frosted Flakes ad featuring a video conferencing call between the cartoon mascot Tony the Tiger and former pro basketball player Shaquille O’Neal. While listing the reasons for the ad’s supposed effectiveness, Oliver quipped that the commercial’s world-building delivers “a more richly detailed cinematic universe than what Marvel has made in 13 f—ing years!”
Of course, John Oliver’s anti-Marvel remarks are fairly benign compared to some that have come from other celebrities, even other HBO late night talk show hosts. Real Time‘s Bill Maher has practically made a second career out of trashing Marvel, including holding superhero movies responsible for the election of President Donald Trump. He also trashed the legacy of Marvel icon Stan Lee after the writer’s death and continued to double and triple down on his remarks in spite of the backlash.
Even though Stephen Colbert has had an interesting relationship with Marvel — including adding dialogue to the Avengers Assemble cartoon to have Marvel’s heroes clap back against critics like Martin Scorsese and Francis Ford Coppola — the host has gotten his own anti-Marvel jabs in as well, though they’re usually more lighthearted than those from John Oliver or Bill Maher. For example, in the wake of Iron Man 3 director Shane Black revealing in 2016 he wanted the movie’s villain to be a woman but Marvel ruled against it, on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert, the host called Marvel “kind of a sausage fest.”
To see if either John Oliver or Bill Maher have any more criticisms to hurl Marvel’s way, you can stream both of their shows on HBO Max. Meanwhile The Late Show with Stephen Colbert airs weeknights at 11:35 pm ET/PT.