Hard to believe now, but there was a time when liking superheroes just meant you were a big ol’ nerd. These days, folks can’t get enough superheroes. Avengers: Endgame is the highest grossing movie of all time, and the rest of Marvel’s movies appear regularly throughout the list of history’s most successful films. And why shouldn’t they be? Lots of these movies are pretty good, with important lessons about power, responsibility, loyalty and perseverance. And they’re a lot of fun. Yes, pretty much everybody likes superheroes now. Everybody, that is, except Chechnyan authoritarian strongman Ramzan Kadryrov.
On November 16, Chechnya’s authoritarian strongman Kadyrov visited a children’s center in the country and was very upset to learn that pictures of superheroes like Captain America, Thor and Iron Man were being displayed. He was so upset, actually, that he has banned images of superheroes in children’s play places and schools. He called for replacing them with pictures of figures from the country’s history, such as his late father Akhmad Kadyrov.
“We need to remove the images of these fictional characters, these are fantasies,” Kadyrov said. “In the history of religion and people, there are many real heroes from whom you can and should take an example, otherwise children think that only these heroes exist.”
It’s a strange order from Kadryrov but hardly his most troubling. International human rights activists have called for global condemnation of Kadryrov’s actions, which are said to include torture, kidnapping and forced disappearances, and a call for reduced freedom for women and a campaign for mass detention of LGBTQ citizens.