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Fun Fact: Did You Know X-Men Are Not Human Beings Under U.S. Law?

In the X-Men universe, mutants have fought tirelessly to be treated as equals to their Homo sapien relatives, and to live their lives as they see fit. This debate has caused quite a rift between the species, and some have battled and died for their cause, but the fact that the X-Men and their brethren are not human has worked against them in this civil rights fight for years in fiction. Interesting enough, this is something even the current law in present-day America recognizes.

It’s now funny to watch the X-Men films and wonder if folks like Professor Xavier and Cyclops knew that actual United States law recognizes them as "non-humans." Funny enough, it all comes down to an actual court case, which was decided upon in January 2003, between Marvel Comics subsidiary Toy Biz and the U.S. government.

All of Marvel’s officially licensed action figures were made abroad, and then shipped back into the U.S. As such, import duty had to be paid on them. However, a distinction was made between "dolls" and "action figures." According to the litigation (via The United States Court of International Trade), "dolls" referred to figures resembling humans, while "action figures" are defined as non-humans. Because dolls had a higher tax than action figures, Toy Biz argued in court that their products, which included X-Men, Spider-Man and Fantastic Four figures, represented non-humans. The court ruled in their favor, which meant that the X-Men (and therefore mutants), whose action figures now legally represented non-humans, were consequently also declared non-humans by the U.S. government.

There was a 5.2% difference between the taxes placed on dolls (12%) and action figures (6.8%), so it was in Marvel’s best interest to argue the case. But where does the line end, exactly? If we’re getting technical, which the case clearly did, what about Spider-Man’s numerous adversaries? Venom is still technically human, considering his powers are derived from the symbiote that attaches to him. The same goes for characters like Doc Ock, Vulture and Green Goblin, all of whom wear technologically advanced suits. They’re still human underneath. If Iron Man had been a part of the packaging, could it be argued that it's just a suit if you can't see Tony Stark inside?

It’s also interesting to look at a character like Quicksilver, who straddles both the current movie verses of X-Men and The Avengers. While he’s considered a mutant in X-Men: Days of Future Past, we see him getting his abilities at the end of Captain America: The Winter Soldier through a variation of the super-soldier serum. If we consider the logic implemented on the X-Men action figures, does this also mean that Pietro and, therefore, anyone injected with this serum are no longer human?

Just something fun for comic book nerds to think about to pass the time...