• Loren Javier

Embiggening Marvel Culture Into Mainstream Culture


Photo: Marvel Comics

I was reading this morning about how Merriam-Webster, the oldest publisher of the American dictionary, announced that it has added the word "embiggen" to its dictionary. They announced this in a tweet featuring a gif of Ms. Marvel "embiggening."



Those who are not familiar with the character, Ms. Marvel is a Muslim Pakastani American teenager who has the power to make herself or any part of her body bigger. She ends up calling her powers "embiggening."


While the term has apparently existed since 1996, Ms. Marvel's usage is the most popular and prevalent usage in pop culture. So, for Merriam-Webster to acknowledge this in its tweet is just fantastic.

Up until now, the only words and phrases from Marvel's vernacular known to the general public were Spider-Man's "my Spidey senses are tingling" and Hulk's "Hulk Smash." Now we live in this world where people know what Mjolnir, vibranium and embiggening are.


Can I just say it's an amazing time to be a comic geek!


I had always imagined that Captain America and Iron Man would be introduced to the world, but I had no idea the impact that the Marvel universe would eventually have. With the success of Black Panther, you can't walk far without a reference to the film.


The fact that people know what Wakanda is now is just staggering to me.  And, its all over pop culture media.


For example, on Conan, Conan O'Brien told the audience that the 2020 Olympics will be held in Wakanda:


But, not everybody knows Wakanda isn't an actual place. On Jimmy Kimmel Live, people on the street were asked about what they think about the crisis in Wakanda:



On Saturday, Alec Baldwin, impersonating Donald Trump, made reference to Wakanda in the cold opening of Saturday Night Live:



But, despite the jokes about Wakanda, it has also become a symbol for people. A symbol of what Africa could have been if it was not robbed of its resources by colonialism. So, it always does my heart good when I hear people exclaim "Wakanda Forever" as a call of pride.


Even as recently as last night's Oscars, Chadwick Boseman, on the red carpet, crossed his arms together over his chest and exclaimed, "Wakanda Forever." To which he received uproarious cheers. (BTW, if you're ever wanting to exclaim "Wakanda Forever" in public, the correct way is right over left. I learned this from a member of the Dora Milaje. LOL)



So, the future seems bright for more Marvel to become part our daily lexicon. I look forward to see what the next words and phrases will capture our hearts and minds. 

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