So, Donald Trump is most likely canon in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
According to the latest episode of Hulu's Runaways, Hillary Clinton ran for president of the United States and lost so horribly that it fills young liberals with "unspeakable sadness." And because everything in the MCU exists in the same universe, we can assume that the election is applicable throughout.
In Episode 4, Gert (Ariela Barer) is walking across her high school campus when she's ambushed by three students. In the pilot, Gert was hoping to start a club called "Undermining the Patriarchy" but got a bit sidetracked by the whole "my parents might be a part of an evil supervillain organization" thing.
The three are ready to begin the club, complete with a uniform. They tweaked a few things on their "I'm With Her" shirts to read "I'm With Gert" so that, according to one of them, "the shirt no longer fills me with unspeakable sadness."
It's a quick gag, but it begs so many questions. So is Hillary Clinton canon in the MCU? Who did she lose the election to? Was it Donald Trump? Was it somebody worse?
"I figured because it's Marvel we can do something where Hillary Clinton went up against a literal evil Cheeto because superpowers and we can do what we want with supervillains," Barer joked with SYFY WIRE by phone.
The MCU has always been coy with its real-world parallels, especially when it comes to current events, politics, and other major news focal points, like the events of September 11. It's subtly been building up its own political history, with its own presidents, controversial legislation, and landmark, big-scale disasters such as the Battle of New York, but sometimes there's a line that suggests it's closer to our world than we thought.
Luke Cage, for example, makes multiple references to President Barack Obama, despite both Iron Man Three and Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. establishing that the serving president is actually Matthew Ellis (played by William Sadler and notably fictional). Obama is name-dropped in songs sung in Cottonmouth's club but is also directly referenced in dialogue. TV journalist Thembi Wallace (Tijuana Ricks) tells Marian Dillard (Alfre Woodard), “Remember when Obama sang Al Green?” as a way to convince her to loosen up during an interview.
So what happened? A common theory among MCU fans is that Obama was president for only one term, from 2008-2012, since Press Secretary Jay Carney can be seen giving a statement in Avengers. However, he wasn't re-elected following the Chitauri Invasion. Ellis mentions in Iron Man Three that he was elected on a single-issue platform of protecting the world from alien or superpowered threats. "You elected me on a single platform: I will protect this country at all costs," he says. This puts him directly in the way of the Mandarin, and he gets taken hostage. He also is noted for creating the Advanced Threat Containment Unit (ATCU) on S.H.I.E.L.D., which dealt with Inhuman threats.
Now that we're living in a post-2016 world in and out of the MCU, there might be changes on the horizon. The first evidence of this is in Runaways, with the aforementioned Clinton reference. It's possible that she ran against Ellis, who might have been going in for a second term, and lost, but why would her loss have been so devastating to the students? They could be reeling from losing out on a potential woman in the White House, but the gag is there for the audience, evoking feelings of living in a post-Trump world. It's specifically there to refer to Gert's liberal, feminist politics.
Did Ellis get elected to another term and just screw up? Was Trump actually elected in this universe, and is he still going around planning on building walls and banning travel from certain countries? Is it possible that Ellis is doing that, but for Inhumans or other enhanced individuals?
For Barer at least, it refers to Trump.
"Our president is our president in this universe," she said. "In my brain that's what exists."
The MCU could be moving ever closer to our reality. The Punisher, in a quick line, also reveals that September 11 occurred in the MCU (which means that New York had not one but two major city-destroying events in just over a decade).
We could also just be overthinking things, especially since the Marvel TV shows seem to be moving further from the canon established in the films. Runaways, as of the time of this writing, has not made any references to past events, so who knows if it's even a part of the established MCU timeline?
Either way, Hillary Clinton exists in the same world as superheroes, so let that sink in.