As anyone who’s taken ENGN 0090 – Management of Industrial and Nonprofit Organizations will remember, Marvel Comics faced a crucial business dilemma in the early 2000’s: was it better to focus on a few of their popular core superheroes, or attempt to create brand-new franchises from a number of their lesser known characters? With the benefit of hindsight and the massive popularity of spinoff franchises like The Avengers and Guardians of the Galaxy, we now know that Marvel took the latter of the two options. The once-struggling company has since been responsible for some of the biggest blockbusters of the past decade.
Why is this at all relevant to your life, you may be asking? For starters, it’ll help when you burst into section ten minutes late, having yet to read the case study or even open your ENGN 0090 textbook, only to raise your hand and comment brilliantly that you think Marvel should diversify its characters – and, while it may seem like a crazy idea, you have a feeling that Robert Downey Jr. might make a great Iron Man.
But, more importantly, it’s also relevant to the McDonald’s line of Justice League-themed promotional meals currently flooding the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region. Just as Marvel diversified, so has McDonald’s, following up their BatBurger and SuperBurger meals with a Green Lantern-themed “Potato ‘n Beef”‘ burger and The Flash-themed potato wedges. Clearly, neither of the two superheroes was good enough to warrant his own meal – McDonald’s has obviously learned from the disaster that was the Green Lantern movie. Sorry, DC. Better luck with Khal Drogo’s Aquaman.
The burger, dubbed the LanternBurger, is a standard cheeseburger with bacon, steak sauce, and the titular “potato” added. What, you may ask, is the “potato” aspect of the burger? Why, it’s a McDonald’s hashbrown!
Sounds nasty, right? Well, no. The LanternBurger isn’t horrible.
It treads a middle ground between the SuperBurger and the BatBurger (then again, a pile of garbage would taste better than the BatBurger). Some people might even like it – beef and potatoes do pair well together, after all. But it’s ultimately the logic behind the LanternBurger – or lack thereof – that’s really puzzling. Trust me, I love the guilty pleasure of a grease-soaked slab of fried potato purchased in the airport McDonald’s before a 7a.m. flight to Bali as much as the next person. However, I wonder which Mickey D’s executive decided that their next great culinary invention would be shoving a hashbrown inside a burger? There’s no artistry to it – and if there’s one thing the cuisine of the Golden Arches is known for, it’s artistry. Why? Is it a continuation of the promotion’s weird association of superheroes with potatoes/cheese? A business strategy to take advantage of fluctuations in world food prices – à la the McRib? A plot to begin conditioning customers for the day when McDonald’s will ascend to its final form and start serving 24-hour breakfast?
As for the Flash-themed potato wedges: I almost wish they’d been worse, because I really wanted to make a relevant joke about them exiting my body as quickly as they entered. In actuality, they were fine – nothing special, but tasty enough, although every single themed side dish so far has featured potatoes. Is it too much to ask that they mix it up with one of those tasty fruit-and-yogurt parfaits off the Dollar Menu? Those could be Flash–themed. It would sure make more sense than potato wedges. Why would the Flash ever eat potato wedges?
Strangely enough, the one thing that did make this meal stand out was the lack of special, themed drink – I had to settle for a Coke. Both the Superman and the Batman meals had their own special drinks, which begs the next question: where is the Wonder Woman-themed meal? Couldn’t she at least have gotten a themed drink? Might her meal still be yet to arrive in restaurants? Misogynistic implications aside, the absence of a Wonder Woman meal is concerning from a journalistic standpoint. Can the Hong Kong McDonald’s superhero-meal experience be complete without sampling all the characters’ meals? Would the Justice League be complete without Wonder Woman? Would the Avengers be complete without Thor? Would ENGN 0090 be complete without Professor Hazeltine?
The answer is no (although Thor is definitely going to die in Age of Ultron, no doubt about it).
Image via Liam Trotzuk ’16.