Marvel Studios announced it would take a "new approach" to Israeli superheroine Sabra in response to extensive criticism by anti-Israel activists following the announcement that the character would be introduced to the Marvel Cinematic Universe in the upcoming film Captain America: New World Order, played by Israeli actress Shira Haas.
“While our characters and stories are inspired by the comics, they are always freshly imagined for the screen and today’s audience, and the filmmakers are taking a new approach with the character Sabra who was first introduced in the comics over 40 years ago," Marvel told Variety on Friday.
The Institute for Middle East Understanding accused Marvel of "promoting Israel’s violence against Palestinians and enabling the continued oppression of millions of Palestinians living under Israel’s authoritarian military rule" by including the Israeli superheroine.
Sabra was created by Bill Mantlo and Sal Buscema and first appeared in the pages of The Incredible Hulk in 1981. The term Sabra refers to a native-born Israeli and a type of prickly fruit from the pear cactus which is found in Israel. Her alter-ego outside of super-heroics is Ruth Bat-Seraph.
In the comics, Sabra is a mutant like the X-Men. She possesses a variety of super-powers, including superhuman strength, speed, agility, stamina, reflexes, and endurance. She has been shown to be able to lift 50 tons and has fought the Hulk on multiple occasions. She also possesses the power to save people from death by transferring part of her own life-force to them, a process which weakens her and can give the recipient superpowers of their own until she takes the life-force back.
Sabra has been depicted as an Israeli patriot who worked for Israel's Mossad intelligence agency and security forces. Her six-year-old son was murdered in a terrorist bombing on his school bus.
Captain America: New World Order is scheduled to release in 2024.