The New York Times ran a story this weekend identifying the twenty people Donald Trump most often turns to for advice. By talking to sources close to Trump and in the White House, the Times piece identifies the top twenty friends, colleagues, media personalities, and advisors that Trump turns for counsel and to "test ideas."
As Mr. Trump's White House advisers jostle for position, the president has turned to another group of advisers — from family, real estate, media, finance and politics, and all outside the White House gates — many of whom he consults at least once a week.
Amongst the notable names on Trump's top twenty list of advisors is reclusive Marvel CEO Ike Perlmutter, joining other esteemed individuals such as Newt Gingrich, Rupert Murdoch, and Chris Christie.
Mr. Perlmutter, the chief executive of Marvel Comics, who is so reclusive that there are few public photographs of him, has been informally advising Mr. Trump on veterans issues. The two men are old friends, and Mr. Perlmutter has been a presence at Mar-a-Lago.
Indeed, many fans of Marvel's superhero comics might be surprised to learn that the company's Chairman is a member of the Donald Trump presidential administration as an advisor on veterans affairs, though Bleeding Cool has long chronicled the pair's relationship. Perlmutter, who donated $1 million to a Trump campaign charity event designed to upstage the Republican primary debate, has been photographed at least three times since Trump took office, has ridden with the president on Air Force One, and famously attended a veterans affairs listening post to which actual veterans affairs groups were not invited. Ike's wife, Laura Perlmutter, donated $500,000 to Trump's campaign, and also served on his Inauguration committee. Last month, it was revealed that Perlmutter had donated an additional five million dollars to a pro-Trump super-pac in support of Trump's political agenda.
But in Marvel's current comic book super-mega-crossover event storyline, Secret Empire, it's revealed that reality manipulation by former Nazi villain The Red Skull has made it so Captain America has always been a secret member of Hydra, an organization heavily connected with Nazis in Marvel continuity, though recent retcons have aimed to distance the modern fascist group from the real-life evil organization. As Captain America and Hydra take control of the United States, the comic storyline could be viewed as an allegory for Trump's ascension to the Presidency, especially due to connections between Trump's campaign and white supremacist, or "alt-right," groups, as well as the support Trump's campaign received from real-life neo-Nazis during the election.
Writer Nick Spencer, a former politician, vocal critic of Trump, and supporter of Hillary Clinton on Twitter, denies that the story was written about Trump's rise, however, saying it was originally pitched in 2015. That being said, Spencer did say that he keeps the story's current relevance in mind, and he has stated that "the idea that 'the world is in a bad place, therefore stories should be escapism' remains an irresponsible, cowardly argument."
Whether or not Secret Empire contains messages critical of the President, the man at the top of Marvel who profits most from the company's success will, unbeknownst to many of its readers, continue to serve as one of Trump's most trusted confidants.