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An Icelandic reference causing problems for the Guardians of the Galaxy sequel

By Magnús Sveinn Helgason

  • Offensive little green men? Marvel legal team has adviced James Gunn not to include the Sneepers in his next movie, apparently out of fear of offending Icelanders. Photo from the Facebook page of James Gunn.

Understanding and speaking Icelandic seems to be an asset in Hollywood. James Gunn, the writer and director of Guardians of the Galaxy is working on a sequel of the hit sci-fi movie, filling the movie universe with background characters and alien races. Gunn explains on his Facebook page:

“While writing Guardians scripts I like to use the names of characters from the comics as much as possible - it makes watching the movie more fun for longtime Marvel fans (one of whom is me). Characters like Kraglin, The Broker, Bereet, and Garthan Saal all originally appeared in the comics, albeit sometimes in very different incarnations.”

Related: Reykjavík names a street after Darth Vader from Star Wars

Navigating the jungle of intellectual property rights 
In order to stay safe, not offend anyone or causing any problems, Marvel legal department checks, and double checks all words and names Gunn uses. The reasons are primarily legal, as the rights to many of the names are owned by competing companies.

“Every name I use I have to run through the Marvel legal department. Lately, in the service of building out the Marvel cosmic side of the universe, I've been trying to clear names of alien species we see in the background. It's always a bummer when I can't use a name, usually because Fox or Sony or Hasbro or whomever owns the rights.”

And avoiding insulting prude Icelanders
The latest request by Gunn to include an alien species, the Sneepers, in his sequel was turned down for a completely different reason. As Gunn explained on his Facebook page:

"Sneeper is a word for clitoris in Icelandic."

Related: Icelandic rated among the most difficult languages to learn for English speakers

This story has taken off on the internet, and the Daily Dot tells its readers it has checked and found this claim is true.

"Sneeper, sneepur, or snipur is known as an Icelandic word for clitoris. We can only thank Gunn for widening our linguistic horizons in such a unique fashion."

A deep breath before anyone faints due to this terrifyng obscenity having been uttered
We at Iceland Magazine are somewhat ambivalent in our attitude to this fascinating example of American politeness or political correctness. 

While it is true the pronunciation of Sneeper could possibly sound similar to the Icelandic word for clitoris, it is still sufficiently different not to be considered NSFW. Snípur is pronounced ˈstniːpʏr: Sneeper has a long e-sound, snípur a short, and snípur ends with a u-sound, while the name of the alien race ends with an e-sound. You need to be very determined to see sexual references in everything to hear a clitoris in Sneeper.

Moreover, snípur is by no stretch an offensive or crude word. We are convinced James Gunn and Marvel would be hard pressed to find a single Icelander who would be offended or shocked if a race of green aliens in a Hollywood movie were called “Sneepers”.


While writing Guardians scripts I like to use the names of characters from the comics as much as possible - it makes...

Posted by James Gunn on Friday, September 11, 2015


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