A startling photograph of Donald Trump, the Egyptian president and Saudi king placing their hands on a glowing orb at a summit in Riyadh has prompted comparisons between the US president and villains from comic books and film. Trump, King Salman bin Abdulaziz and Abdel Fatah were pictured standing with their hands on the miniature globe at the opening event for the new Global Centre for Combating Extremist Ideology on Sunday. The US president is in the Gulf kingdom on his first state tour.
The complex is billed as Saudi Arabia’s headquarters for countering extremists’ messaging, with more than 200 data analysts working to monitor and analyse their online activity in real time. Local media reported that the leaders’ placing their hands on the globe “officially activated the centre and launched a splashy welcome video”. But, in an ironic twist, the image of the inauguration swiftly drew comparisons to Hydra, the villainous organisation bent on world domination of the Marvel universe.
This is not the first time comparisons have been drawn between the Trump administration and Hydra. The Hollywood Reporter reported that, since April, . com has inexplicably redirected to the president’s profile page on the White House website.
As #orb trended on Twitter there were various discussions on it being a force for good or evil. Allison DeJong shared a selection of cards from the immensely popular trading card game, Magic: The Gathering: the “Chaos orb” “Mesmeric orb” and “Zuran orb” (“Sacrifice a land: You gain 2 life”). “There are many kinds of #orb, are we sure we know which one we’re dealing with here,” she tweeted, to the response of “NEERRRRRRRRRD!” Another Twitter user drew a parallel to a Star Trek episode first broadcast in 1968, in which Captain Kirk’s body is controlled by telepathic aliens stored in metal orbs.
Even Breitbart News seemed to convey disbelief at the image, sharing it on Twitter alongside a still of George Lucas’ response to criticism of his Star Wars prequel, The Phantom Menace: “I may have gone too far in a few places. ” Others were more optimistic. Even the Church of Satan felt obliged to disassociate itself from the moment: Saudi Arabia was the first stop on Trump’s first foreign tour as US president, which will take in Israel, the Palestinian territories, Italy and Belgium.