Today, Marvel releases the first Asian superhero in its cinematic world. However, while Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings are already in cinemas in the United States. Marvel’s most anticipated film in China…might not be released at all.
What happened: All foreign movies face censorship when entering the Chinese market, and Marvel has edited previous movies to comply with the rules there. But Shang-Chi, which Chinese authorities have blocked from appearing in theaters thus far, is facing backlash in China over a character in the comic books called Dr. Fu Manchu, Shang-Chi’s father and an embodiment of popular anti-Asian stereotypes.
- “Fu Manchu is not in this movie, is not Shang-Chi’s father, and again, is not even a Marvel character, and hasn’t been for decades,” Marvel Studios President Kevin Feige argued. Marvel replaced the character with Iron Man’s archenemy, the Mandarin.
Feige is frustrated because there is a lot of money on the table in China. Before the pandemic, China had the world’s second-largest film office, and Chinese moviegoers are huge Marvel fans: China accounted for 22% of ticket sales for Avengers: Endgame in 2019.
Bottom line: Shang-Chi isn’t the only upcoming Marvel film having trouble getting past the bouncer in China. Spider-Man: No Way Home and Eternals also don’t have Chinese release dates yet.