Marvel’s Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings is the first Hollywood superhero film to feature a predominantly Asian cast, starring Simu Liu (劉思慕), Tony Leung (梁朝偉), Awkwafina (林家珍), Michelle Yeoh (楊紫瓊), and Fala Chen (陳法拉). Although Shang-Chi will be releasing in North America on September 3, the film may not release in China.
A recent broadcast of CCTV 6’s China Film Channel, which showcased upcoming American films to be released in theaters, did not include Shang-Chi. The other Marvel hero movie, Eternals, which is opening in November 5 in North America, was also left out of the announcement. As there are strict quotas over the number of new foreign films versus domestic films opening, this led to speculation that China has blocked the release of both Shang-Chi and Eternals in local theaters.
To appease the Chinese market, Marvel changed Tony Leung’s character from Mandarin to Wenwu, hoping to separate the character from its racial caricatures in the original comics. However, many Mainlanders still saw it as the same character. Furthermore, they disagreed with the casting of Simu Liu and Awkwafina, whom they felt were unattractive and represented the “stereotyped look” of Chinese people among Westerners.
As for Eternals, Chinese director Chloe Zhao (趙婷) was perceived to possess an anti-China view when she identified herself as an American and criticizing China for being “full of lies.” The director’s outspoken disapproval of China has even led to the banning of her other film, Nomadland. When Chloe Zhao became the first female Asian director to win the Academy Award, many of the major Chinese media outlets were oddly silent.
Though there have not been official announcements, early signs indicate that Shang-Chi and Eternals may not release in Chinese theaters, which would the first Marvel films to run into these roadblocks despite the box-office breaking records of the Avengers franchise and other superhero films.
This article is written by Huynh for JayneStars.com.