A new report claims that the upcoming Marvel Studios films Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings and Eternals might be banned from China.
This new report comes from Variety after CCTV6 China Movie Channel omitted both Eternals and Shang-Chi from an upcoming list of the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s Phase Four films.
Variety’s Rebecca Davis reports CCTV6 China Movie Channel aired release dates for eight of the next ten Marvel Studios’ films, but did not include Shang-Chi and Eternals, which are expected to hit theaters following Black Widow on September 3rd and November 5th.
Davis explains why the omission of these two films could mean they might be banned from China, “The omission might seem small, but its significance lies in its provenance: the channel is under the jurisdiction of China’s powerful propaganda department, which has the final word on film approvals.”
As for why Shang-Chi and Eternals might be banned from China, Davis cites director Chloe Zhao as the main reason for Eternals.
As reported by The New York Times, Zhao saw her Oscar win for Nomadland censored in China by the communist-run government. The censorship came after Zhao’s comments about China from 2013 resurfaced where she described the country as a place “where there are lies everywhere.”
More recently, Zhao was also reported to having said that the United States “is now my country, ultimately.” However, the Australian website would later publish an Editor’s note claiming it was a typo and that Zhao actually said “not my country.”
As for Shang-Chi, one of the issues is the use of the Mandarin.
As noted by Davis, the Communist Youth League paper China Youth Daily claimed in 2019, “Although ‘the Mandarin’ is not the same person as Fu Manchu, it still is under the shadow of ‘Fu Manchu.'”
They added, “Even just the announcement of the characters has caused huge controversy in China. Marvel wants ‘Shang-Chi to earn money from global audiences… [but] faces a big challenge. The film itself will decide whether it will end in tears or laughter.”
Davis also cited a Weibo user who stated, “So you change the name and it’s not Fu Manchu anymore? The Mandarin is inherently a character that blackens the image of the Chinese people.”
The user added, “I hope China Film and the [censorship authorities] won’t be bought out by this; this kind of film is not worthy of coming to China to make money off us while calling us fools.”
In the comics, Fu-Manchu is Shang-Chi’s father, but he has been replaced by a character who uses the title of the Mandarin in the upcoming film.
Producer Jonathan Scwhartz explained back in April that the film’s main villain is Shang-Chi’s father played by Tony Leung. However, his name is Wenwu.
Schwartz stated that Wenwu is “is a new character, created entirely for the Marvel Cinematic Universe.” Nevertheless, he also detailed that the character “has gone by many names” with one of those names being the Mandarin.
While Schwartz might be claiming Wenwu is a new character, Entertainment Weekly’s description of the character says he’s “a powerful, ancient figure who trained his son to follow in his criminal footsteps.”
That’s a description of Fu-Manchu from the comics if there ever was one. So, they might have changed the character’s name, but it seems Wenwu is taking on the same role as Fu-Manchu.
Others claim the film is racist due to the casting of Awkwafina and Simu Liu. One user wrote, “Foreigners just love to deliberately cast Asian actors with squinty eyes! There are many actors in China and Asia with big eyes and prominent features.”
In fact, Davis claims one user says that Marvel Studios “discriminates against Chinese people’s appearances.”
Some users feel the movie is simply being made to pander to Chinese audiences. One wrote, “These are characters created solely for the purpose of getting a slice of the big cake that is China’s enormous box office – there is no soul in them at all! The hodgepodge of Asian elements in the movie are unintelligible.”
One person compared the movie to the live-action Mulan, which bombed at the Chinese box office. They wrote, “It feels like this will be on the same level as the live-action version of ‘Mulan.'”
What do you make of this report that both Eternals and Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings might be banned from China?