In China, Marvel Studios is having trouble securing a release date for Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings. Some of these issues stem from the character’s past and his associations with racist preconceptions about Chinese people in Western culture.
Other issues are linked to other planned Marvel Studios film productions as well as comments made by authors that the Chinese government does not approve of.
Shang-Chi originally emerged in 1973 and was created to take advantage of the burgeoning popularity of martial arts films in the United States. The early Shang-Chi comics were based on the genre’s worst clichés, and the artwork represented the protagonist as having dazzling yellow skin.
Thankfully, succeeding chapters improved the artwork and made the character less stereotyped. Despite this, many people still regard Shang-Chi as a symbol of American cultural abuse of China.
Some are suspicious of Marvel Studios’ claim that the Shang-Chi film was made with the utmost regard for Chinese culture. Many feel that the character’s origins contaminate him in such a way that no amount of rewriting can save him. This means that, even if their government authorizes the film to be distributed in China, Chinese audiences may avoid seeing it in the fall of 2021.
Why There’s A Backlash To Shang-Chi In China
Shang-Chi’s original biography, which portrayed him as the rebellious son of criminal mastermind Dr. Fu Manchu, is one of the main reasons Chinese viewers dislike him. Dr. Fu Manchu was introduced into Marvel Comics alongside Shang-Chi after the company acquired the rights to adapt the character from the Sax Rohmer estate.
He is easily the most infamous of the peril villains whose stories presented Asians as inhuman creatures predisposed to criminal activity. Except as a reference to how stereotyped the original Fu Manchu novels were, the character has essentially vanished from popular culture in the present era.
Due to prejudice and controversy, Marvel Comics has done a lot to redeem Shang-Chi and his troubled past, with a retcon making him the son of the sorcerer Zheng Zhu and the impending film replacing Shang-father.
Chi’s Despite this, the character has been chastised for being a stereotype, defined solely by his skill in martial arts, which is frequently shown as the default superpower of Asian characters in general and Chinese characters in particular. Another cliché trope often given to Chinese characters in Western literature that is considered offensive in modern China is that Shang-worst Chi’s opponent is his father.
Furthermore, utilizing the Mandarin instead of Zheng Zhu in Shang-Chi is seen as just as problematic as adopting Fu Manchu, considering the character’s racial origins and status as a yellow peril caricature.
Marvel’s Response To Shang-Chi’s China Backlash
Kevin Feige, the president of Marvel Studios, has attempted to address the anti-Shang-Chi response, but his effectiveness has been limited.
In an interview with Chinese film critic Raymond Zhou (via Variety), Feige reiterated that Fu Manchu was not in the film and that Marvel Comics had not used the character in decades.
Following the Iron Man 3 Mandarin villain surprise, Shang-father Chi’s in the film will be the genuine Mandarin (aka Wenwu), although the character will be significantly more sophisticated than the villain who was originally Iron Man’s archenemy in the comics.
Will Shang-Chi Be Released In China?
It’s unclear where the Chinese government stands on Shang-release Chi’s right now. The Chinese government is notoriously strict when it comes to foreign film censorship, and given the concerns raised about Shang-Chi as a character, it would be nearly impossible for Marvel Studios to address the country’s concerns by adding or removing additional scenes, as it has done in previous releases.
This might be a huge issue for Shang-Chi, given China is one of the world’s largest movie theatre markets, and the film is already having a tough theatrical release overseas due to rising COVID-19 rates around the world.
Its not only Shang-Chi
The challenges that Marvel Studios is having in China are not confined to the release of the Shang-Chi film. With its revealed trailer for its upcoming film, Eternals, the studio is also under fire, This is thanks to Chloi Zhai, who was born in China and has won an Oscar for her film Nomadland.
While Zhao’s success with Nomadland was initially a source of national pride for China, and her achievement as the first Asian woman director to win a Golden Globe for Best Director was celebrated, many Chinese nationalists questioned Zhao’s citizenship and devotion.
Zhao was born in Beijing, but she received her education in the United Kingdom and the United States, and she considers herself an American because she does not have a Chinese passport.
Zhao has been blacklisted by the Chinese government as a result of this, as well as critical comments made by the Chinese government in various interviews. News of Zhao’s success with Nomadland at the Oscars has been blocked on Weibo, China’s most popular social media site, and various government-sponsored new sites.
It’s unclear whether Marvel Studios will have trouble getting any of their future films released in China. While there is no reason to believe Spider-Man: No Way Home will be denied a theatrical distribution in China, it has yet to be awarded a release date and is set to follow Eternals and Shang-Chi and the Legends of the Ten Rings nearly immediately.
If Marvel Studios were to be entirely blacklisted by the Chinese government, it would be a big setback for the ailing company in the midst of an increasingly unpredictable market.