The Marvel Cinematic Universe has been a stronghold in cinemas across the world. They’ve also been a mainstay with China, one of the largest growing film markets globally. Its growth has been giving Hollywood quite a bit of competition. At one point, they even tried to strengthen their ties with China by filming exclusive sequences for Iron Man 3. There were even rumors that they’ve adapted specific aspects of their films to appease China’s very strict regulations for allowing Western film releases. It looks like they might be facing some troubles with their upcoming releases, as CCTV6 China Movie Chanel released their list of upcoming releases. They showcased eight of the ten available titles with Eternals and Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings noticeably absent.
Why does it matter? Well, the channel is part of China’s propaganda department. They have the final word on what Western releases make it into the country. If these films do not receive governmental approval or pass censorship, they will not be released in any capacity. For now, it doesn’t imply that the films won’t be released but that there are some aspects that may have caught the Chinese official’s attention.
It’s also curious that both have strong connections to the country. Shang-Chi will feature Simu Liu as Marvel Studios’ first Asian superhero, who was born in China. Tony Leung and Michelle Yeoh are also well-known in the country. The issue the film may face is the character’s ties to the racist caricature Fu Manchu in the comics. Chinese politicians have slammed the film for simply replacing the character with another harmful stereotype. The film has also seen some harsh criticism towards Simu Liu and Awkwafina’s appearances not matching the ideal Chinese beauty standard. Mulan’s reception has also been a cause for concern after it received backlash for its portrayal of Eastern culture.
Then there is Eternals‘ director Chloé Zhao, who just recently won an Oscar for Nomadland. She also was born in China and has strong ties to the country. According to Variety, there has been some backlash surrounding the director, as her name and achievements were wiped from the Chinese web. It is still uncertain why they decided to blacklist her after the praise for winning the Golden Globes. As of now, we will have to wait and see if any new developments might give them a chance to release them in the booming market. Currently, it doesn’t look like their chances are good.