In a recent report released by China’s CCTV6 Movie Channel, only eight of the ten upcoming films from Marvel’s slate were confirmed to be coming to the country. The films that were notably missing from the list were Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings and Eternals.
For those who don’t know, the channel is an agency at the Chinese Government’s State Administration of Press, Publication, Radio, Film and Television, so not only are they one of the country’s most knowledgable sources about the entertainment industry there, they can influence what the citizens ultimately see. While the info past along on the channel isn’t final, because it operates under an office whose sole mission is to propagandize media it’s implied that the two titles have quite the uphill battle ahead of them.
Now, it’s no secret that China has pretty strict censorship policies. In fact, their ban of skulls from all media is probably one of the more widely known policies. Did you also know that no Chinese film or director can release a director’s cut either?
What’s most ironic about the omission of both of these films is that they’re Marvel’s most inclusive films to date. While Shang-Chi has an Asian director, primarily Asian cast and setting, Eternals was directed by the Chinese-born Chloé Zhao and stars Chinese actress Gemma Chan.
Given that Zhao had made some comments about China being “a place where there are lies everywhere” in a 2013 interview with Filmmaker Magazine that resurfaced earlier this year, it makes a little sense why the country would be so hesitant to enable her continued success. It notably backtracked its initial praise of the actress after the interview came to light and attempted to wipe its own web of any mention of her following her historic Oscar wins.
On the other hand, the possible grudge against Shang-Chi could just be by association. As Variety points out, in the original Shang-Chi comic books, his father is a man by the name of Fu Manchu. In addition to being an all around evil dude, he perpetrated some serious racial stereotypes over the years too.
Once again, nothing is final. There is still a chance that the heavily censored versions of the films could still be released. With one of the biggest and most important box offices in the world, it makes almost no sense to dismiss two guaranteed blockbusters, but perhaps that rigid attitude is exactly what has given it so much power in the industry in the first place. We’ll just have to see what happens.