“Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings” has been released in theaters in France but not yet in China, where its arrival on the screens is more than uncertain. But for what reason and what danger does this decision represent for the studios?
It all started on May 11, 2021, when the Chinese government channel CCTV6 has announced the release date for all Marvel Universe Phase 4 movies … except those of Shang-Chi and Eternals. Forgetting was not, and it was a political act of China, as we will see.
An inaccessible Chinese market
Shang-Chi has no release date in China for the moment, but this is not an isolated case since before him, Black Widow had finally been deprived of the theaters of the Middle Empire in July.
Indeed, to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the advent of its political regime on July 1, China has released since the reopening of cinemas patriotic films meeting success and occupying the main theaters.
American studios have therefore not been able to penetrate the Chinese market for several months now, no summer blockbuster having been able to obtain from the government the visa allowing its diffusion in theaters. The authorities were intractable and blocked American cinema, whose economic and generally Western values are hardly compatible with a commemoration of communism.
At the very end of the summer, however, China ended its systematic boycott of American films by authorizing the releases of Free Guy with Ryan Reynolds (Disney), Luca (Pixar) and The Tomorrow War (Amazon) and numbers are rather at the rendezvous. But for Marvel films, the situation remains complex.
Black widow attacking in particular the Soviet Union and Russia, a country that China considers to be its ally, we understand that the Marvel / Disney film has not yet received the approval allowing its distribution. Asked by SCMP, some major Chinese exhibitors admit not knowing when the film will be released due to sanitary conditions.
Shang-Chi has other problems
Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings suffered a “bad buzz” long before its release, with many Chinese commentators writing on social networks than “the film will only show stereotypes” where it is “a tasteless attempt to steal money from the Chinese public.”
The superhero is played by Canadian actor Simu Liu, his father played by Hong Kong-based Tony Leung, and director Destin Daniel Cretton is American, which does not help Chinese audiences.
Moreover, the most recurring criticism of Shang-Chi is that the character was created in the 1970s in order to surf a stereotype: that of the Asian martial arts enthusiast and conveying the worst clichés. In addition, in these comics, the hero’s father was none other than Fu Manchu.
The latter is today a very controversial character since he was anchored in the era of the Yellow Peril, this fantasy that the Asian world could represent a danger if it wanted to conquer the Earth. Producer Kevin Feige had to explain himself about Fu Manchu last August:
[C’est] a character that we do not have the rights to and that we do not want to own. (…) We never intended to [l’avoir] in this film.
Fu Manchu is therefore definitely not [présent], isn’t Shang-Chi’s father, and hasn’t been a Marvel character for decades.
Indeed, Fu Manchu has been left out of Marvel comics for years. but besides this comment, Feige also had to justify the plot of his film. Indeed, in the comics, Shang-Chi rejects his native country to become American, which is the exact opposite of what takes place in the feature film, since the superhero goes back to his roots:
“His escape [aux Etats-Unis] is presented as one of his mistakes. It is a mistake to flee to the West to hide your heritage and family – this is what our film presents. Our story is about how he will face and overcome this. “
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