A Big Marvel Hero Almost Debuted In 2012’s The Avengers


These days, fans have come to expect post-credits scenes from their big budget blockbusters, even if one hasn’t been explicitly promised. While the Marvel Cinematic Universe definitely didn’t start the trend, they certainly popularized it when Samuel L. Jackson first showed up as Nicky Fury after Iron Man had faded to black, with audiences now conditioned into refusing to leave their seats until the lights come up.

These brief scenes have generally been used as a hint of what’s to come in the future, although the famous shawarma scene in The Avengers was put in purely for laughs and was shot after the movie had already premiered. However, it turns out that Marvel Studios almost filmed another post-credits scene for Phase One’s all-star movie, one that would have been exclusive to Chinese audiences.

In recent years, Hollywood blockbusters making direct plays to the world’s fastest-growing market for cinema has only become more apparent and obvious, as the studios do everything in their power to ensure that their biggest movies not only make it past the country’s strict censors, but also feature characters, locations or sequences that appeal directly to the nation’s cinema-goers.

Iron Man 3 infamously had several scenes added specifically for the Chinese release, and now a new book from the former head of China-based production company DMG Entertainment reveals that The Avengers almost featured a post-credits scene shot entirely to appeal to Chinese audiences that would have teased Shang-Chi and The Mandarin for a future MCU movie.

“The development team in Beijing felt Shang-Chi was the safer role to promote since he was a ‘good guy’ and a hero, while The Mandarin was clearly a nemesis to Iron Man. Strictly thinking about how the ‘Ministry of Propaganda’, which reports directly to the Politburo, would view it, you always wanted the Chinese character to be a good guy or a hero, not a villain.  A Marvel antagonist like The Mandarin was risky. It posed a high-stakes gamble, not just for us, but also for Disney and Marvel. If it backfired, it could prohibit a release of the film in China. Even worse, it could prevent both studios from gaining any traction in China for other films coming later. Worst case, a temporary blackballing. For us, the wrong use of a character like The Mandarin could shut DMG down forever.”

The studio might have panicked at the idea of offending China by using the characters as part of The Avengers, but Shang-Chi and the real Mandarin will finally make their official MCU debuts next year when Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings arrives in May.