As the most commercially successful franchise of all-time, it’s not a shock that the Marvel Cinematic Universe is massively popular in China, the world’s fastest-growing market for cinema. The last thirteen installments in the series have each earned in excess of $100 million in the nation, even if there’s no sign yet of Black Widow, Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings or Eternals making it past the censorship board.
However, the numbers have more than proven that Chinese audiences are mad for The Avengers above all else. Joss Whedon’s opening team-up may have brought in a relatively meager $86 million from local theaters, but fast forward just seven years and the Russo brothers’ Endgame topped out with just a shade under $630 million. Unfortunately, the Hong Kong protests may end up with Earth’s Mightiest Heroes being banned altogether.
A new national security law has given Hong Kong’s chief secretary the ability to revoke and ban any movie of their choosing, as well as the ability to implement a $128,000 fine on anyone caught screening an unlicensed title. Widely-circulated memes have used scenes and characters from Avengers: Endgame to capture the mood of the protests, many of which depict Chinese Communist Party leader Xi Jinping as Thanos.
If the MCU blockbusters and other so-called ‘anti-establishment’ movies are deemed to be inspiring pro-democracy supporters in any way, then the current regime is more than likely to simply ban them in the country, according to former Democratic Party member Ted Hui. It’s a sticky political situation, but the censorship and possible banning of The Avengers is a twist that nobody could have predicted.