The Chinese box office has rebounded a lot faster and much stronger during the pandemic era than domestic business, but the market has still been slow to reintegrate Hollywood blockbusters into the mix. Fast & Furious 9 and Godzilla vs. Kong may have combined to earn almost $400 million in China alone, but the only American films released since June have been Peter Rabbit 2: The Runaway and Pixar’s Luca.
On paper, the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings has all the ingredients to be a major success in the country, but the local response has been somewhat mixed. The first trailer drew negative reactions for being a Western production populated largely by actors raised in the United States and Canada. While many people remain unaware that Tony Leung’s Mandarin isn’t reflective of his outdated and stereotypical comic book counterpart, the damage has been done, further harming the movie’s relationship with Chinese audiences.
In a new interview, Kevin Feige addressed the criticisms of Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings coming from China, and sought to outline how the MCU’s landmark 25th installment will appeal to audiences the world over.
“That is one of the truths about the early comic books, that Fu Manchu was a part of that story in the early comics. Fu Manchu is not a Marvel character. Fu Manchu is not a character we own or would ever want to own and that was changed in the comics many, many years ago and we never had any intention of doing that in this movie. Fu Manchu is not in this movie in any way, shape, or form. I think it’s important for people to know that and understand that and when they see the movie, that will certainly be the proof, but that is such an offensive figure and was never anything we had any interest in doing.”
Feige went on to add that Marvel wants “heroes that look like all of our fans around the world,” and “heroes our fans can look up to and feel that wish-fulfillment to want to be a part of.” For him and Marvel Studios, it’s “about inviting people into our world,” not discrimination or segregation.
“Shang-Chi’s father is a new character created for this movie, whose name is Wenwu and the most exciting thing about it is he’s played by one of the greatest actors in the world, Tony Leung.
And that’s what really sets it apart from any of the characters from any of our other movies is that this is a very unique character that you can almost not even call a villain. This is a story of love between a father and a son, but misunderstanding and conflict and that’s what we’re anxious for people to see in this movie between these two amazing actors.”
Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings still hasn’t been listed for a Chinese theatrical release as of yet, and it’s been rumored that both Destin Daniel Cretton’s movie and Chloe Zhao’s Eternals won’t be getting a big screen rollout at all. The last thirteen installments in the MCU have all earned at least $100 million in China, but Black Widow has been a notable absentee from the nation’s cinemas despite premiere internationally on July 9th. It’ll be interesting to see if Simu Liu’s debut as the brand new live-action superhero even ends up playing in the country of his birth.