The Marvel Cinematic Universe is unquestionably the most popular movie franchise on the planet, as well as the most commercially successful property in the history of cinema, and China has been key to that success. The nation’s rapidly-growing appetite for blockbuster films has seen Kevin Feige’s steady stream of superhero adventures consistently do big business, but that might not be the case when it comes to Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings.
You’d have thought that the origin story for the MCU’s newest hero would be a guaranteed smash hit in China given that audiences in the country love to support productions that feature local stars, and Shang-Chi boasts more than a few. Leading man Simu Liu was born in Harbin before emigrating the Canada at the age of five, Awkwafina is of Chinese and Korean descent, and co-stars Tony Leung and Michelle Yeoh are legends of the Hong Kong film industry.
However, the first trailer for Shang-Chi has been getting a fairly mixed reception on YouTube. On Marvel Studios’ Taiwanese and Hong Kong accounts, Destin Daniel Cretton’s martial arts actioner holds approval ratings of just 53% and 42% respectively, while Black Widow is rated above 99% on both. As per some of the comments, many fans aren’t sold on the idea of a movie with such a heavy Chinese influence being made by a Western studio largely starring actors who were raised in the United States and Canada, although Tony Leung gets a pass given his status as a bonafide icon.
The MCU has seen its last thirteen films in a row all earn over $100 million at the Chinese box office, and while the decision makers are no doubt expecting Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings to fly a lot higher than that, it might not happen looking at the early response.