Marvel’s Eternals & Shang-Chi Movies May Not Release In China Due to Backlash


The backlash to behind-the-scenes talent and casting may keep Eternals and Shang-Chi from playing in Chinese cinemas this year.

Marvel Studios may be returning to the movies in 2021 but Eternals and Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings may not be released in Chinese cinemas. After being forced to delay all of their films due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Marvel Studios is set to have a big return to the movies in 2021 with four films. Marvel is looking to introduce two new franchises based on relatively obscure Marvel characters: Shang-Chi and The Eternals.

Part of the MCU’s ever-growing success is their films’ ability to play not just in the United States but overseas as well, specifically China. Avengers: Endgame is currently the sixth highest-grossing film of all time at the Chinese box office. For a film to play in China they need approval by the Chinese government, and the number of films that can play is limited due to them wanting to keep a balance between domestic and imported films. Some films, like Christopher Robin, can be denied release and while every film in the MCU has so far been released in China that streak may come to an end soon.

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Related: 2021 Is The First Year Since 2011 With TWO New Marvel Franchises

In a report from Variety, CCTV6 China Movie Channel ran a report on the Marvel Cinematic Universe Phase 4 films and listed eight of the ten scheduled titles in their report but left out both Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings and Eternals. While not an official confirmation that the films will not play in China, this adds fuel to the fire of speculation in the wake of recent reports on both films. Giving weight to this rumor is the fact that CCTV6 is under the jurisdiction of China’s propaganda department which approves which films get released.

Each film faces different backlash, with Eternals being the biggest. China recently blocked all mentions of Eternals director Chloé Zhao’s recent film Nomadland from Chinese social media sites due to past comments Zhao has made about China. Nomadland was set to open in China on April 23 but was pulled from the schedule and no date has been set. When Zhao won the Academy Award for Best Director, the first woman from China to win the honor, no mention was made on government-sponsored news outlets or websites.

Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings‘ controversy lies in the casting and perception of the film. In the original comics, Shang-Chi was the son of the pulp villain and racial caricature Fu Manchu. While the comics have removed that part of his origins and the film has updated him to be the son of Wenwu, aka The Mandarin, many see The Mandarin and Fu Manchu as one and the same. Other criticism claims the movie shows a stereotypical view of China while some have criticized the casting of Simu Liu and Awkwafina saying they don’t fit the standards of Chinese beauty. There seems to be a possibility that Tony Leung, who plays the Mandarin, might have been blacklisted due to him taking on the role as two of his films having completed production but are unable to secure release dates.

There is still time for Marvel and Disney to get these films release dates in China. If they don’t, it could have an interesting impact on the MCU as any future Marvel movies that feature these characters could face similar problems. Shang-Chi and the Eternals are set to have a big role in the MCU moving forward, so one can only hope this won’t impact their future too much.

Next: Every Upcoming Marvel Cinematic Universe Movie

Source: Variety

  • Black Widow (2021)Release date: Jul 09, 2021
  • Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings (2021)Release date: Sep 03, 2021
  • Eternals (2021)Release date: Nov 05, 2021
  • Spider-Man: No Way Home (2021)Release date: Dec 17, 2021
  • Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness (2022)Release date: Mar 25, 2022
  • Thor: Love and Thunder (2022)Release date: May 06, 2022
  • Black Panther: Wakanda Forever/Black Panther 2 (2022)Release date: Jul 08, 2022
  • The Marvels/Captain Marvel 2 (2022)Release date: Nov 11, 2022
  • Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania (2023)Release date: Feb 17, 2023
  • Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 (2023)Release date: May 05, 2023

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