China hasn’t released a single Marvel movie in three years. Next month, two will hit the screens.


The last Marvel movie to hit Chinese theaters was Avengers Endgame in 2019.

For the next three years, the country, which vets and releases foreign films on a case-by-case basis, did not approve any new titles from the Disney-owned superhero studio. But after this Chinese New Year, things will change.

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In February, two Marvel movies will hit Chinese movie screens. As of February 7, the public will be able to see black panther: wakanda forever, which will launch in China three months after its global launch. Ten days later, on February 17, Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania, it will be released in China, the same day as in the US.

A look behind China’s de facto ban on Marvel movies

Chinese regulators have not openly discussed the reasons for rejecting Marvel movies in recent years. Some motivating factors may be:

🇨🇳 Prioritize local content. Scarlett Johansson-protagonist black widowThe July release coincided with a blackout period in China, where only local productions are released and foreign films are excluded. A late release would not have boded well for box office collections given sophisticated pirate copies and torrents flooding the market.

🤬 Censorship on anti-establishment views. eternal probably didn’t get a release because director Chloé Zhao has been a vocal critic from their country of origin in interviews. (China had even decried Zhao’s Oscar win.) Similarly, the chances of Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Ringswith Marvel’s first Asian superhero, getting a release slimmed down while old videos of star Simu Liu talking about poverty and hunger in the country appeared. Even Liu sharing your favorite drink it received criticism because it was made by a Hong Kong brand that had been deemed “anti-China”. Doctor strange in the multiverse of madness may have been banned by a shot in which a newsstand displayed the Chinese characters for The times of the timean international newspaper that opposes the Chinese Communist Party.

🏳️‍🌈 LGBTQ+ censorship censorship. Another reason eternal was not given a release date could have been a kiss between people of the same sex in the movie. Similarly, the Chinese authorities may have denied the release of the latest Doctor Strange movie because the character of América Chávez (played by Xochitl Gómez) is a lesbian. Thor: Love and Thunder It was probably also banned in China due to multiple LGBTQ+ references.

🇺🇲 Censorship of symbols of American patriotism amid the US-China trade war. China reportedly asked Sony to scrub the statue of liberty—a key feature of the climax sequence—of Spiderman: No Way Home. sony refusedand the film did not reach Chinese theaters.

💬 Racism. Tom Hardy, the star of the 2021 film poison: let there be carnage, which was also denied a release in China, used the term “Chinese” in multiple interviews where he praised actors Marlon Brando and Mickey Rooney for the roles they played in yellowface.

Despite the increased scrutiny, Marvel movies have a big reason to keep showing on the mainland: big money.

Marvel movies in China, by digits

10%-20%: Share of Marvel movies’ box office receipts in China since 2012 (before the rules were changed), second only to the US and Canada

$105 million: Box office earnings in China for 2018 Black Panther

$121 million: China Box Office Earnings for Second Ant-Man Movie Called Ant-Man and the Wasp

$170-$340 million: how much additional income Spider-Man: No Way Home potentially lost by not launching in China

Person of interest: Bob Iger

“It took Iger 40 business days to break Marvel’s blockade in China”, entrepreneur and author Matthew Bell tweeted on the news that China lifted the unofficial ban on Marvel movies.

While neither China nor Marvel Studios have revealed the reason for the change of heart, Bob Iger, the long-term CEO who has returned for two years for damage control, has historically had good relations with china Was responsible for getting the Chinese authorities to Green light given to Shanghai Disneyland Project. After he first left Disney, they even promoted him as candidate for US ambassador to China.

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🗣 Disney issued a searing statement about activist investor Nelson Peltz’s offer to join its board.

🙅🏿‍♂ The story behind the racist responses to “Black Panther” in China

🐜 Ant-man superpower or just an ant?

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