Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings and Eternals are already shaping up to be two of Marvel’s hottest—and most mysterious—new releases, but a recent report from a major trade publication casts doubt on their availability in a booming movie market.
Variety brings word (via Bounding Into Comics) that Marvel’s Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings may not get a theatrical release in China at all. The CCTV6 China Movie Channel revealed a list for eight of the ten Marvel Cinematic Universe films currently scheduled for release, curiously omitting Shang-Chi and the upcoming Eternals film. China’s propaganda department runs this particular channel, and the folks over there have the final say on which films hit Chinese theaters and which ones do not. As it turns out, they are reportedly displeased with certain depictions in the upcoming film, although nothing concrete has been said or confirmed by the people making the decision. This may just be speculation at this point, but the reasons behind each potential ban actually make some sense, especially when one considers the Chinese government’s strict ban on material it believes harms its country’s image or fails to further its aims.
As for Marvel’s Eternals, the reason for China’s hesitancy to release it may involve its director, Nomadland helmer Chloe Zhao. Zhao is an acclaimed director, one who has earned the respect of critics and other industry professionals the world over. But that matters little to those who may have found some of her public statements harmful or offensive. More specifically, the Chinese government has perceived many of her recent comments as criticism of the way the country is run, and has since imposed a ban on her films and on news of her films. When you consider that, it definitely seems as if Eternals will have a tougher time making it past China’s censorship tests. Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings has a shot, but nothing is guaranteed.
The reason that Marvel’s next two films may not make it into Chinese theaters is fairly simple: China’s movie market is not a free market, meaning every film that is not made in China must meet rigorous standards and pass potential censorship tests. Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings is a notable installment in the Marvel Cinematic Universe for many reasons, one of the biggest—and most relevant to this particular situation—being that it marks the debut of Marvel’s first Asian superhero.
Marvel’s Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings stars Simu Liu, Awkwafina, Michelle Yeoh, Fala Chen, Meng’er Zhang, Florian Munteanu and Ronny Chieng. Destin Daniel Cretton directed the film and Marvel Studios creative architect Kevin Feige serves as producer. The movie will function as part of Phase Four of the Marvel Cinematic Universe and will introduce a cast of characters with whom most audiences are not familiar.
Marvel’s Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings is currently scheduled to be released in the United States on September 3, 2021. Eternals will follow on November 5.