At the very beginning, a few years since its entrance into the cinematic industry, Marvel had been performing profoundly in every aspect in every country. However, that spark seemed to be fading away as several fans started losing interest in the franchise lately. What’s more, is that the reason behind this isn’t just the critical failure of some of the recent films, but also the fact that one intensely favorable country in terms of revenue grossing for the MCU decided to cut ties with it: China.
While Simu Liu, the lead of Shang Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings – several sequences of which were set in China – played a hand in MCU films not being able to cross the Great Wall of China, the director of Eternals further made matters worse with one controversial comment.
Eternals Director Played A Major Role In China Cutting Ties With Marvel
Out of all the countries where the Marvel Cinematic Universe releases its pictures, China held one of the major shares in earning stunning millions for the franchise. For instance, Iron Man 3 itself grossed a whopping $121 million in the country out of the total gross of $1.215 billion.
Not only this, but the MCU became one of the most successful franchises in China by releasing films that were ‘exotic but understandable to Chinese audiences’, which helped the franchise build up an audience in the country, unlike other franchises. As per Chinese producer Sky Shi’s words mentioned in MCU: The Reign of Marvel Studios:
“People love Marvel precisely because it’s so different from local content.”
However, after the next seven years of constantly rising box office numbers for the MCU with China playing a major part in it, one film came that couldn’t get itself past the Great Wall of China because of a controversial comment made by the lead: Simu Liu in Shang Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings.
Despite the fact that the film had numerous long sequences set in The Red Dragon country, Liu’s remark about China being a “third world” country back in 2017 banned its entrance into the country. Making matters worse was the remark from the director of the worst-rated MCU film: Chloé Zhao, Eternals.
During an interview back in 2013, the Chinese-born filmmaker was seen calling her birthplace “a place where there are lies everywhere”, which led to her epic failed MCU film getting blocked from being released in the country as well.
This blackout toward the franchise from the China Film Administration without any explanation seemed to hint at only one point: that China didn’t need the MCU despite the franchise being massively popular.
The Reason Why China Re-established Its Relationship With The MCU
Although the Marvel Cinematic Universe had grown immensely through its short history in the cinematic industry, it now faced a retrenchment from one of its most favorable ally countries, that went on for four years.
After this almost half-a-decade period of blackout which had films like Thor: Love and Thunder unable to make their way into Chinese cinemas, the ban was finally lifted in early 2023 for the release of Black Panther: Wakanda Forever and Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania in the country.
While there was no explanation issued – once again – for this unexpected decision to bring Marvel back to China, observations reported stated that one major reason behind this was that the Chinese box office had dropped 36 percent from the prior year, falling behind the North American market, as per the book.
Though China had managed to make some homegrown franchises of its own to save the Chinese box office from further falling, the country realized that it still needed Hollywood released, especially from the MCU, to keep the theaters filled.
Thus, as soon as both parties realized the need for the other, almost everyone agreed to do everything to make sure no more problems resurfaced for either of them anymore, in terms of theatre.