Kevin Feige is doing damage control in regard to the release of the upcoming Marvel Cinematic Universe tentpole “Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings” in China. The new Marvel movie does not have a release date there yet, and rumors have circulated for weeks the film might not pass China’s censorship laws in the midst of backlash against the movie. As reported by Variety, the Marvel Studios president gave a 14-minute interview with Chinese film critic Raymond Zhou at the “Shang-Chi” premiere this week in which he tried to overcome China’s biggest concerns about the movie.
“Shang-Chi” has been bombarded with nationalist complaints for months now because of the character Fu Manchu, who is Shang-Chi’s father and primary nemesis in the comic books. Fu Manchu has been widely seen through the years as being racist and an embodiment of the Yellow Peril stereotype. Feige stressed that Fu Manchu is not involved in the film in any capacity. While Shang-Chi’s father is a major role in the movie played by Tony Leung, the character is not Fu Manchu.
“[Fu Manchu] is not a character we own or would ever want to own. It was changed in the comics many, many, many years ago. We never had any intention of [having him] in this movie,” Feige said. “Definitively, Fu Manchu is not in this movie, is not Shang-Chi’s father, and again, is not even a Marvel character, and hasn’t been for decades.”
Feige also doubled down on the narrative of “Shang-Chi” in order to calm fears that the movie portrays a Chinese character abandoning his roots and embracing the West, another plot point from the comic books. Feige noted that “Shang-Chi” depicts the opposite: A Chinese character returning and reconnecting with his homeland after he ran away, which is a negative quality to the character in the movie.
“That sense of running away…is presented as one of his flaws,” Feige said. “It is a flaw to run away to the West and to hide from his legacy and his family — that’s how the movie is presented. And how he will face that and overcome that is part of what the story’s about.”
China is an important market for Disney and Marvel, and Shang-Chi needs a release there if the studios want any chance of breaking even at the box office. “Avengers: Endgame” grossed $629 million in China and stands as the country’s highest grossing foreign film ever, plus the sixth biggest movie overall. As “Shang-Chi” awaits a China release, it will open in U.S. theaters on September 3.