Two of Marvel’s upcoming movies, Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings and the Eternals, feature Chinese-born creators in front of and behind the camera. And yet, these two movies may not make it to Chinese theaters if a hint from CCTV6 China Movie Channel ends up being accurate, according to a report from Variety.
CCTV6 aired a list of the United States release dates for all of the upcoming MCU Phase Four films, but Eternals and Shang-Chi were missing despite being the nearest films after Black Widow, which releases July 9. As Variety notes, their absence from the list doesn’t guarantee they won’t make it over, but the two films are already facing some challenges. These two movies are the first to significantly feature Asian creators; Shang-Chi stars Chinese-Canadian actor Simu Liu, while Eternals was helmed by Academy Award-winning director Chloe Zhao.
Shang-Chi‘s major obstacle comes from its history as an older Marvel comic. Shang-Chi first appeared in Marvel comics in 1973, a time when Marvel creators were taking inspiration from Eastern film and culture. Doctor Strange first appeared in 1963, and the Mandarin and Iron Fist a year after Shang-Chi, in 1974. Marvel didn’t always handle these characters gracefully. Variety points out that Shang-Chi’s father in his original backstory is a character called Fu Manchu, a character long associated with Asian racism and stereotyping. Marvel tweaked Shang-Chi’s backstory for his movie, making the Mandarin his father and casting veteran Chinese actor Tony Leung, but Chinese moviegoers appear skeptical.