Following the failure of 'Mulan', Chinese moviegoers doubt Marvel's first Asian hero on the big screen
Published: Sep 01, 2021 11:09 PM
Simu Liu attends the Shang-Chi and The Legend of The Ten Rings New York Screening at Regal Union Square on August 30, 2021 in New York City, the US. Photo: CFP

Simu Liu attends the "Shang-Chi and The Legend of The Ten Rings" New York Screening at Regal Union Square on August 30, 2021 in New York City, the US. Photo: CFP

Among all the fans looking forward to Marvel's latest movie Shang-Chi, more Chinese moviegoers have lower their expectations given the previous failure of Chinese adaptations that were full of stereotypes.

Starring Chinese-Canadian actor Simu Liu, Chinese actor Tony Leung, and American actress Awkwafina, Shang-Chi and The Legend of The Ten Rings will have its theatrical debut on September 3 in the US.

Though the release date in the Chinese mainland is still unclear, the movie has won a round of applause for its preview with an IBM score of 8.7 out of 10, and a rating of 92 percent on the movie review website Rotten Tomatoes. 

Yet, as Marvel's first movie in its history with an Asian leading hero, Chinese audiences do not have too much hope for the movie given the previous disappointment on China with Disney's live-action version of the animated movie Mulan.

Postponed several times by COVID-19, Mulan finally debuted in China's cinemas in September 2020 with high expectations from many Chinese moviegoers.

However, the movie only got a score of 4.9 out of 10 on Chinese movie review platform Douban, compared with the 73 percent rate it received on Rotten Tomatoes.

The "strange costumes and makeup" made some in China feel that they do not look like the Mulan most Chinese are familiar with since they were children.

Mulan's free-fall drop has also kept a number of Chinese audiences away from the coming Shang-Chi, worrying that the movie will "follow the path of the predecessor" because of stereotypes and aesthetic differences between the East and West.

In addition, some Marvel fans are still dissatisfied with the character Fu Manchu mentioned in the original comics.

Fu Manchu is the villain in the comic, commonly considered to be a personification of the "yellow peril", a metaphor that represents Asians as a threat to Western society.

In order to maintain the hard-won Chinese market, the President of Marvel Studios, Kevin Feige, defended the movie's deviation from the original comics in an interview with Chinese movie critic Zhou Liming in mid-August.

"Fu Manchu is not a character that we own or we want to own. He will not be in the movie in any shape of form," Feige said.

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