Marvel's Shang-Chi could be banned in China because of links to racist character
9 September 2021, 15:50 | Updated: 9 September 2021, 17:21
Fu Manchu was Shang-Chi's father in the original Marvel comics.
Shang-Chi was released on September 3 and it has received rave reviews. The movie, which some have dubbed the best Marvel movie of all time, has a 92% Certified Fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes and, as of September 7, has earned $157.5 million worldwide.
However, the movie has not been approved to be released in China yet. China has strong censorship laws that all international films must abide by. All films have to be approved in order to be shown within the country. The rules include promoting resistance to the law, showing pornography, showcasing homosexuality, pushing other religions and insulting Chinese traditions.
The problem with Shang-Chi is its links to Fu Manchu, Shang-Chi's father in the original Marvel comics. The character – which was created by white novelist Sax Rohmer, who had not been to China – is based on the racist idea of "yellow peril" whereby Chinese and Japanese people were a threat to the Western world. The character is considered the archetype of Western anti-Chinese sentiment.
However, Fu Manchu doesn't actually appear in Shang-Chi. Marvel replaced Fu Manchu with Xu Wenwu, played by Tony Leung. However, the Chinese government still believe the movie has racist origins.
According to Daily Mail, Shi Wenxue, a film critic in Beijing, told the Global Times: "Fu Manchu is a treacherous representation of the 'yellow peril' stereotype. Chinese audiences cannot accept a prejudiced character."
There also appears to be an issue with the choice of casting Chinese-Canadian actor Simu Liu in the lead role. Liu was born in China but moved to Canada aged five, but some Chinese critics have reportedly branded him "not Chinese enough". That coupled with the Asian-led movie largely centring on martial arts, a common Chinese stereotype, could be stopping the movie from being released in China.