This Marvel fan favorite could have been in “The Avengers”
Marvel is said to have offered its co-production company DMG to show the hero Shang-Chi or the legendary, popular villain Mandarin at the end of “The Avengers” – for financial reasons that have to do with China.
In interviews with cinema viewers, Hollywood representatives like to pretend that blockbusters are always about telling great stories. But of course it’s also a lot about money, because the expensive films are (risky) bets – in which for a few years the money that is earned on the Chinese cinema market has played a large, growing role.
Chris Fenton was head of the DMG Entertainment Motion Picture Group, which with its money u. a. Co-produced “Iron Man 3” and thus helped Hollywood to open up the Chinese market – where foreign films, however, are subject to rules that are politically controlled.
Put simply, Hollywood has an interest in ensuring that the films reach the Chinese authorities (through which there is an influence on the content) and of course the Chinese audience.
Fenton describes Hollywood’s considerations regarding China in his book “Feeding The Dragon” * also using the example of Marvel, where it is said that either the Chinese martial arts hero Shang-Chi or the popular Chinese super villain Mandarin at the end of “The Avengers” to appear briefly yesmovies.
either the Chinese martial arts hero Shang-Chi or the popular Chinese super villain Mandarin appear briefly at the end of “The Avengers”.
Shang-Chi or Mandarin?
According to Fenton’s account, the Marvel film division, represented by former Chief Operating Officer Tim Connors, made the following offer to DMG:
If DMG could have raised more money for “The Avengers”, there would have been an opportunity to include a teaser for the Chinese market at the end of the film (presumably a post or mid-credit scene). “This would have made it possible to incorporate either the Mandarin or Shang-Chi. It was our decision which one of them ”, says Chris Fenton in his book (via bleedingcool.com), in which he explains how u. a. Hollywood is becoming more and more dependent on China and thus also on the authoritarian regime ruling there.
When deciding whether to want the hero Shang-Chi or the villain Mandarin, the DMG development team in Beijing leaned towards Shang-Chi – simply because it would have been better to sell to the propaganda authority in China to have a Chinese hero in the film instead of a villain. That had directly to do with the image that China wants to have spread of itself in the world.
And in a swipe against Hollywood, Chris Fenton goes on to say that Chinese actors there often get the roles of opponents, also so that you “don’t waste the hero part on a Chinese actor”.
And what spoke in favor of choosing the Mandarin?
Alan Chu, the Vice President of the Beijing development team at DMG, saw the Mandarin as the more interesting, because more complex, figure compared to Shang-Chi. But the risk of choosing the villain Mandarin in “The Avengers” was too great for DMG.
But the risk of choosing the villain Mandarin in “The Avengers” was too great for DMG.
They were afraid that the film would not even be allowed to start in China (which later worked with “Iron Man 3”, where DMG was on board and the “Mandarin”, contrary to the comics, is not supposed to be a Chinese character).
After a Chinese state agency signaled that the Mandarin was not liked, the matter was finally decided: Neither should Shang-Chi be at the end of “The Avengers”, nor the supposedly more interesting Mandarin. DMG canceled the deal with the teaser. “Too much effort and not enough time,” Alan Chu is quoted in the book.
Chris Fenton then justified the rejection to his Marvel contact person Tim Connors with the fact that Mandarin corresponds too closely to the stereotype of an evil Chinese man.
Nothing came of the short appearance of Shang-Chi or the Mandarin at the end of “The Avengers” (which might have only been seen in the Chinese version anyway), but Marvel is now planning its own “Shang-Chi” film, which should come to the cinemas on April 29, 2021 – by the way with the Mandarin as the villain (after he was just a con man in “Iron Man 3”, which was not well received by many fans).
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