David Wertime

Voices — Chinese Netizens Pan Iron Man 3 In Advance

Disney and Marvel may be getting this gesture a lot from Beijing's censors

Strap on your rocket boosters and get ready for hilarity. As the Wall Street Journal reported yesterday, Disney’s China division and Marvel studios have agreed to work with the China-based DMG to film Iron Man 3 in China. Sir Ben Kingsley has reportedly confirmed he will play the Mandarin, one of Iron Man’s nemeses from the comic book series.

The film will need to receive approval at multiple stages from China’s cultural watchdogs, the State Administration of Radio, Film and Television (SARFT).

Although one might reasonably think that Chinese would swell with pride at the news, preliminary reaction on Sina Weibo, China’s Twitter, has been decidedly mixed, skewing negative. As @孙-飞-扬: wrote, the film will “certainly be ruined” by its involvement with the Middle Kingdom. Some netizens said they “could not wait” to see it, but among the relatively small number of comments currently available on the subject, they were outnumbered.

More importantly, it’s given netizens the chance to showcase their comedic talents. With wry humor this good, Tea Leaf Nation will simply step out of the way and showcase the funniest responses: 

Adapting Iron Man 3 for Chinese conditions

@手机用户1037283452: Could even a stronger version of Iron Man defeat trench oil, or poisonous pills? [Recent scandals in China have included using recycled, or "trench" cooking oil and the use of leather scraps to make capsule casing.]

@万物皆为刍狗: There will certainly be more Chinese factors integrated into this sequel: Robert Downey Jr. will discover to his surprise that the nuclear cell in his chest and his own mixture of super chemical elements are already not working, and the only way to preserve his status as a hero is to drink the magical Chinese elixir known as ShuHua Milk at a fixed time every day….. [The reference to ShuHua milk appears to be a reference to a 2008 scandal in which melamine was found in a number of Chinese milk products.]

The logistics  

@笨嘴牛: Do they need bit players? I can play the armor. 

@我叫大白兔: Prepare [yourself] for a crazy onslaught of ads.

@喊两嗓子: Filming movies is a high-pollution activity that consumes resources, ‘uncle Sam’ has begun to use his brain.

@大明湖畔的梁任公: Which Chinese city are the special effects guys getting ready to destroy, Hong Kong or Shanghai?

So the bad guy is the “Mandarin,” eh?

Evil enough for you? Author: Siebbi

@杰克船长睡不着: I kept worrying that the antagonist “Mandarin” would cause the always-sensitive SARFT to ding Iron Man 3 as insulting to China. Looks like I didn’t need to worry.

@大脸猫o_0爱吃皮皮虾Rene: In the comics isn’t Mandarin Chinese? Why is a foreigner playing him?  

@菜翻L: We [Chinese] are always the evil BOSS… 

@東山老魔: That Chinese big BOSS, is it a “chengguan” chieftain? [Chengguan are a type of low-level urban police in China, widely reviled for their abusive treatment of unlicensed merchants.]

Advance praise, er, condemnation

@粱某某某某某某: I smell a “shanzhai” scent. ["Shanzhai" is Chinese slang for knock-off.]

@小-林同学: Ai, ruined, ruined…my “iron man”!

@P_Kohl: After such a terrible number two is there still a need for a third? Really boring. Not watching.

@L_等着喵: [Quoting the WSJ Chinese article], “This shows the attraction that China’s entertainment industry has globally.” no!no! It shows the attraction China’s banknotes have for them. 

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David Wertime

David is the co-founder and co-editor of Tea Leaf Nation. He first encountered China as a Peace Corps Volunteer in 2001 and has lived and worked in Fuling, Chongqing, Beijing, and Hong Kong. He is a ChinaFile fellow at the Asia Society and an associate fellow at the Truman National Security Project.