China Unexpectedly Lifts Ban on Marvel Films Just in Time for Black Panther 2 and Ant-Man 3 Releases

Mar 14, 2023

With two of Marvel’s biggest cinematic sequels right around the corner, a rather big MCU plot twist has suddenly come to surprise just about everyone. According to a report by Collider, China has now officially lifted the ban on all Marvel films after three years, and it will be just in time for the premieres of both Black Panther: Wakanda Forever and Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania in the country this February.

Related: Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania Finds Scott Lang Fighting to Get Home

China, which has the world’s second-largest theatrical market, had last shown the ever-memorable finale of MCU’s third phase, Avengers: Endgame, back in 2019, contributing to the film’s earth-shattering box office success. Following the peak of the COVID-19 pandemic, the country first enacted the complete ban on Marvel films from all of its theaters back in 2021 when the Black Widow film first premiered. That decision led to an expected significant downturn in global ticket sales for Marvel Studios. Given the strange timing and China’s refusal to state a clear reason as to why the ban was implemented in the first place, speculation has swirled online since the announcement of its lifting. Director Chloe Zhao (The Eternals) has mused that the decision could have been a motive by Chinese regulators to prioritize local content over international projects, but it remains to be seen.

China Isn’t the Only Country That’s Banned or Restricted Marvel Films

China’s nearly 2-year long detrimental decision to ban the MCU was a huge contention for both the filmmakers and Chinese audiences, and it led to much of the studio’s Phase 4 films being missed out on. However, China isn’t the only country that chose to go that route. Over in the Middle East, Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Kuwait all had restricted the release of Marvel’s The Eternals (2021) until a slew of censor edits they requested were made to the film. The primary source of contention was reportedly over a same-sex couple in the film, which included Phastos, the first gay superhero of the MCU. Due to homosexuality still being illegal in regions like the Gulf, films with such content are often still pulled. Disney refused all such requests for edits, which led to the ban of the film in all three countries. Director Chloe Zhao stood adamantly by her mutual decision to not alter anything within her film, that it would be been disingenuous.

Black Panther: Wakanda Forever, which has since released around the rest of the world, will finally get its premiere in China on February 7th, and Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania will debut on the same day as the U.S. on February 17th.

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