When it was announced that China would get its very own version of Iron Man 3—a cut with four additional minutes of footage aimed specifically at Chinese audiences—the nation didn’t expect those extra minutes to be just a pandering marketing technique, apparently, protected as they are by the trusting, guileless innocence that comes from being safely swaddled in an authoritarian regime. The Hollywood Reporter and the L.A. Times sum up the surprise and disappointment that's being expressed by Chinese bloggers, who have criticized the film’s China-only scenes not only for being completely superfluous, but blatant advertisements. Specifically, they've decried those Chinese sequences for serving primarily as product placement for Chinese electronics manufacturer TCL—this in addition to a graphic that opens the film by asking the question “What does Iron Man rely on to revitalize his energy?” with the answer being “Gu Li Duo,” a local milk drink. (In other words, it’s a crummy commercial.)
Elsewhere, the heavily promoted appearance of popular actor Wang Xueqi is reduced to just a handful of fleeting moments, with Wang’s Dr. Wu meeting Tony Stark near the beginning, later attempting to reach Stark by telephone while Iron Man is fleetingly glimpsed on the (TCL) television behind him, and finally, performing surgery while having a short conversation with his assistant, played by Chinese superstar Fan Bingbing. This is more than Dr. Wu gets in the international cut, of course, where he’s reduced to around 10 seconds of barely noticeable screen time. Still, it’s hardly the “complex, challenging,” and significant role Wang made Dr. Wu out to be when discussing why he took it.
Anyway, disappointment over the emptiness of the China-only scenes hasn’t affected Iron Man 3’s popularity there, with the film already breaking box-office records. But it definitely seems like the sort of opportunism that could spur China to think of America as some sort of, I don’t know, greedy capitalist empire—to say nothing of China's own reputation for maintaining the artistic integrity of films that don't have troublesome politics or penises in them.
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