Black Panther Isn't Going Over Quite As Well With Viewers In China

black panther night scene

In the United States and in various other parts of the world, Black Panther has been a phenomenon. In just under a month, it's already made over a billion dollars---despite being an origin story superhero film that doesn't feature Iron Man. On Rotten Tomatoes, the movie is currently running at 97%, which indicates nearly universal praise for the movie. However, the movie recently opened in China, and while it did decently at the box office, reviews have not been quite as praise-filled as they were here in the States.

Per recent box office reports, Black Panther opened over the weekend in China, making $66.5 million during its first three days at the box office. In comparison, Star Wars: The Last Jedi flopped in China and only brought in $7 million during opening weekend, so $66.5 million is a pretty hefty sum. Still, reviews for the movie have not been quite as positive as their American counterparts, with the Chinese site Douban---a site that's similar to IMDB or Rotten Tomatoes over here, listing the movie at a 6.8/10.

Some of the viewers who have seen Black Panther in China and believed it was OK have written about the movie and what they perceive are its problems. An average review for Black Panther in China can be translated along the lines of:

Still too routine, but the protagonist changed to black. Another piece of work that expands the layout is limited, and the action scenes and story highlights are limited. Some political ambitions have been inserted in the middle. Actually, it is boring.

Another commenter mentioned that people in China may not be used to movies with nearly all-black casts and dark nighttime settings, noting:

People may not be accustomed to black movies... They also set a lot of scenes at night.

University Lecturer in Shanghai Marcel Daniels told Sixthtone that people in China are not often exposed to diverse cultures, especially African cultures, and that may be reflected in the response to the film in China.

I find that a lot of stereotypes in China come from a limited exposure to diversity, so assumptions are made reflexively. Hopefully this film sparks interest in Chinese viewers to learn more about the history, people, and cultures of those from Africa.

As it stands, Black Panther is unapologetically African in its setting, its clothing, its costumes and its characters. Although that may be a little bit foreign in some marketplaces, the latest Marvel flick is still making money overseas, even in China. Perhaps Black Panther will lead to more movies with wider points of view at the box office there. Even if it doesn't, the MCU will definitely be seeing more of the characters. If you still haven't caught Black Panther, yet, it just crushed in its fourth week at the box office. You can take a look at this weekend's results, here.

Jessica Rawden
Managing Editor

Reality TV fan with a pinch of Disney fairy dust thrown in. Theme park junkie. If you’ve created a rom-com I’ve probably watched it.