Marvel Movies Make Their Way Back to China

China lifts long ban of Marvel films, starting with “Black Panther: Wakanda Forever.”

Jane Neal, Content Editor

February 3, 2023

2 Min Read
Scene from “Black Panther: Wakanda Forever.”
Scene from “Black Panther: Wakanda Forever.”Disney

It’s been a long, dry season for Marvel fans in China, which banned the franchise’s films back in 2019, without providing any substantial explanation. The last Marvel movies to be screened in China were 2019’s “Spider-Man: Far From Home” and “Avengers: Endgame.” (Hey, at least they got to see how the Avengers saga played out.) 

NBC News suggests the reasons behind the initial ban could be linked to the strict censorship standards in China and the country’s limit on the release of foreign films in order to promote domestic ones. But that ban meant that most of Marvel’s Phase 4 titles never played in China, including “Black Widow, “Spider-Man: No Way Home,” “Eternals,” “Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings,” “Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness” and “Thor: Love and Thunder.” That’s a heck of a lot of rich fan fodder left unconsumed. And as we’ve reported in License Global in the past, the Marvel Cinematic Universe is vast and it’s expanding. 

Variety announced last month that China has decided to lift its ban on Marvel films, starting with “Black Panther: Wakanda Forever,” which is slated for a Feb. 7 release. It’s good news for Marvel fans, for sure, but also a welcome development for Disney, assuming Marvel’s absence has made China’s moviegoers’ hearts grow fonder.  

Related:The Loyal Subjects Expands Marvel Partnership

Marvel movies have historically done extremely well at the box office in China. Box Office Mojo reports that in 2018, the first “Black Panther” movie made $105 million there, while the second “Ant-Man” movie took in $121 million. “Avengers: Endgame” raked in $632 million, making it the most successful foreign film in China ever. Banning the Marvel film franchise did seem to negatively impact China’s box office receipts. According to Business Insider, the country's box office plummeted 36% in 2022 compared to the previous year.

When “Black Panther: Wakanda Forever” breaks China’s Marvel exile, it’s safe to assume the film will clean up there just as it has elsewhere. Its box office total stands at $841.3 million and counting. The film just arrived on Disney+ and is still playing in theaters across the U.S.

Marvel film releases just naturally spawn Marvel products, from collectibles to games to clothing. And that’s good news for retailers as well as those in the brand licensing sphere. 

The release of “Black Panther: Wakanda Forever” will be followed in quick succession by “Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania,” which will hit Chinese screens Feb. 17, the same day it’s slated to appear in theaters in both the U.S. and U.K. 

Related:Foot Locker Debuts Limited-Edition Marvel ‘Black Panther’ Pack

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About the Author(s)

Jane Neal

Content Editor, License Global

Jane Neal is a Content Editor for License Global. Working remotely in the great state of Wisconsin, Jane specializes in retail and pop-culture trends.

She has worked extensively in the communication field as a managing editor, advertising copywriter, technical writer and journalist. She detoured for several years into academia where she taught journalism, English and humanities at the college level.

A complete Marvel nerd, she enjoys food, films, fishing, friends and family … and alliteration.

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