“A torture for the eyes”: Chinese moviegoers think Black Panther is just too black
23 March 2018
Marvel’s first black superhero film Black Panther made a strong debut in China, taking in more than $63 million this weekend and helping it cross the billion-dollar mark globally. And while the film filled seats in China, it didn’t exactly bring in rave reviews from Chinese audiences—in fact, online reviews hint at subtle racism and discomfort with the all-black cast.
Set in Wakanda, a fictional country in East Africa that’s hidden from the outside world, the movie portrayed a romanticized version of Africa that had never been touched by the white man. Led by a cast of black actors and actresses, the film presented how the king of the country, T’Challa, used his intelligence, ancestral knowledge, and access to advance technologies to become the superhero Black Panther.
But the movie—which comes as a timely portrayal and celebration of blackness half a century after Martin Luther King Jr.’s assassination—is hardly resonating with Chinese audiences. On Douban, China’s IMDb-esque platform, the film holds a 6.8 rating out of 10 (link in Chinese)—almost half of science-fiction and action movies rated by Douban users have a better score. Outside of China, Black Panther is on track to become the highest-rated superhero movie, according to Rotten Tomatoes; 97% of reviews from critics have been positive.