Marvel's first black superhero film Black Panther has become an example of inclusivity of sorts. It made a strong debut in the international markets with raking over USD 1 billion. While the movie was widely appreciated for starring black actors, it did not receive similar reactions from China. Although it opened to USD 63 million in the country, not many moviegoers were impressed. The movie has been receiving harsh criticism for its all-black cast.
According to a report in The Quartz, online reviews of Black Panther was subtly racist and expressed discomfort. Black Panther has scored a 6.8 rating on Douban, an IMDb-like website in China while it among the highest-rated superhero movie in other countries. The film is even the best-rated movie of the Marvel Cinematic Universe on Rotten Tomatoes with a 97 percent score.
Black Panther is set in a fictional country in Wakanda, East Africa hidden from the outside world. The movie is about how the king of the country, T'Challa, used his intelligence, ancestral knowledge along with advanced technologies to become the superhero, Black Panther. The report quoted a commented on Douban as saying, "Black Panther is black, all the major characters are black, a lot of scenes are black, the car-chasing scene is black—the blackness has really made me drowsy." While someone else commented, "Maybe the Chinese are still not used to a film full of black people."
Another comment read, "When I entered the theater, a bunch of black people was fighting in the night… I've never been in a theater so dark that I couldn't find my seat." Someone also commented saying, "When I entered the theater, a bunch of black people was fighting in the night… I've never been in a theater so dark that I couldn't find my seat."
The racist comments come at a time when China may overtake the US as the world's biggest market. Aamir Khan and Salman Khan movies like Dangal and Bajrangi Bhaijaan received great success in the country. Black Panther is Marvel's fifth movie to cross USD 1billion mark at the worldwide box office. Meanwhile, Black Panther has made over Rs 50 crore in India.