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Actor Leung in stereotype controversy over Marvel film character

(Global Times)    11:35, July 23, 2019

Jury member, Chinese Hongkong actor Tony Leung attends the awards ceremony at the 64th Berlinale International Film Festival in Berlin, Feb. 15, 2014. (Xinhua/Zhang Fan)

Hong Kong actor Tony Leung encountered controversy on social media for playing the character Mandarin that some deem as a character insulting to Chinese.

Mandarin was a controversial villain in Marvel's cartoon series and will appear in the newly announced film Shang-Chi.

The hashtag "Tong Leung stars in Marvel new film" on China's Twitter-like Sina Weibo platform has been viewed more than 510 million times as of press time with users saying that they did not understand why Leung agreed to play the character.

Leung, 57, has not replied to the flood of criticism, but his wife the actress Crina Lau said on Sina Weibo on Sunday reading "Keep calm and relax cos life is beautiful."

A fan of Leung surnamed Yao told the Global Times on Monday that as an award-winning actor, Leung possibly wanted to enrich his personal experience rather than favoring the international market.

Marvel announced Leung would play the Mandarin in Shang-Chi on Saturday. Mandarin, a vital enemy to Iron Man, replaces the notorious Fu Manchu to be the antagonist in the film, adapted from Marvel comic Master of Kung Fu.

Marvel irritated some Chinese internet users already as it kept the antagonists that were created under the influence of the "yellow peril" theory.

"No matter what the name is, the characters are stereotype images in the Western world of Chinese people," a Weibo user posted.

Others showed understanding and called for tolerance.

They said that a fake Mandarin had appeared in Iron Man 3 in 2013 and that Chinese authorities would not allow the film to be released in China if the character really insulted the country.

"Replacing Fu Manchu with the Mandarin has showed Marvel's willingness to forgo elements of racism in the film. It is a good gesture," Shi Wenxue, a Beijing film critic, told the Global Times on Sunday.

If the Shang-Chi failed to remodel Mandarin to eliminate racism elements, it is the failure of company not players, said Yao. 

(For the latest China news, Please follow People's Daily on Twitter and Facebook)
(Web editor: Shi Xi, Du Mingming)

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