A magazine on religious liberty and human rights
by Zhou Kexin
For the series “it may happen only in China,” fans who hoped that the new movie “Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness,” featuring the Marvel Comics hero Dr. Stephen Strange, would be available to Chinese audiences have been sorely disappointed. The film will not be released in China.
Reportedly, the movie has been banned because during a fight with a demon in the streets of New York involving Dr. Strange and female superhero America Chavez, a yellow newspaper box of The Epoch Times, the daily newspaper connected with Falun Gong, appears on the left of the screen.
Actually, it appears twice, but each time for less than three seconds. It is clearly unintentional, considering that the producer and distributor of the film are both part of Disney, a company that has always tried to accommodate China. Simply, these newspaper boxes are in many streets of New York. The fact that “Epoch Times” is written in Chinese on the box explains why nobody at the studios noticed its presence in the fight scene.
However not even showing for a few seconds an image nobody looks at, since the audience is presumably focused on Dr Strange and America fighting for their lives in the centre of the screen, escapes the wrath of the CCP censors.
They did not stop at banning the movie. The Global Times, the mouthpiece of international CCP propaganda, claimed that “Marvel Studios openly ‘advertises’ for a cult.” The movie, the Global Times insisted, “alludes to the Falun Gong and The Epoch Times,” which is both an offense to China and “is putting the US and Hollywood to shame.” Remember, all this for an image that is barely visible for some five seconds.
For Chinese netizens, this is another extraordinary story. However, many do not believe the official version. While the Global Times in its article accused Falun Gong of being, among other things, “homophobic,” the CCP has censored several foreign movies because their heroes are homosexual, as is America Chavez in the new Doctor Strange film.
Others believe that the story is more simple. Doctor Strange is about magic from beginning to end, and features witches, wizards, esoteric books, and even the Illuminati. Almost every month China introduces a new regulation banning the “promotion of feudal superstitions” through movies, TV shows, novels, comics, and the social media. Perhaps the five seconds for The Epoch Times are a pretext, and it is Dr. Strange himself who is perceived as promoting “feudal superstitions” or operating a xie jiao.
P.S. [from the editorial board of Bitter Winter] Perhaps our Chinese correspondent did not consider another possible explanation. In a recent interview, our editor-in-chief Massimo Introvigne stated that, “I was interested in exotic forms of spirituality since I was a teenager, for different reasons. One was novels featuring magic, and comics, for which I have maintained an interest to this date. I remember, for instance, Marvel Comics’ Dr. Strange…” That may be reason enough for the CCP to dislike Dr. Strange. Just in case somebody without a sense of humor wonders, we are just joking—although we would not mind having a Bitter Winter poster featured in the next Hollywood blockbuster.
Uses a pseudonym for security reasons.
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