Black Panther: Wakanda Forever And Black Adam Will Likely Be Blocked From Release In China

Two major superhero movie releases are likely to skip a huge market. According to The Hollywood Reporter, "Black Panther: Wakanda Forever" and "Black Adam" are expected to be blocked from release in China. While no official announcement has been made by the Beijing regulators responsible for making such decisions (they're rarely officially announced), THR's sources within the Chinese film industry say that both movies "are believed to have little chance of winning approval at this stage." This will come as a particularly tough blow for Warner Bros. Pictures, given "Black Adam" star Dwayne Johnson's popularity in China.

That said, these bans were probably expected by both studios. In recent years, China has become more strict about how many foreign-made movies are permitted to screen in theaters. Marvel, in particular, has seen a dramatic decrease in permitted releases with a wide range of potential explanations. "Eternals" and "Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings" were reportedly banned due to perceived anti-government comments by Chloé Zhao and Simu Liu, while "Spider-Man: No Way Home" was reportedly blocked from release due to its inclusion of the Statue of Liberty.

DC movies have had better luck with getting releases in China, but that doesn't necessarily mean they always bring in the big bucks. For instance, "The Batman" received a release in China, but only managed to rack up $12.1 million in its debut. As THR notes, "The Batman" was the only U.S. superhero movie to release in the country in the past three years, which doesn't bode well for future releases.

Why Black Adam and Wakanda Forever are unlikely to release in China

As previously mentioned, there is still no confirmation that either "Wakanda Forever" or "Black Adam" have been banned from releasing in China, but both have already released in theaters around the world, and an executive for a Chinese movie theater chain told The Hollywood Reporter that Warner Bros. has "stopped hoping" for a Chinese release date. Based on patterns from previous bans, we can offer some theories as to why these two titles were deemed unfit to screen.

Despite the first "Black Panther" making over $100 million in China back in 2018, its sequel probably got axed because of a small background scene that could be interpreted as "promoting" LGBTQ+ identities. While we won't go into detail on what this scene entails, there is a moment of brief intimacy between two female characters that signal a potential romantic relationship between them. Even though it is a small enough scene that Marvel could theoretically cut it out without messing up the flow of the film, the studio now consistently refuses to cut LGBTQ+ content to appease censors.

The potential reason for the "Black Adam" ban is less about the story of the film, but rather, who is involved in it. In 2020, star Pierce Brosnan, who plays a pivotal role in "Black Adam" as Doctor Fate, posted on Instagram a congratulatory message to the 14th Dalai Lama, Tenzin Gyatso. Per CNN, the Dalai Lama is seen as a betrayer of China due to his advocacy for Tibet's independence from the country.

In the U.S. and several dozen other countries around the world, however, you can see both "Black Panther: Wakanda Forever" and "Black Adam" in theaters now.