Marvel to release second version of ‘Iron Man 3’ to appease China’s censorship cop overlords?

The Mandarin Iron Man 3

It wasn’t long ago that Marvel changed the name of Captain America to The First Avenger in places like Russia to make a few million extra bucks. Who needs artistic integrity when something as “meaningless” as the title can be fudged and fiddled with to appease fickle Commies on the other side of the globe?

Well, now Marvel has taken it to a new level. As I was taking a break from enjoying an epic Easter weekend feast with my wife and friends, I read an email from a regular reader on the decision to release a second version of Iron Man 3 for Chinese audiences.

Wired reports:

In an announcement from Marvel Studios today, the company revealed that the Chinese version of the movie will include “significant Chinese elements” created in co-operation with Chinese media company DMG, which is distributing the movie in China.

“Both versions of the film include Iron Man 3 footage filmed in Beijing in December,” the announcement explains, but “the Chinese version of the film will also feature a special appearance of China’s top actress, Fan Bingbing, and will offer specially prepared bonus footage made exclusively for the Chinese audience.”

This is another example of American studios becoming more aware of the importance of China as a foreign market, and with good reason; last year, China became the second largest international market for U.S.-made movies (behind Japan) after box office receipts rose 31 percent to around $2.75 billion, and is expected to overtake the U.S. market by 2020. …

When the news broke of [MGM’s] alternation [to ‘Red Dawn’ to change its villains from the Chinese to North Koreans] last year, one Hollywood producer spoke anonymously to the L.A. Times, calling it “a clear-cut case — maybe the first I can think of in the history of Hollywood — where a foreign country’s censorship board deeply affects what we produce.” It may have been the first, but as today’s Iron Man 3 news suggests, it may not be the last as American studios try to become far more conscious of where the money is these days.

As I said in the comments section of my post on Iron Man 3:

[W]e shouldn’t be censoring ourselves to placate a bunch of Commies thugs. And if we are, that says quite a bit about where we are as a culture.

There is a big difference between being sensitive to a specific culture because a little sensitivity can translate into a large box office take, and making substantive changes to a film to win the approval of a foreign country’s censorship board — particularly when that country is China.

While I can’t imagine Shane “I think the ‘ultimate terrorist’ is an American” Black would have that much editorial snipping to do to make China’s censorship cops happy, what will it mean for future Marvel movies? Or American cinema in general?

How many Americans will actually watch the Mandarin version of Iron Man 3 to make sure the writers and producers aren’t surreptitiously sliming their own country? My bet: not many.

But I promise you this: I will.

Luckily, I have a “good friend” (understatement of the year award) who will obtain the Mandarin version, watch it with me, and translate it. It might take awhile, but once I get my hands on it I will do a review of the Iron Man 3 most Americans will never see.

Is it possible that Fan Bingbing’s role in the movie will be a cameo, at best? Yes. Is it possible that any changes or additions to Iron Man 3 will be rather innocuous? Yes. But that’s not the problem. The problem is the precedent that it sets to be to tailoring movies with serious social commentary to the whims of governments that do not respect freedom of speech, freedom or religion, or freedom of assembly.

Imagine your favorite political song or poem or work of fiction. Now imagine the artist responsible changing the content to get it played on Chinese radio or viewed in Chinese libraries. How would you feel? Pretty depressed? I know I would.

Hollywood’s elite see itself as a collection of talented artists, but they are setting the stage to further prove beyond a shadow of a doubt that they are merely artistic pimps and prostitutes for the highest bidder.

Related: Iron Man 3′s ‘ultimate terrorist’ created by America: Shane Black provides liberalism on stark display

How big of a role will Fan Bingbing play in 'Iron Man 3'? Good question. I plan on finding out.
How big of a role will Fan Bingbing play in Mandarin version of ‘Iron Man 3’? How does the other added content change the film? Good questions. I plan on finding out.

‘Beijing Punk’ exposes the Invisible Fist of fear societies

Demerit Beijing Punk
What happens in China when you want to put out an album that questions the government? You get your album censored and edited until everything you wanted to say is an ambiguous lyrical mish-mash that poses no discernible threat to those who wield power.

Not to long ago I wrote about the strange situation that is Iron Man 3, whereas we find ourselves living in a world where The Mandarin of all characters can no longer be Chinese because cultural sensitivity — to an oppressive Communist regime — and a desire to make a few million more bucks dictates Hollywood’s behavior. And Shane Black’s “ultimate terrorist” is an American or British intelligent agent gone rogue. How original.

Given that America has a level of political and economic freedom that has historically been head-and-shoulders above the rest of the world, I find it odd that the “ultimate terrorist” would originate from one of the 50 states. Mr. Black is entitled to his opinion just like anyone else, but it would be refreshing if more directors were like Shaun Jefford, who actually has the courage to show the truth about our Communist “friends” on the other side of the globe.

Beijing Punk is a documentary about freedom. Period. It’s about the human spirit, which yearns to be free. It’s about individuals who are censored and oppressed and constrained by the government, but who inherently know that they are being robbed of the ability to fully pursue their hopes and dreams. Individuals can be poor and uneducated, and yet still make a stirring case for individual liberty because no amount of censorship or state-approved rhetoric can hide ideological shackles. Those who wear them will always scream out in defiance — in this case it’s through punk music.

Jefford’s film centers around a few Chinese punk bands who play at D-22, the CBGB’s on Beijing. Owner Michael Pettis and booking agent Nevin Domer are superb choices to include in the film, and equally articulate spokesmen for the importance of what D-22 is trying to achieve.

First, Pettis on the music.

“I speak to a lot of critics from the U.S. and from Europe who when they came here are always astonished by the freshness of the scene. And there was an English critic who said, ‘You know, in England there is nothing you can do that doesn’t have a huge history behind it. Whatever you do, someone has already done it. What ever you think, someone has thought it, and that becomes a huge weight on top of everything.’ And in China you don’t feel that at all. So you’ll have kids who are discovering Phil Ochs and Stravinsky and Velvet Underground at the same time. And so it’s like opening this enormous toy store to all these kids and rushing and and everything is interesting and everything is exciting.”

China Population Control
Population control — in more ways than one. Now smile for this advertisement like we put a Happy-Happy, Joy-Joy helmet on your head or we’ll make your life a living hell.

Next we have Nevin Domer on Chinese censorship:

Nevin Domer: The General is deciding they don’t like the lyrics [to the new Demerit album] and they’re deciding they don’t want to publish it. Both of these albums should have been printed last week in order to be done for the release show. Tonight was the night that we really needed to go to press. We won’t go into what all of these songs talk about. And Demerit, some of their lyrics are slightly risqué. I’d rather not talk too much about what the lyrics mean on film. The more ambiguous we can be with government officials the safer it is. I guess I just thought we could get away with pushing through whatever we want. We put through ‘Car Sick Cars’ and they have songs about cocaine and mushrooms. That’s all I want to say about that album for now.”

Sound mixer: We have translations quite clear, quite clean. The General has cancelled some words. We still have some problems because of the Olympics. Everything is more controlled.

Nevin Domer: Can we do it today?

Sound mixer: Don’t worry about that.

Nevin Domer: It’s always like this.

Sound mixer: In China, it’s always some surprise.

It turns out that Mr. Domer said a little too much (his home was raided multiple times after Beijing Punk came out). Or maybe simply agreeing to take part in the film is what set the authorities off. Who knows. The point is, he had the audacity to think for himself.

As Lei Jun of the band Mi San Dao explains, free speech isn’t a right that is honored in China:

Lei Jun: You don’t have too much freedom because the government will say, ‘You do this, you don’t do this. Don’t speak this, you speak this.’ Yeah. It’s dangerous to talk. For them you can’t speak punk on the TV. Also you can’t speak skinhead. Also you can’t speak government bad and about the Olympics or too much building. Nothing. You just speak, ‘Oh, we have a good day, every day. We love China. We love the Olympics.’ … It’s different because in China the Chairman say something, all the people need to agree. It’s not like America. He can do what he want. He’s like the animal king. The animals are not like people. For like a monkey? A lot of monkeys, the monkey can do everything.

Shaun Jefford: So you honestly just said the Chairman job is a lot like a monkey king?

Lei Jun: Yeah. Yeah. Maybe…

Lie Jun then provides an interesting anecdote that Hollywood directors like Shane Black could appreciate; China is a lot like a Stanley Kubrick film:

“If you take the hash or weed in your pocket and the police see you, you’re going to the Chinese special name place. It’s like a hospital, but it’s not a hospital. It’s more bad than jail.  … A lot of young men, more students, they drink too much codeine syrup and maybe two died.  So the government they make the new special operation. The doctors from the Army, the put the boy on the bed and after you take off, you take a lot of things from the brain. After you will never drink codeine syrup. They take off your memory about this. Not memory. For example you like drink beer? They take this, after afterwards, you don’t like beer. They can change your hobby. Yeah. I think it’s like a Clockwork Orange, you know? The first time I saw it I said:”It’s a true Clockwork Orange in China!” (Lei Jun).

Let’s assume Lei was misinformed about the “special” jails and the strange operations. Let’s assume he is the victim of a rumor mill on overdrive. Can you blame him? He lives in an oppressive police state. (Sadly, it takes blind lawyer Chen Guangcheng and other fearless individuals to show gullible Americans the truth.)

Perhaps most striking about Beijing Punk is that each band shies away from giving itself any sort of political label, and instead ops to say it is merely on the side of “freedom.” It doesn’t take a college education to know the difference between the invisible hand of free market economics — guiding individuals through countless voluntary and mutually beneficial transactions each day — and the invisible fist of a fear society pounding your psyche and your soul into the ground.

Observe the following exchange between Jefford and Li Yang of Demerit on China’s “one child” policy:

Li Yang: We are not political. Just about freedom.

Shaun Jefford: But freedom is political.

Li Yang: We think in a different place. Just from … [W]e don’t know the deeper meaning of politics …

As I said before, here in America political parties have disappointed us. And when you boil it down, it’s all about freedom vs. tyranny.

Which side are you on? Beijing Punk is clearly on the side of freedom. Check it out if you get the chance.

Chinese Army
There are free societies and there are fear societies. Shaun Jefford’s ‘Beijing Punk’ uses the trials and tribulations of Chinese musicians to artfully expose a fear society.

Iron Man 3’s ‘ultimate terrorist’ created by America: Shane Black provides liberalism on stark display

Iron Man 3 The Mandarin
If you had to bet on who was responsible for creating ‘The Mandarin’ in ‘Iron Man 3,’ who would it be? If you guessed the U.S. government, congratulations. However, it doesn’t take a billionaire-genius philanthropist to predict Hollywood plot lines. It just takes intellectual honesty. (Image: YouTube)

The new Iron Man 3 trailer is out, and it looks amazing. But looks can be deceiving, can’t they? What appears to be one hell of a movie might also be incredibly maddening, when one realizes that once again the bad guy — the “ultimate terrorist” to quote writer/director Shane Black — is really a creation of the U.S. government.

Iron Man started out so well, but ultimately the question becomes: “Where is he going?” In Hollywood, it’s only a matter of time before the star character goes to a place where America, at its root, is the creator of the evil it seeks to destroy.

Robert Downy Jr. sets the stage via Superhero Hype:

Q: We’ve seen Tony Stark go through a lot in “The Avengers.” How did the events of that movie wind up helping him change for this one?

Downey: Well, we had to do something, you know? I thought, “Isn’t it odd that he had this experience? And why was he suddenly just in New York for one summer?” We know why he was there. Stark Tower. But what he was doing there was really building an architect for a third act set piece. I wanted him back home and I thought, “What if that happened to any of us? Wouldn’t we be a little tripped out? You’d be watching your back.” Then I thought about this 21st century reality and kind of oddball zeitgeist of America and terrorism and all the weirdo stuff that this country seems to generate and co-create. So I thought he should be a little freaked out.

Hmm. The United States “generates” and “co-creates” terrorism? How so, Robert? If he’s saying evil must exist because good does, then I understand what he’s saying. If he’s saying that good men like Tony Stark create wonderful technology, but because of the warped timber of man others will use that technology for nefarious purposes, I get it. But if Robert is pandering to the “blame America first” crowd, then I just lost a lot of respect for him because it’s expected of Hollywood at this point.

As I wrote in October, Shane Black is a great writer and seems to understand that Tony Stark needs to be grounded this time around. But I also warned of exactly what appears to have happened:

[I]f the U.S. government is somehow culpable for the espionage that destroys Tony’s life, the movie will instantly lose credibility. If the message ends up being some sort of social commentary on how “one man’s terrorist is another man’s freedom fighter,” I  probably won’t be seeing Iron Man 4 in the theaters.

As it turns out, RDJ was much more Joesph Conrad than Loazi. Disappointing. Incredibly disappointing. Read Shane Black’s inspiration for The Mandarin:

We use as the example Colonel Kurtz from “Apocalypse Now,” this guy who may have been an American, may have been a British National, someone who is out there doing field work, supervising atrocities for the intelligence community who went nuts in the field and became this sort of devotee of war tactics, and now has surrounded himself with a group of people over which he presides, and the only thing that unifies them is this hatred of America. So he’s the ultimate terrorist, but he’s also savvy. He’s been in the intelligence world. He knows how to use the media. And taking it to a real world level like that was a lot fun for us.

Screw you, Shane Black, Kevin Feige, Robert Downey Jr. and Marvel. Screw everyone else associated with the product who thinks that the “ultimate terrorist” is, for the 10,000th time, a Western intelligence agent who was the product of his own country’s dark side. Besides, I just watched another iteration of this plot a couple months ago; it was called Skyfall.

Have we reached the point where a movie with a villain named The Mandarin can’t be a Communist revolutionary from China? Given that the recent Red Dawn remake changed the villains from Chinese Communists to North Koreans to placate the guys who are gobbling up the nation’s debt, I guess so.

At this point, I’ll probably see Iron Man 3 just to tease out whatever ‘Heart of Darkness’ themes Shane Black didn’t get a chance to discuss in promotional interviews, but no matter how stellar the movie is I won’t be able to shake the disgust over another “creative” team that turned to the “America is its own worst enemy” well when it was thirsty for ideas.

Behold: Liberalism on stark display.

Related: Lone Avenger: Robert Downey Jr. soars above his liberal critics
Related: Robert Downey Jr.’s politics: A lesson for liberal Hulks

Iron Man 3 trailer delivers — Shane Black gets dark

Tony Stark is a great character, but it appears as though the guy with the chip on his shoulder is going to have it knocked off — hard — in Iron Man 3. If that is the route Shane Black goes, audiences might just get the best Iron Man appearance yet.

Iron Man 2 was a decent super hero flick. It was fine … but when one compares it to the first installment or The Avengers, it’s glaringly obvious that the studio rushed a half-baked product to the market. The only thing that saved Iron Man 2 was Robert Downey Jr’s pitch-perfect understanding of the character. Marvel will be under a great deal of pressure to get the ship righted, but after seeing the first trailer for Iron Man 3, it appears as though they might have succeeded.

The problem with Tony Stark (billionaire, philanthropist, playboy), is that even though he’s that cocky genius-bastard you can’t help but love, after three movies of his wise cracks, at some point the character needs to be grounded. He needs to be humbled. He needs to face something that takes the smirk off his face and makes him reassess who he is and what’s important to him. I’ve said since day one that bringing on Shane Black, who did a wonderful job with Kiss, Kiss, Bang Bang, was a smart move. Black is more than capable of directing strong action sequences, and he’s shown that he could write witty, compelling, complex characters. Marvel did itself a favor by bringing him on board.

With that said, the only thing that could derail Iron Man 3 for me will be politics. (I can tolerate Gweneth Paltrow’s “I’m just here for a paycheck” performances, although I hope she gracefully exits after her contract is up.) Marvel has a bad habit of flirting with liberalism in its products — even subjecting Tony Stark to weird Bush-Cheney warmonger allegories. While it’s been said that the new movie was going to be inspired by Tom Clancy — who is most definitely conservative — I wouldn’t put it past them to sully the series with politically correct gobbledygook.

Case in point: Iron Patriot.

Will the Iron Patriot be a good guy or a bad guy? Good question.

Without spoiling things for fans who don’t read the comics, the Iron Patriot’s mere presence raises questions. Who will be in the suit? Is he a good guy or is he a bad guy? Will the calamities that befall Tony Stark be solely the work of The Mandarin, or will shady actors within the U.S. government somehow be to blame?

Take, for instance, the trailer’s narrator, who says:

Ladies. Children. Sheep. Some people call me a terrorist; I consider myself a teacher. Lesson number one: Heroes — there is no such thing.

If the Iron Patriot is somehow involved with the Mandarin or if the U.S. government is somehow culpable for the espionage that destroys Tony’s life, the movie will instantly lose credibility. If the message ends up being some sort of social commentary on how “one man’s terrorist is another man’s freedom fighter,” I probably won’t be seeing Iron Man 4 in the theaters.

Regardless, I had my doubts about The Avengers and ended up being pleasantly surprised. I’m cautiously optimistic that the creators of Iron Man 3 are drawing from the same successful formula.
Related: Iron Man is America
Related: Robert Downey Jr.’s politics: A lesson for liberal Hulks
Related: Lone Avenger: Robert Downey Jr. soars above his liberal critics

Iron Man 3 gets the Tom Clancy treatment

The word is out: Iron Man 3 is going to have more Tom Clancy and less Rock ’em Sock ’em Robots. Robert Downy Jr. is almost always amazing and so is the character of Iron Man (when he’s done right), so this is probably good news. The problem is, Marvel has a track record of sometimes allowing liberal claptrap to soak into its products. Sometimes, as with Summer 2011’s Captain America, they succeed despite their best efforts at self-sabotage. Due to this, let us revisit a Tom Clancy interview with Charlie Rose to get an accurate glimpse of who the man is and what he’s stands for:

Tom Clancy on Iraq: I think we won. Look, the real world is not digital, it’s analog. That means it’s fundamentally untidy. And so, the Iraq situation is going to remain untidy for quite some time to come. At the end of it Iraq is going to be a free democratic society, and that’s a win for us and for the whole world…. Democracy works. America has proven that to the world. Now some parts of the world are a little retarded on that, like China, North Korea and a few others. But democracy and the American model works better than any system in the world.

Tom Clancy on The French: [They’re] like a big sister. They think they know better than us, but we’re the one’s who made the money. They’re offended we don’t take their advice. Well, tough world. We’ve grown beyond that. … They eat McDonald’s, but they burn the places down. They ask Walt Disney to invest in their country, but then when it’s done they call it a cultural Chernobyl. … It’s a love/hate relationship. When the Germans are making noise, they love us.

Tom Clancy on terrorism: The first line of defense against any foe, particularly terrorists, is intelligence information, which means human intelligence, which means the operation starts with the CIA … that was hammered by Frank Church in the early 70’s and then the Jimmy Carter administration in the late 70’s. … Our ability to do [gain intelligence] was gutted almost 30 years ago … The CIA is an agency of about 17,000 people, of whom maybe 500 are field spooks. That’s a big tail on not a big dog. We threw away a lot of our human intelligence capabilities over 20 years ago, and although we’re just now starting to hire people and bring those people back it takes awhile to bring that capability back, it takes upwards of five years for these guys to be effective officers. Just because we’re funding it now, it’s not like flipping on a light switch. It takes time. Some terrorists organizations are actually family members, and it’s kind of hard to infiltrate a family. And the other thing that members of Congress have trouble with is, quite simply if you want to go down a rat hole you better have some whiskers, and they don’t want any good, upstanding Americans to have whiskers. …

The FBI had an agent named Joe Pistone who infiltrated the mafia. And he wrote a book about it titled Donny Brosco … and he got in so far that he almost became a made man, at which point there was a collective panic when the Director looked up and said, “How do we tell a federal district court judge that a sworn Special Agent in the FBI is now a made man in the mafia?” And that’s when they had to cut the information off, and we got a lot of useful information. That’s what the CIA does, but on an international basis…and it’s vital to get that information. The way you get that information might not be aesthetically pleasing, but the real world, contrary to what a lot of people on the political left think,  is not the Olympic skating championships.

Got that, Marvel? Tom Clancy is not liberal. He’s a very successful writer who doesn’t fill books with politically correct pap. If you’re going to allow Director Shane Black go on record with the Clancy-plan, then there’s no going back. However, since Black also directed Robert Downy Jr. in Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang (a severely underrated movie), I’ll give him the benefit of the doubt.

For all of us who can’t wait for Iron Man 3, at least The Avengers will tide us over.