As we reported previously, Iron Man 3, which officially opened in China on Wednesday, features four minutes of footage and two Chinese characters not seen anywhere else in the world. Will the presence of Fan Bingbing and Wang Xueqi in the ‘uncut’ version of the film inspire jealousy among Western fans, stuck as they are with only 10 seconds of Wang? Not really.
For instance, one of the first changes in the Chinese cut takes place before Tony Stark even appears on screen. According to the Hollywood Reporter, the film opens with:
“What does Iron Man rely on to revitalize his energy?”
After a three-second blackout, three big Chinese characters appeared onscreen: “Gu Li Duo.”
Gu Li Duo is a milk drink. Congratulations Chinese moviegoers, you got to see an advert!
Wang Xueqi’s character (who has no spoken lines in the international cut) is also seen to consume a carton of Gu Li Duo during his small amount of (China-exclusive) screen time.
Hollywood Reporter collected some reactions from the Chinese blogosphere:
Chinese bloggers had a mixed reaction to these Chinese components, which they believe are superfluous to the narrative. Referring to Stark being treated by a Chinese doctor in a mix of surgery and acupuncture, blogger Lilijia’s Xiao A-wan said – perhaps mockingly – that the film “has proved that Chinese medicine is still the best!”
Meanwhile, blogger Beijing Ke’er wrote: “The appearance of Yili [the manufacturers of the Gu Li Duo drink] is really shocking. And I don’t know what that Zoomlion [a brand name which appears in a China-only scene] was – and after an online search I realized it’s a heavy industry enterprise in China … the advertisements are the shining lights of the film!”
Slashfilm provided this spoiler-free summary of all the exclusive scenes that the Chinese actors appear in (after the Guo Li Duo advert):
Later in the film Dr. Wu is talking on the phone in his office and behind him, Iron Man is seen on TV playing with school children.
Towards the end of the film, Dr. Wu is performing a task with Stark and has a conversation with his assistant [Fan Bingbing] about it.
Having not seen the film myself (130 minutes is way too long for me to look at Gwyneth Paltrow and Robert Downey Jr’s smug faces) I turned to Kotaku’s Eric Jou to find out whether the Chinese additions added to or took away from his moviegoing experience.
“This whole production is an insult to the intelligence of the Chinese audience perpetrated by the ridiculous co-production regulations set out by SARFT,” Eric told me by IM.
“The Chinese version is a hot mess of poor planning. The addition of Fan Bingbing and Wang Xueqi does absolutely nothing to advance the flow and plot points of the movie, I mean, seriously who the fuck comes to China for heart surgery?”
Jou points out that the crowbarring of Wang’s character into the film actually creates a continuity error between Iron Man 3 and (prequel of sorts) The Avengers. “The teaser/Easter egg [at the end] ties the movie together, otherwise who the heck is Tony Stark talking to? Iron Man isn’t a meta film, he’s obviously regaling someone with the story! And then they throw in a “flash back” of sorts with the Chinese doctor again, who never spoke to Tony in the film. They need to hire new editors.”
Finally: “Fan Bingbing doesn’t do or add anything to the film”.