Black Panther: Wakanda Forever may be receiving positive reviews from critics and fans, but the MCU sequel's on-screen depiction of gay characters will likely lead to a ban in one of Hollywood's major markets.
In the weeks leading up to its release, the Black Panther sequel already faced cancellation concerns in France, mainly due to a law requiring theatrically-released movies to wait 17 months before releasing on a subscription-based streaming platform.
However, Disney's official statement on the matter revealed that Black Panther 2 will still be released in theaters in France; the studio then clarified that it won't be available on Disney+ until Spring 2024 "due to the current windowing framework."
Now, another potential release hiccup for the sequel emerged that could affect its box office performance.
Black Panther 2 Faces Potential Ban in China
The Hollywood Reporter (THR) shared that Black Panther: Wakanda Forever will not be released in China due to the sequel's brief depiction of openly gay characters.
Moreover, THR noted that its sources working in the Chinese industry believe that both Black Panther 2 and Dwayne Johnson's Black Adam have "little chance of winning approval" from the censorship committee of China.
China has been a major market for Hollywood's box office in the past, with much of the worldwide earnings for movies coming from it. Matthew Ball's report revealed that the five-movie run starting from Avengers: Infinity War and ending with Spider-Man: Far From Home generated 19% of global revenue.
In the film, Michaela Coel's Wakandan warrior Aneka is in a romantic relationship with Dora Milaje member Ayo, who is played by Florence Kasumba.
Last October, Coel previously revealed that her character being queer is what sold her on the role of Aneka in Wakanda Forever.
This isn't the first time that an MCU film was banned in another country. Just recently, Thor: Love and Thunder wasn't released in the Middle East due to scenes including gay characters.
How Will China's Ban Affect Black Panther's Box Office?
Black Panther: Wakanda Forever has a tall order of paying tribute to the late Chadwick Boseman while still continuing the franchise’s legacy. Part of this act of moving forward is through pushing for more on-screen representation, such as the LGBTQIA+ characters.
However, the censorship mandate of other countries has made it difficult for LGBTQIA+ representation to thrive on-screen. This latest report further cemented that fact since China appears to be leaning toward the direction of completely shutting down Black Panther 2's release in their territory.
While China has a solid track record in terms of box office haul, the first Black Panther movie earned $105 million in total sales in the country compared to its $700 million domestic earnings. This means that the Black Panther franchise's total box office heavily relied on the United States.
Early box office projections for Wakanda Forever predicted the sequel to gross $423.5 million at the domestic box office, indicating that a solid haul is in the cards for the Phase 4 ender.
Although it's unfortunate that Wakanda Forever will not be released in China, Marvel and Disney seem to be holding their ground in not cutting out the LGBTQIA+ portrayal, which serves as a good sign for the conversation surrounding representation moving forward.
Black Panther: Wakanda Forever is now playing in theaters worldwide.