Spiderman’s Chinese Half-Brother Gets Starring Role

At The Los Angeles Times, Jonathan Landreth reports the awakening of National Film Capital, a Chinese state-run company that has lain dormant since its inception in 2008. Heading its bill of forthcoming releases is The Annihilator, based on a Chinese superhero created by Stan Lee, the father of Spiderman, Iron Man, the Hulk, X-Men and others.

“It will be a 100% Hollywood-China co-production,” Mika said, declining to say how much of the budget would come from NFC and how much would have to come from the Hollywood studio co-production partner he hopes to attract.

Mika said there was also lots of “soft money” from brands interested in being attached to “The Annhilator” — both Chinese brands wanting to go West and Western brands wanting to break into China.

Comic book godfather Lee, now 89 years old, spoke to the news conference in a pretaped video, saying his trip to China (about 10 years ago) was “one of the most wonderful times of my life.”

“Let’s make a Chinese superhero as soon as possible and as magnificently as possible,” Lee said.

Shanghai Daily quoted still more effusive comments from Lee: “I love China and Chinese culture. I have been looking for the chance to cooperate with Chinese movie makers and bring forward Chinese culture to the world. I believe the Chinese superhero will be the best and the most popular superhero loved by people all over the world.”

Given the joint production and Hollywood’s growing eagerness to avoid hurting the feelings of the Chinese people, The Annihilator will likely bear little resemblance to Mandarin, a supervillainous Iron Man adversary whom Lee created with artist Don Heck in 1964. Taking the character’s reins in 2010, writer Matt Fraction commented that “historically, he was the Red Menace/Yellow Peril Antithesis to Tony [(Iron Man) Stark]’s All-American Science Hero …. Now, as time has moved on we’ve sloughed the more jingoistic, racist, and crude details off the guy ….” Responding to rumours last year that Mandarin would be the villain of the film Iron Man 3, director Shane Black dismissed him as “a racist caricature”, though this may have been misdirection: according to persistent speculation, Ben Kingsley has now been cast in the role.