LOS ANGELES - Superhero movie Doctor Strange In The Multiverse Of Madness is facing a backlash in China over a scene in which a newspaper kiosk bears the Chinese characters for The Epoch Times, a media company which opposes the Chinese Communist Party.
While there were initially hopes that the Marvel sequel to 2016's Doctor Strange would be released in China, netizens have been up in arms over the blink-and-you-will-miss-it scene from previews of the film, which is currently being reviewed by the Chinese authorities.
According to entertainment portal Deadline, movie studio Disney is not commenting on the matter.
The Chinese Communist Party's English-language tabloid, Global Times, published an opinion piece on May 1, Insulting China? No, Doctor Strange 2 Is Shaming United States And Hollywood.
In it, the writer with the byline Frank Bro linked The Epoch Times to the Falun Gong religious movement and wrote: "After the exposure of such a controversy, it is unknown whether Marvel Studios will remove the Falun Gong element from the film. But no matter what it chooses to do, it has almost no impact on China.
"After all, it will only be a matter of one more or one less US movie in the Chinese market."
Marvel movies have not been released in China since 2019's Avengers: Endgame, despite the superhero movies being wildly popular.
Pandemic-era blockbuster releases such as Black Widow, Eternals, Shang-Chi And The Legend Of The Ten Rings, Venom: Let There Be Carnage and Spider-Man: No Way Home were not shown in Chinese cinemas.
The highly anticipated Doctor Strange sequel, with British actor Benedict Cumberbatch reprising his titular role, opens in Singapore later this week.