There’s going to be more to the alternative Chinese Iron Man 3 than first meets the eye. Indeed, it’s going to be a real milestone in the Marvel Movieverse, providing the first crossover between the “core Marvel movies” and those set up at other studios.
In short, the a change to copyright laws in China mean that Marvel can now use any of their comic book characters in films released over there, and not just those where they retain big-screen rights in the West.
They could go ahead and recast the roles, but to start with at least, they’re teaming up with the rival studios to maintain consistency.
And this all gets going right now. Fan Bingbing is to appear in both Disney’s Iron Man 3 and Fox’s X-Men: Days of Future Past. It hasn’t been announced which character she’ll be playing yet, but I’m sure you have your own ideas. Who fits both continuities and looks like the picture at the head of this post?
Seeing as Fox and Disney are playing nice, expect a Fantastic Four tie-in too. Galactus in a Chinese release of Guardians of the Galaxy? Who knows! The cosmos is the limit.
In theory, this paves the way for Spider-Man to appear in an Avengers sequel… but just in China. As such, he’s unlikely to become a key part of the team, but a nice subplot or even meaty cameo would be well worth Sony and Disney working together for an especially big slice of that ever-expanding Chinese box-office, I’m sure.
Or if Sony don’t want to play along, Marvel just recast the role. They don’t need the agreement of the other studios, just as long as the film is released only in China.