[TW: violent imagery reproduced below.]
In America, competition between the Marvel Cinematic Universe and the DC Extended Universe is a fierce, but largely bloodless sport. In China, however, it appears that violence is not entirely off the table.
In one of the stranger news items for this week, a number of websites and movie theaters in China are promoting WB’s Justice League film using an edited version of one of the standard promotional images that depicts the movie’s six main heroes standing united. The image below, originally uploaded to the Chinese social media site Weibo and later posted to Reddit, depicts a number of Marvel characters being killed by the JL. Wonder Woman’s sword is piercing Logan’s chest. Batman is holding Thor’s severed head as a trophy. Aquaman has skewered Deadpool and Iron Man’s armor lies buried in the dirt.
The origin of this edited image is currently unknown, but the video hosting site iQiyi, who has done official promotional videos for Justice League, has used it on their site. The image has also appeared in massive form on the elevator doors of some multiplexes.
Weibo users have reported seeing the image on theater displays and on the ticketing site for Wanda Cinema, one of the major cineplex chains in China:
There’s no word as to whether DC or Warner Bros ever authorized the usage of this edited image in promotion of Justice League (we imagine that they wouldn’t have and that this is an instance of “ask for forgiveness rather than permission”). Either way, never under-estimate the power of a person with a marketing budget and access to Adobe tools.