Connect with us

China Arts & Entertainment

The New Superman is Chinese

A new Superman comic book series by DC Comics is coming out. No Clark Kent this time, but teenager Kenji Kong – a young Chinese superhero with a Japanese name.

Avatar

Published

on

A new Superman comic book series by DC Comics is coming out. No Clark Kent this time, but teenager Kenji Kong – a young Chinese superhero with a Japanese name.

It is no secret that the superhero DC and Marvel comic book universes are not as ethnically diverse as the real world. There have been few well-known Chinese protagonists in the superhero cosmos. At the moment, most of the Chinese characters found in the DC and Marvel comics universe are either a supervillain or a supporting character. For many comic book readers, the most memorable Chinese character in the comic book universe is the Chinese supervillain Mandarin from Iron Man.

The comic book universe generally lacks characters with a Chinese background, or Asian characters at large. But over the past decade, the comic book world has been creating more characters that would be more appealing to Chinese audiences. In 2006, DC made their way into the hearts of Chinese comic book readers with the fourth super-hero Atom, hero Ryan Choi of Hong Kong origin. Unfortunately, Ryan Choi only appeared in 78 issues before being erased from the DC universe by assassin Deathstroke.

ryanchoiSuperhero Ryan Choi is from Hong Kong.

Hoping to attract a larger fan base within China, DC seems to have taken an even bolder step by giving the mantel of “Superman” to a Chinese teenager. A Chinese Superman with a name that sounds more Japanese than Chinese.

According to NBC News, DC recently announced a new comic series called New Superman at WonderCon 2016. DC Comics tweeted about the upcoming comic series on March 29. It will be written by Chinese-American Gene Luen Yang (杨谨伦) and illustrated by Victor Bodganovich.

Yang is famous for writing the award-winning 2006 graphic novel “American Born Chinese”.He went on to pen many other well-known graphic novels including Level UpBoxer and Saints and Avatar: The Last Airbender. More recently, Yang wrote the last 10 issues of Superman.

The story in New Superman will be about a 17 year-old teenager named Kenji Kong (孔恳记). The story of Kenji Kong will be different from that of Clark Kent, the original Superman. Unlike Clark Kent, Kenji is born on Earth with no superpowers, but then inherits Superman’s powers when he is a teenager. Another big difference is that New Superman will take place in the real city of modern-day Shanghai.

According to South China Morning Post, Yang has stated that Kenji will “start off as a jerk”, but then matures as his new-found superpowers affect him both physically and emotionally.

DC has not made it clear if Kenji Kong is intended to appeal to Chinese audiences. The introduction of a Chinese Superman can be seen as part of an ongoing movement in the comic book industry that sees to create more multi-cultural superheroes. The newest incarnation of the Incredible Hulk, for example, is of Korean descent.

There has already been some scrutiny over New Superman on social media sites and discussion boards around the web. “I love this. But why is a guy from Shanghai named Kenji? It’s a Japanese name,” commented @YuanSerenaP on Yang’s Twitter account.

“Does he understand China? He’s not afraid of being criticized?” one other netizen said on Sina Weibo.

The first issue of New Superman is set to be released on July 13, so there is still time for Yang to make some improvements. Let’s just hope that Kenji Kong will be just as awesome as the original Chinese SupermanSuper Inframan (中国超人).

sprman1975 movie on kung-fu superhero Super Inframan

By Chi Wen

Images:
– featured image tweeted by DC Comics.
Hong Kong hero Ryan Choi

©2016 Whatsonweibo. All rights reserved. Do not reproduce our content without permission – you can contact us at info@whatsonweibo.com

Chi Wen is a freelance translator and writer who lives in Kaohsiung, Taiwan. Besides translating and writing, he also teaches English as a Second Language to high school students. Chi is a self-proclaimed geek with a love for video games.

Continue Reading
1 Comment

1 Comment

  1. Avatar

    Guest

    April 8, 2016 at 9:52 pm

    Not sure what’s the focus. “Kenji” isn’t used here as a given name, so the Japanese association is invalid. Instead, it is clearly used as an Anglicized forename, eg. “Sherlock” Holmes, “Homer” Simpson, “Remington” Steele, etc. In fact, it’s already a relatively familiar choice among overseas Chinese: 3 Taiwanese celebs (吳克群, 陈子胤, 林学楷) adopted it; ditto some Hong Kong commoners I’ve come across. There is even a fairly well-known hairstylist duo in Singapore called Benji & Kenji. If they want, DC comics can profile “Kenji Kong” as, say, a 21st-century Westernized descendant of Confucius (Kongfuzi).

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

China Celebs

Chinese Comedian Li Dan under Fire for Promoting Lingerie Brand with Sexist Slogan

Underwear so good that it can “help women lie to win in the workplace”? Sexist and offensive, according to many Weibo users.

Manya Koetse

Published

on

Popular talk show host and comedian Li Dan (李诞) has sparked controversy on Chinese social media this week for a statement he made while promoting female underwear brand Ubras.

The statement was “让女性轻松躺赢职场”, which loosely translates to “make it easy for women to win in the workplace lying down” or “make women win over the workplace without doing anything,” a slogan with which Li Dan seemed to imply that women could use their body and sex to their advantage at work. According to the underwear brand, the idea allegedly was to convey how comfortable their bras are. (The full sentence being “一个让女性躺赢职场的装备”: “equipment that can help women lie to win in the workplace”).

Li Dan immediately triggered anger among Chinese netizens after the controversial content was posted on his Weibo page on February 24. Not only did many people feel that it was inappropriate for a male celebrity to promote female underwear, they also took offense at the statement. What do lingerie and workplace success have to do with each other at all, many people wondered. Others also thought the wording was ambiguous on purpose, and was still meant in a sexist way.

Various state media outlets covered the incident, including the English-language Global Times.

By now, the Ubras underwear brand has issued an apology on Weibo for the “inappropriate wording” in their promotion campaign, and all related content has been removed.

The brand still suggested that the slogan was not meant in a sexist way, writing: “Ubras is a women’s team-oriented brand. We’ve always stressed ‘comfort and wearability as the essence of [our] lingerie, and we’re committed to providing women with close-fitting clothing solutions that are unrestrained and more comfortable so that more women can deal with fatigue in their life and work with a more relaxed state of mind and body.”

Li Dan also wrote an apology on Weibo on February 25, saying his statement was inappropriate. Li Dan has over 9 million followers on his Weibo account.

The objectification of women by brands and media has been getting more attention on Chinese social media lately. Earlier this month, the Spring Festival Gala was criticized for including jokes and sketches that were deemed insensitive to women. Last month, an ad by Purcotton also sparked controversy for showing a woman wiping away her makeup to scare off a male stalker, with many finding the ad sexist and hurtful to women.

 
By Manya Koetse
with contributions by Miranda Barnes

Spotted a mistake or want to add something? Please let us know in comments below or email us. First-time commenters, please be patient – we will have to manually approve your comment before it appears.

©2021 Whatsonweibo. All rights reserved. Do not reproduce our content without permission – you can contact us at info@whatsonweibo.com.

Continue Reading

China Memes & Viral

“Hi, Mom!” Box Office Hit Sparks ‘When My Mum Was Younger’ Trend on Weibo

The touching Chinese hit movie “Hi, Mom” has sparked an emotional trend on Weibo.

Manya Koetse

Published

on

The movie Hi, Mom is all the rage in China, where social media is flooding with hashtags, photos, and texts celebrating moms and the bond between mothers and daughters. One big discussion is focused on all the things daughters would tell their younger moms: “Please don’t marry dad.”

If you could travel back in time and meet your mum before she had you, what would you say to her? What would you do?

This question is the idea behind Hi, Mom (Chinese title Hi, Li Huanying 你好,李焕英), the box office favorite in China this Spring Festival. The movie is directed by Jia Ling (贾玲), who also plays the female protagonist. For comedian Jia Ling, who is mostly known for her sketches during the Spring Festival Gala, this movie is her directorial debut.

Hi, Mom tells the story of Jia Xiaoling (Jia Ling) who is devastated when her mother Li Huanying has a serious accident one day. Jia is especially grief-stricken because she feels she has not become the daughter she wanted to be for her mother. When she finds herself transported back in time to the year 1981, she meets her young mother before she was her mum, and becomes her friend in the hopes of making her happy and change her life for the better.

From the movie “Hi, Mom”

Li Huanying is also the name of Jia Ling’s own mother, who passed away when Jia was just 19 years old. Jia Ling reportedly did not make the movie because she wanted to be a director, but because she wanted to tell her mother’s story.

The film has become super popular since its debut on February 12 and raked in 2.6 billion yuan (over $400 million) within five days. On day five alone, the movie earned $90 million.

The movie has sparked various trends on Chinese social media. One of them is an online ‘challenge’ for daughters to post pictures of mothers when they were young. The hashtag “Photo of My Mother When She Was Young” (#妈妈年轻时的照片#) received 120 million views on Weibo by Wednesday. Another hashtag used for this ‘challenge’ is “This is My Li Huanying” (#这是我的李焕英#). The hashtags have motivated thousands of netizens to post photos of their mother before she became a mom.

The trend has not just sparked an online movement to celebrate and appreciate mothers – it also offers an intimate glance into the lives of Chinese older women and shows just how different the times were when they were young. This also gave many daughters a new appreciation of their mothers.

“I used to have many wishes,” one female Weibo user wrote: “But now I just hope to make my mum happy.” Others praised their mother’s beauty (“My mum is so pretty!”) and said that they are proud to look like their mom, although some also complained that they had not inherited their mother’s looks.

The trend has also provided an opportunity for a moment of self-reflection for some. Seeing the unedited photos of their younger mothers, some called on female web users to stop losing themselves in ‘beautifying’ photo apps that alter their facial features, saying they will not have normal photos of themselves in the future that show their true (and unedited) natural beauty.

 

“Don’t marry dad, don’t believe his sweet talk.”

 

There is also another hashtag trending in light of Hi, Mum. It is “If You Could Go Back to Before Your Mum Married” (#如果穿越回妈妈结婚前#) and started with one popular fashion influencer (@一扣酥) asking her followers what they would want to tell her.

“Don’t marry dad. Don’t believe his sweet talk,” one person replied, with many others also writing that they would want to tell their younger mom not to marry their fathers: “I would tell her to look for someone who loves her, and not for someone she loves,” one person responded.

“Please leave dad,” another Weibo user writes, adding that her father drank too much and would hit her mother.

“Don’t feel like you need to marry because you’re older,” another daughter writes: “Don’t get into a ‘lightning wedding’ and don’t care so much about what other people say.”

“Live for yourself for once,” a blogger named ‘Zhi Zhi El’ wrote, with another young woman named Yumiko writing: “Don’t close your bookshop, be independent and confident, don’t listen to everything dad says, and don’t become a housewife.”

But there are also those who are happy with the way things turned out: “Mum! Marry dad! He’s good!”

In the end, most commenters just want one thing. As this Weibo user (@·__弑天) writes: “Mum, I just hope you have a happy life.”

 
By Manya Koetse
with contributions by Miranda Barnes

Spotted a mistake or want to add something? Please let us know in comments below or email us. First-time commenters, please be patient – we will have to manually approve your comment before it appears.

©2021 Whatsonweibo. All rights reserved. Do not reproduce our content without permission – you can contact us at info@whatsonweibo.com.

Continue Reading
Advertisement
Advertisement

Support What’s on Weibo

If you enjoy What’s on Weibo and support the way we report the latest trends in China, you could consider becoming a What's on Weibo patron:
Donate

Facebook

Advertisement

Contribute

Got any tips? Or want to become a contributor or intern at What's on Weibo? Email us as at info@whatsonweibo.com.

Popular Reads