Any and all Marvel fans that may have been seething with rage over the fact that the Chinese release of "Iron Man 3" runs 'round three minutes longer than the U.S. version are in luck: the additional footage will make its way into an upcoming short film, according to The Hollywood Reporter.
There are currently no plans as to how the short film, which currently has the working title of "The Prologue," will be released, though it's highly likely that it will be featured on the future Blu-ray/DVD release of "Iron Man 3."
The extra scenes, produced exclusively for the version of "Iron Man 3" shown in Chinese theaters, mostly revolve around the character of Dr. Wu (Wang Xueqi), who is seen briefly in the opening sequence of the U.S. version. In the Chinese release, Dr. Wu also has a scene where he engages in a telephone conversation of Tony Stark's A.I. sidekick, Jarvis, and a scene in which he performs acupuncture-aided surgery on the wounded Stark, with the help of an assistant played by Fan Bingbing.
The additional footage is apparently nothing to get too excited about, though, as several Chinese bloggers have felt the scenes are superfluous to the narrative. The Chinese version of the film also opens with a bizarre bit of product placement as a title screen asks "“What does Iron Man rely on to revitalize his energy?," which is followed by a shot of Dr. Wu drinking Gu Li Duo, a popular Chinese milk beverage ... a brazen and somewhat awkward bit of product placement, to say the least.
The collaboration between Marvel Studios and Chinese production company DEG has been something of an uneasy one on "Iron Man 3," as the two companies have reportedly been at odds in nearly every aspect of the film's development.
"For example, about the Chinese version of the film -- it's us who fought loudly in getting them to shoot a scene at the Yongdingmen gate in Beijing,” said DMG CEO Wu Bing in an interview with the Shenzhen Evening News. "We spent so much manpower and money on it, and we had equipment we don't have here in Beijing to be brought over from Hollywood. [Marvel executives] thought there's no need to shoot in Beijing, but I think it's very necessary for the film to showcase the skyscrapers of modern Beijing ... and not the impression of China [that] foreign audiences had with [Bernardo Bertolucci's] 'The Last Emperor' and [Zhang Yimou's] 'Raise the Red Lantern.'"
That scene was shot and features Iron Man launching into the sky to the delight of several schoolchildren, but it's only seen in the background on the television in Dr. Wu's office.
Despite the uneasy relationship between Marvel and DMG and the mixed-at-best responses to the Chinese-only footage, "Iron Man 3" is breaking box office records in China, taking in $64.3 million in its first five days of release and earning to date a total of $78.6 million. Expectations are that the film will come in second to "Avatar," the all-time Chinese box office champion, which earned $224.7 million.
Meanwhile, back in the U.S., "Iron Man 3" has earned over $196 million in its first five days of release for a total of over $740 million worldwide and is expected to break $1 billion by the end of this upcoming weekend ... if not before.
The cast of 'Iron Man 3' talks with Yahoo! Movies: