A while back when we learned that China would be getting a slightly different version of ‘Iron Man 3’, the rest of the world became curious as to what this extra footage would entail. Director Shane Black and writer Drew Pearce dropped some hints prior to the film’s release and proclaimed that the Chinese moviegoers would be getting “an interesting surprise” with their exclusive extras. Now that the film is playing everywhere, we’ve gotten word of exactly how different the first film of Marvel’s Phase Two is in the Middle Kingdom.

While many were expecting more character development or variations in the plot (or maybe a surprise appearance from Fing Fang Foom), it turns out that the additional footage only clocked in at about four minutes and was mostly product placement. Collider provides a set of bullet points describing this very small addition to the film:

  • When audiences took their seats for the film, they were greeted with the following question: “What does Iron Man rely on to revitalize his energy?” The answer? “Gu Li Duo.”  The first of multiple blatant product placements in the film is for a milk drink that is available for less than $1 a carton in convenience stores across mainland China.
  • Connected to that particular product is a character named Dr. Wu (played by Wang Xueqi) who is seen consuming a carton of Gu Li Duo.
  • Dr. Wu also appears while having a telephone conversation in Chinese from his office in Beijing, while the television behind him shows Iron Man being cheered by schoolchildren in one of the capital’s landmarks.
  • Dr. Wu has one more scene towards the end of the film, having a short conversation with his unnamed assistant (played by Fan Bingbing).
  • Other Chinese-only branding in the extra footage includes shots of Zoomlion (a heavy industry company in China) and some TV sets and mobile phones made by Chinese manufacturer TCL.

Last month when veteran Chinese actor Wang Xueqi opened up about his role, he mentioned that he would not be “a character who’s finished off after a few fights” and that his character would “be the man who saves Tony Stark’s life”. While all of this is fairly true, his role in the regular cut of the film didn’t appear to be as big as all that sounded. So when the subject of the additional footage in the Chinese cut of the film was brought up, many expected him to be involved in a way that would potentially expand on his character and maybe even reveal him to be an upcoming threat to the Armored Avenger in the form of the villainous Chinese scientist Radioactive Man.

Well, none of that seems to be the case. While Xueqi was involved in the extra scenes, neither he nor they really added anything more than a playful nod to the audience of the home country of DMG Entertainment, who teamed up with Marvel Pictures to create ‘Iron Man 3’ as a joint production. It’s a little disappointing to hear that this hyped up extra footage lead to nothing significant, but at least the rest of the world can rest easy knowing that they didn’t really miss out on much by not seeing the Chinese cut of the film.

What do you think about this description of the additional footage? Do you find it necessary to change a film with the sole purpose of catering product placement to that specific market? Do you feel like this is something that studios will continue to do in the future? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

‘Iron Man 3’ starring Robert Downey Jr., Ben Kingsley, Gwyneth Paltrow, Don Cheadle, Rebecca Hall, and Guy Pearce is in theaters now.