When Iron Man 3 rockets – or, boot repulsor jets, if you want to be technical – into theaters this summer, it won’t just be the Mandarin that the popular cinematic Avenger will have to contend with. No, this time around, he’ll also have to deal with accusations of selling out American interests in the name of product placement, with the Chinese electronics company TCL announcing that its products will be receiving pride of place in the latest Marvel Studios production.
The deal will reportedly see the company’s televisions and mobile technology receiving tons of screen time in the new movie, as well as (according to the Hollywood Reporter) its “cloud technology.” How that can be subtly worked into a movie, short of one character turning to another and commenting on how wonderful TCL’s cloud technology is, remains to be seen. In a statement announcing the partnership between the company and Marvel Studios over product placement, CEO Zhao Zhongyao said that his company “has attached great importance to the collaboration with Hollywood,” and that “though this cross-industry collaboration, we are looking at introducing our latest smart products to consumers from around the world via a wide range of different brand promotion activities associated with the Iron Man 3 theme.”
This kind of product placement in movies is nothing new, of course. As you may recall, James Bond and the various promotions 007 had enjoyed cars, watches, suits, and booze for years. However ,it may provide a particular awkwardness for Marvel to work this deal into its Iron Man mythology, considering Tony Stark’s in-story reputation as not only an armor-wearing super-hero, but also a technologist who invents his own everything. Will the new movie see him suddenly decide to quit that kind of thing, because TCL’s products are just so superior?
Whatever the reason, TCL is confident that having its products show up in the hands of Stark will only help the company’s international footing in the marketplace. “I believe our new generation of products are as good as those from Samsung and Apple,” company co-founder and chairman Tomson Li told Bloomberg News at CES in Las Vegas. “This Iron Man co-operation is very useful for us to promote the TCL brand in the global market, including the U.S. and China.”
Apparently, it isn’t just TCL who’ll enjoy seeing Robert Downey Jr.’s screen alter ego using its products in the movie, either; footage screened in Hong Kong last year reportedly showed Stark using a Samsung camera, something that is more easily explained since Samsung and Disney-Marvel are co-production partners on the movie.
Iron Man 3 is slated to premiere this May.