in Translation

The highly anticipated Avengers: Age of Ultron has left movie-goers in China with a range of emotions, ranging from confusion to irritation, and for some even resulting in waterworks. The bafflement, however, is not regarding the movie itself, but rather in the translation of it. As some of the translations are being released online, it’s easy to pinpoint where the complaints and tears are coming from.


The once commonly used dubbing is now replaced by subtitles, which allow the audience to both hear the original audio and read what is being said below. While this is usually a convenience for those able to follow along with both forms of language, attendees of the Avengers premiere in China could not say the same. They were able to witness “I’m home” being translated to “I’m good,” a cringeworthy, but tame mishap when compared to what was to follow.  The superheroes with exquisite fighting skills were anything but inspiring when Captain America’s uplifting line “you get hurt, hurt ‘em back. You get killed…walk it off” was translated to the rather cowardly, “run fast if someone tries to kill you.”

The Chinese subtitles in the Avengers were also seemingly in a hurry to put a quick end to the movie. In a scene where the Avengers are struggling against their enemy, Iron Man is heard saying, “We may not make it out of this.” This is clearly not a sign of defeat, but rather an acknowledgment of the complicated situation the superheroes have found themselves in. The explanations on the bottom of the screen, however, were eager to imply otherwise, simply translating the line to “let’s back out now.” These mistranslations are circling the world and getting their five minutes of hilarity, but it is no surprise Chinese audiences are having opposing reactions. Apart from being mistranslated, the subtitles in the Avengers fail to convey the true meaning of the movie, disregarding the proper translation of puns, jokes, and homophones.

Following the outrage of webizens, Chinese cinemas have already started introducing corrections. Nevertheless, the damage has already been done, with many film enthusiasts forced to walk out of the movie to avoid seeing their favorite superhero lose all of his famous fortitude. A good tip for those with anything to translate in the future would be to take a step back and keep these humorous mistranslations in mind. The help of a good translation service could help you stay accurate- and save face.