Marvel's First Movie With An Asian Lead Character Is Moving Forward

Jared Siskin  Patrick McMullan  Getty Marvel

Jared Siskin Patrick McMullan Getty Marvel

The original Marvel Comics Shang-Chi features Shang, a half-Chinese, half-American superhero created by writer Steve Englehart and artist Jim Starlin. The studio is reportedly hiring Destin Daniel Cretton to direct their first superhero movie with an Asian protagonist. Previously, the studio recruited Asian-American screenwriter Dave Callaham to pen the script. Callaham is also co-wrote Wonder Woman 1984 with Patty Jenkins and Geoff Johns and is now writing the sequel to Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse for Sony. When Shang-Chi was finally allowed to venture into the outside world in order to do his father's bidding, he learned about his father's evil ways and faked his own death before embarking on a mission to take down Fu Manchu's criminal empire.

Marvel likely hopes "Shang-Chi" will do the same, following the success of last year's "Crazy Rich Asians", which smashed box-office records after becoming the first Hollywood studio movie in 25 years to feature a majority Asian cast.

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Cretton's prior credits include Short Term 12, which was adapted from a short film he made in 2009. He's now at work on the drama Just Mercy, which co-stars Larson and fellow Marvel Cinematic Universe alum Michael B. Jordan. Could Brie Larson's Carol Danvers/Captain Marvel show up in the new movie, providing yet another reunion for her and the director? In the comics, Shang-Chi is a master of numerous unarmed and weaponry-based wushu styles, including the use of the gun, nunchaku, and jian. It is clear that after Marvel Studios' unparalleled decade of success following Iron Man, Kevin Feige's next iterations of superhero franchises will distinguish themselves with ethnic diversity and inclusion, in front of and behind the camera.

Shang-Chi joins an ever-growing field of developing projects that will reshape the MCU following the events of Avengers: Endgame. Cretton is best known for Short Term 12, the 2013 indie darling that helped launch the careers of Brie Larson, Lakeith Stanfield, Rami Malek, and Stephanie Beatriz.

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There's no timetable in place for Shang-Chi yet, and we don't know what the studio's approach to the character is going to be (aside from that "modernized" comment).

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