In the wake of Avengers: Endgame, fans all over the world are waiting with bated breath to see how the MCU is presented in Spider-Man: Far From Home, which hits theaters on July 2nd, 2019. There are a number of MCU films in development that are primed to follow Spidey and one of the most interesting ones is Shang-Chi.
It will be Marvel's first Asian-led movie and is based on a character known as the 'master of kung-fu'. Many fans hope that this movie will make up for Marvel dropping the ball with the Iron Fist show on Netflix, which was accused of cultural appropriation and failing to embrace diversity. Its martial arts scenes were also sub-par and that will simply not be tolerated with Shang-Chi, which will be competing with modern fight flicks like the John Wick and The Raid franchises. Here is all you need to know about Marvel's first Asian-led film!
Destin Daniel Cretton is a young director on the rise, with Shang-Chi perhaps poised to be his mainstream breakout film. He was announced as director in March 2019, beating out other potential candidates like Deborah Chow (Jessica Jones), Justin Tipping (Dear White People) and Alan Yang (Master Of None). Cretton is from Hawaii and is the son of a Japanese-American mother and an Irish/Slovak father.
His movie Short Term 12 was released in 2013 and turned a lot of heads in the industry, as it was a heartfelt exploration of a subject he had personal experience of: working in a group home for at-risk teens. He has some MCU connections: Captain Marvel's Brie Larson was the star of Short Term 12 and his follow-up film The Glass Castle, and she also stars in his new movie Just Mercy alongside Black Panther's Michael B. Jordan.
Marvel Studios also announced the screenwriter of Shang-Chi at the same time as they announced Cretton as director. David Callaham, a writer who is no stranger to blockbuster and/or comic book movies, is penning the script and he seems like a great choice.
He co-wrote the script for the upcoming Wonder Woman 1984 with Patty Jenkins and Geoff Johns, and was also announced in November 2018 to be writing the sequel to Spider-Man: Into The Spider-Verse. His previous credits include a production re-write on Ant-Man, Godzilla and Doom. He was also the creator of the Amazon TV series Jean-Claude Van Johnson, which received widespread critical acclaim but poor ratings. Callaham is of Chinese descent.
After nearly 20 films with white male leads, Marvel Studios has been very committed to introducing more diversity to the MCU over the last few years, both in-front of and behind the camera. Black Panther was the first step, with a black director and primarily black cast, and it deservedly became a cultural phenomenon. Captain Marvel followed, which featured the MCU's first solo female lead character.
Shang-Chi will feature the studio's first Asian lead character and the rest of the cast will be primarily made up of Asian and Asian-American actors as well. No actor has been cast yet and there hasn't even been a strongly rumored candidate either, so fans have thrown out names like The Walking Dead's Steven Yeun, Into The Badlands star Lewis Tan and Grey's Anatomy's Alex Landi.
Shang-Chi was created in 1972 by Steve Englehart and Jim Starlin as a response to a failed attempt to land the comic book rights to the television show Kung-Fu, which starred David Carradine (who would later go on to be immortalized as Bill in Quentin Tarantino's Kill Bill). After being denied these rights, they licensed the rights to pulp novel villain Dr. Fu Manchu and then created his previously unknown son: Shang-Chi, Master Of Kung-Fu!
The 1970s had seen a martial arts craze sweep America, with Bruce Lee becoming a hugely popular icon, so Shang-Chi's adventures initially sold very well, lasting a massive 125 issues. In fact, the character's initial design was modeled after Lee, and some writers and artists over the years have been accused of making the character little more than a Bruce Lee clone.
In Shang-Chi's original stories, he was trained to be the greatest martial artist alive by his father Fu Manchu, the Chinese Mastermind who repeatedly attempted world domination and had a thirst for blood. Unsurprisingly, once he realized his father was evil incarnate, he rebelled against him and Fu Manchu became his greatest enemy.
However, don't expect him to be the villain in the MCU film, given the startlingly racist connotations of the character, who was created way back in 1913 to personify the 'yellow peril'. Marvel eventually lost the rights to the character's name and he was given the new monicker Zheng Zu, but his appearances since have been few and far between. It's undoubtedly for the best; no matter what you want to call him, Fu Manchu is not a character who belongs in 2019.
In the aftermath of the 2006 Civil War event, Shang-Chi became a member of the Heroes For Hire alongside Colleen Wing, Misty Knight, Tarantula, Humbug, Orka, Black Cat, and Paladin. The team served as enforcers for the Superhuman Registration Act and came into conflict with Captain America. They later discovered a black market operation that was surgically implanting superhumans with Skrull organs which endowed them with shapeshifting abilities.
They also encountered Devil Dinosaur and Moon-Boy in the Savage Land and became embroiled in the World War Hulk story-arc. The series lasted 15 issues and when it was relaunched in 2010, Shang-Chi was no longer a member of the team.
When the Marvel NOW! relaunched occurred in 2012, Shang-Chi became a member of the Avengers in Avengers World #1. He was personally recruited by Captain America and Iron Man, which isn't too shabby! He would go on to be part of an Avengers faction led by the mutant Sunspot and their mission was to take over the villainous group A.I.M (Advanced Idea Mechanics), in order to discover the incursion points where an Incursion World that was about to hit Earth could be seen.
It's all very convoluted, but Shang-Chi wound up being exposed to cosmic level radiation that transformed him into a mutate capable of creating exact duplicates of himself! We're positive this story won't be covered in the movie, but it's a fun piece of crazy Marvel history anyway.
One of the most divisive elements of any MCU movie thus far was the depiction of the Mandarin in Iron Man 3. Historically Iron Man's primary nemesis, when it was announced that Sir Ben Kingsley was playing the character the fans were ecstatic. However, it turned out to be little more than a joke, with Kingsley revealed to truly be an alcoholic English actor who had been hired by Aldrich Killian to play the part of scary villain the Mandarin.
Fans were angry and so Marvel made a one-shot short film, All Hail The King, which hinted that the real Mandarin was still out there, but that plot point hasn't been addressed since. Could Marvel avoid any legal and moral issues of using the character of Fu Manchu and instead introduce the Mandarin as Shang-Chi's evil father? While the depiction of the Mandarin would have to be re-calibrated to avoid the character also being a problematic racist caricature, it's certainly a valid possibility for Marvel to explore.