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Casting Shang-Chi In The MCU

Marvel Studios will soon be in the casting process for Shang-Chi, so here are some names they should consider. Kevin Feige is pulling the Master of Kung Fu out of development and is now fast-tracking what could be the first Asian-led superhero movie. The Shang-Chi movie just took a major step forward with David Callaham writing the script.

Shang-Chi was created by Steve Englehart and Jim Starlin in the early 1970s as one of the greatest martial artists in the world. Commonly known as the Master of Kung Fu, Shang-Chi was modeled after Bruce Lee. Shang-Chi isn't a stern warrior though, with his humor and playfulness also being a main component to his character. But, this doesn't mean he's totally lighthearted either, as he was raised to be a deadly assassin by his super villain father Fu Manchu. The character was originally set to be introduced on the big screen much earlier on, as Shang-Chi was among a variety of projects initially announced by Marvel Studios in 2005. There has been no movement on the character since the MCU has formed and grown to what it is now, but it appears he never completely was forgotten about by the executives crafting the universe.

Related: Marvel Studios Original Plan Would've Led To A Very Different Infinity War

Word of a Shang-Chi movie being back in-development is exciting news, with Marvel potentially getting an action-heavy franchise that once again adds diversity to the universe and reaches another community that hasn't been targeted by superhero films. But, since they are moving quickly with the project, it may not be too long before the kung fu master is cast. Marvel Studios and Callaham's take on the martial artist will "modernize the hero to avoid stereotypes that many comic characters of that era were saddled with." In order to do this, they'll need to properly cast the role soon - unless Remy Hii's already playing Shang-Chi in Spider-Man: Far From Home.

Before the potential candidates are laid out, some general ground rules should be implemented. Although Shang-Chi is specifically Chinese in the comics, it's possible Marvel will look at actors from all across Asia to fill the role. Additionally, Shang-Chi's martial arts experience is a major part to who he is, but that doesn't mean Marvel must or will cast someone who is previously trained. Without a character breakdown, it's impossible to know how much of an emphasis the studio will put on the action element, but Marvel's casting process is different compared to other studios. There's several different directions in terms of age, experience, and background for them to go when making their choice, so here are some options to help.

Steven Yeun

One actor Marvel Studios can look at for Shang-Chi is Steven Yeun, who's most well-known for his role as Glenn on The Walking Dead, a role that truly established him as a major TV star. In The Walking Dead series, Yeun proved that he not only has leading man potential but also can perform action-heavy scenes as well. Even though he isn't a trained martial artist, it's easy to imagine Yeun picking up enough in training to do some of his own stunts. Outside of his Walking Dead performance, Yeun has starred in OkjaMayhem, and Sorry to Bother You. With plenty of fans already, which apparently includes Feige (who recently met Yeun at an awards ceremony, via Twitter), the 34-year-old actor could already be on Marvel's radar.

Lewis Tan

A fan-favorite choice for any martial arts-related superhero role is Lewis Tan, and he's another person Marvel Studios should be looking at for Shang-Chi. Tan first gained attention for played the drunken kung fu master in Iron Fist season 1, after also publicly lobbying to be cast as an Asian version of Danny Rand. He then followed this up by briefly playing Shatterstar in Deadpool 2, but that role could be short lived due to Disney's upcoming acquisition of 20th Century Fox. He has gone on to land roles in Into the Badlands and Wu Assassins, but his leading role many want to see is still needed. If Marvel does wind up prioritizing casting someone who can do most of their own stunt work, then this role could swing in Tan's favor. After all, he's a rising talent at only 31 years old who could really breakout as Shang-Chi.

Ross Butler

Now, if Marvel wants to go for someone with the leading man stature that can stand tall with the MCU's various other heroes, then Ross Butler could be a nice choice as well for Shang-Chi. Butler has primarily stayed with TV as of late and has left a good impression. Roles in The CW's Riverdale and Netflix's 13 Reasons Why helped solidify his place in the industry, but he's also secretly joined the cast of DC's Shazam!. That role is likely a small one as another member of the Marvel family, yet it may be joining the Marvel Cinematic Universe that can launch his career even further. Butler has the charisma that Shang-Chi could use and 6'3" build to become a powerful fighter. With a bit of training and a chance, Butler could be Marvel's next star. (Plus, it's worth mentioning that Marvel is already starting to mine 13 Reasons Why's cast for talent, as they recently cast Katherine Langford in Avengers 4.)

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Key Release Dates
  • Captain Marvel (2019) release date: Mar 08, 2019
  • The Avengers 4 / Avengers: Endgame (2019) release date: Apr 26, 2019
  • Spider-Man: Far From Home (2019) release date: Jul 05, 2019
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