Jim Starlin, the artist and co-creator of kung fu master Shang-Chi, has revealed that he doesn’t want to see the character’s father Fu Manchu appear in the upcoming MCU movie starring the martial arts superhero. The film will be the first in the saga led by an Asian actor (and in this case, specifically Chinese), and concerns over the dated nature of the latter character make his inclusion questionable.
Fu Manchu is not a character original to comics, but was a creation of British author Sax Rohmer. He first appeared in a series of novels beginning with The Insidious Dr Fu Manchu in 1913 when the British Empire was on the cusp of decline, and the island nation’s megalomaniacal jingoism was threatened for the first time in centuries. The character is depicted as a criminal mastermind unleashing insidious plots to further his goals of world domination, and is a quintessential example of Yellow Peril, an existential fear rooted in xenophobia that depicts Asians as a dark, mystical and unknowable force that will envelope the civilized nations of the West and was used as a justification for colonialism. As an extension of this, Fu Manchu was combated by Sir Denis Nayland Smith, a Scotland Yard inspector and personification of British values who manages to foil the villain’s schemes by stiff upper lip determination rather than actually managing to outwit his intellectually superior enemy.
The subject of Starlin not wanting Fu Manchu in Shang-Chi came up in an interview with Starlin conducted by Popcorn Talk at San Diego Comic-Con. Stating “I’m pretty sure they’re gonna cut him out of the whole thing,” he explained that he had never read any of the books before beginning work on the Shang-Chi comics. It wasn’t until after completion of the first issue that a friend of his gave him a copy of one of the novels, and after experiencing its content Starlin found it “kind of embarrassing.” Other things are also discussed in the video below, such as Adam Warlock, Starlin’s thoughts on Thanos returning to the MCU, and the flexibility of faithfulness required for film adaptations, but this particular issue is brought up first.
Fu Manchu first appeared in comics after the character was licensed by DC, and he made his first appearance in 1938 in Detective Comics #17 in the first part of a serialized adaptation of the original novel. When Shang-Chi was created in 1973 to ride the wave popularity of martial arts movies (the character was modeled after Bruce Lee) the villain was utilized as his father, training his son as an assassin to further his own goals, only for his true nature to be revealed after Shang-Chi encountered Nayland Smith, thereafter father and son becoming enemies.
Starlin is most probably right that Fu Manchu will not make an appearance in Shang-Chi. The character is so emblematic of bigoted attitudes he has no right to appear in the modern day and expect to be seen as anything other than a racist relic to be derided and ignored, and is also so badly dated that he has become a shorthand for exaggerated Asian stereotypes. It’s unlikely that Shang-Chi’s father won’t be at least referenced even if he doesn’t appear, since as everyone knows, parental issues go hand in hand with origin stories, but exactly who the character will be remains to be seen.
Source: Popcorn Talk