In a year that had two mainstream films, one featuring a nearly all-Black cast in Marvel‘s Black Panther and an all-Asian in Warner Bros. Crazy Rich Asians, find incredible success financially, critically, and with audiences, Marvel/Disney has decided to capitalize on that trend, once again, with a relatively unknown hero from Marvel Comics, Shang-Chi.
A report from Deadline has revealed that Marvel has greenlit and fast-tracked the first Asian superhero film, Shang-Chi, and has even signed on writer Dave Callaham, who is well-versed in the genre. Dave Callaham co-wrote Wonder Woman 1984, wrote Zombieland 2, The Expendables franchise, Legendary‘s Godzilla, and is currently writing Spider-man: Into the Spiderverse 2. Oh, and he happens to be Asian-American.
Normally, someone’s descent isn’t usually a priority when we write one of these articles, but in the case of Shang-Chi and Callaham it matters. According to the report, Marvel‘s goal is to develop, not only the first Asian Superhero film on-screen, but to also have it crafted and developed by a crew of Asian and Asian-American filmmakers off-screen. Marvel is currently reaching out to Asian and Asian American directors to helm the product.
As Black Panther and Crazy Rich Asians pointed out, it’s incredibly important for different cultures and races to be represented accurately in film. For far too long filmmakers have missed the mark when it comes to films that featured African, Asian, or any other descent that wasn’t caucasian. Even comicbook characters like Shang-Chi became mired by stereotypes when the first issues ran. Rectifying that mistake by creating the first Asian superhero film, built by and for the Asian and superhero community will be another excellent step toward progress.
It’s also likely that Shang-Chi has a long tenure in the MCU, as well. With Avengers 4 seemingly passing the torch to a new crop of heroes, Shang-Chi could be part of the new generation of MCU characters we follow for some time. As of now, the only MCU films we know of being developed are a Black Panther sequel, a Spider-man sequel, a Black Widow solo flick, and an Eternals movie. That leaves plenty of room for Shang-Chi to help carry the load when Marvel inevitably passes the torch.
There is no timetable for release of the Shang-Chi movie, but stay tuned for more news on casting and a director hire in the coming months. Until then, see below for Shang-Chi’s origin.
Shang-Chi first appeared in Special Marvel Edition #15 in December 1973, hatched by Steve Englehart and Jim Starlin. The script will modernize the hero to avoid stereotypes that many comic characters of that era were saddled with. The comic launched around the time that Enter the Dragon became a global sensation and martial arts films raged. In the comics, Shang-Chi is the son of China-based globalist who raised and educated his progeny in his reclusive China compound, closed off to the outside world. The son trained in the martial arts and developed unsurpassed skills. He is eventually introduced to the outside world to do his father’s bidding, and then has to come to grips with the fact his revered father might not be the humanitarian he has claimed to be and is closer to what others call him: The Devil’s Doctor. He also might be centuries old. The deceit makes them bitter enemies.