Marvel made another excellent hire when it brought on Short Term 12 director Destin Daniel Cretton to helm the upcoming Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings. Marvel hopes that the film will be able to take off with Asian-American audiences like Black Panther was able to with African-American audiences, and they definitely have a talented director for the job.
What’s the process like, when you go in to pitch for a movie like that? What is the experience of pitching to Marvel and Kevin Feige like? Is it terrifying?
CRETTON: Yeah, it’s terrifying. I didn’t think I was going to get it, so that helps you feel not as terrified. The process of pitching is like anything. You just go in and speak your heart, and speak what you feel is important, and what you would love to do. And if they respond to that, then that’s going to be a good relationship. If they don’t respond to it, you don’t get the job, and it’s probably good that you don’t get the job.
How did you then find out that you got the job?
CRETTON: They just called me back in and told me I got the job.
When they brought you in and actually told you in person, did you try to play it cool?
CRETTON: No. They’re all so warm there. It’s a really warm family. So, it was a lot of hugs, and then it’s just, “Let’s get to work.”
Cretton noted that they plan to start filming early next year. He also talked about hiring The Matrix cinematographer Bill Pope for Shang-Chi and how his style will fit with what they’re going for on the film:
What made you choose Bill Pope as your cinematographer? Is there something that he brings to that kind of world that you were specifically looking for?
CRETTON: Yeah. He has a really beautiful style, that’s both naturalistic and grounded, but also heightened, in the best way. And anybody who can shoot The Matrix is probably gonna do great with this one.
Is that within the kind of tone that you’re looking to bring out with the story?
CRETTON: Yeah. I think particularly for our first Asian/Asian American step into the MCU, that tone feels right.
Finally, Cretton talked about how exciting it is to give young Asians and Asian-Americans the chance to see themselves up on screen with a superhero who looks like them:
If you could go back and tell the child version of you d that you’d be making this movie, what would that have meant to him to know that?
CRETTON: It would have been amazing because I would have been able to have a superhero that looked like me, rather than choosing the superheroes that I could imagine looking like me, under the mask. I was really into Spider-Man, or even the Incredible Hulk, because they I could picture myself under the Spider-Man mask, or as The Hulk because, when he was The Hulk, he was not really specific to any ethnicity. So, it’ll be nice to give that kid somebody who he can at least say, “Oh, that one looks like me.”
Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings opens February 12, 2021. Look for more from our interview with Cretton closer to the release of Just Mercy, which opens Christmas Day.