Marvel Fast-Tracking ‘Shang-Chi’ Movie as the Studio’s First Asian-Led Superhero Film

     December 3, 2018


Black Panther was no one-off. While Marvel Studios has kept mum about any and all upcoming projects so as to keep the secrets of Avengers 4 intact, word is starting to leak about what they have on tap for the post-Avengers 4 MCU. We already know the Scarlett Johansson-led Black Widow movie has a director and a script and is due to start shooting next year, and earlier this year Marvel tapped indie filmmaker Chloe Zhao to direct an Eternals movie, marking the first woman of color to helm a Marvel Studios film. Now, Marvel is looking to get even more diverse in front of and behind the camera with a Shang-Chi movie.

Deadline reports that Marvel Studios is fast-tracking an adaptation of the Shang-Chi comics character for a feature film franchise, which will mark the studio’s first Asian protagonist. Asian-American Dave Callaham, whose credits range from The Expendables to creating the TV series Jean-Claude Van Johnson to co-writing Wonder Woman 1984, has been tapped to write the screenplay. Marvel is also reportedly already looking at a number of Asian and Asian-American directors who could take the helm, looking towards Black Panther as the model.

shang-chi-comics-cover-2Indeed, not only is Black Panther one of Marvel Studios’ most successful films thus far, it’s by far their most critically acclaimed. The studio is in the midst of a major Oscars push for Black Panther, with most pundits predicting the film to land a Best Picture nomination, among others. The key to Black Panther’s success was in hiring Ryan Coogler to co-write and direct a personal, thematically rich story and giving him the freedom necessary to do so instead of dictating story points that would only serve to benefit future MCU films. Here’s hoping that continues with Shang-Chi.

The Shang-Chi character was created in the early 1970s by writer Steve Englehart and artist Jim Starlin and was born out of Marvel Comics’ desire to acquire the rights to the TV series Kung Fu, which they were denied. Instead, they acquired the rights to the villain Fu Manchu and created Shang-Chi as a son of Fu Manchu. In the comics, Shang-Chi was raised and trained by his father in martial arts, but when he learned his father was actually evil, he tuned against him.

That’s about all the details we have at the moment, but good on Marvel Studios for learning the right lessons from Black Panther and not simply returning to the mine of “Good-Looking White Dude” protagonists. One imagines this Shang-Chi movie, with an Asian protagonist, will go over a bit better than Marvel TV’s now cancelled Iron Fist

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