Deadline reports that Marvel Studios is fast-tracking a feature film based on Shang-Chi, arguably the preeminent Asian hero in the Marvel Universe. Chinese-American screenwriter Dave Callaham (hey, he’s from Fresno!) currently is on-board to write the script. From Deadline:
Deadline hears Marvel is already looking at a number of Asian and Asian-American directors who want to do something as potentially monumental as was accomplished in Marvel’s first viable Best Picture candidate, Black Panther. That film tied into African and African American cultures and the sensibilities of its nearly all-black cast, with a black director in Ryan Coogler and writer in Joe Robert Cole. The goal here is to do a similar thing: introduce a new hero who blends Asian and Asian American themes, crafted by Asian and Asian American filmmakers.
Without overdoing the Black Panther analogy (yeah, I’ve gone there also), it’s big news because, like T’Challa, Shang-Chi is a legacy Marvel character, that is to say, he’s been around for a while. Also known as The Master of Kung-Fu, Shang-Chi originated as, essentially, a comics variation on Bruce Lee, and evolved through the years in many different incarnations and storylines, in which he often appears with The Avengers, S.H.I.E.L.D., and with all the other Asian Marvel heroes in a landmark story arc from writer Greg Pak in Totally Awesome Hulk.
My big question is, given the phasing out of the Netflix Marvel series, is Colleen Wing going to be in it? She’s a natural fit for Marvel’s martial-arts world, and Henwick’s standout performance is really the only thing that invites comparison to, uh, that other Marvel series about the best martial artist in the world.
Ideally, a Shang-Chi film would be crafted with cultural specificity and distinct Asian American experience. Shang-Chi is specifically a Chinese character, and his particular flair involves Qi, Gong Fu, the long tradition of Chinese martial arts/gangster genre films, and all sorts of stuff that suffered erasure in The Unfortunate Tale Of The Immortal Iron Fist. Who ought to direct and star in Shang-Chi? Jennifer Phang? Hiro Murai? The filmmaker dude who founded YOMYOMF?
Dominic Mah is a writer, filmmaker, and ex-professional gambler. Follow him on twitter: @dommah and/or @thorhulkcritic and elsewhere on the internet at Karaoke Rhapsody and You Offend Me You Offend My Family