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Chinese Character Shang-Chi to Head Up Marvel’s First Asian-Led Superhero Movie

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Shang-Chi, a “master of kung fu” from a “fortress in Honan”, will lead Marvel Studios’ “first superhero movie tentpole franchise with an Asian protagonist”, after a movie project featuring the character was “fast-tracked” in the wake of the success of Black Panther and the slightly less superhero-y Crazy Rich Asians.

According to Deadline

“The studio has set Chinese-American scribe Dave Callaham to write the screenplay, and […] 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.”

Can. Not. Wait.

So who is Shang-Chi? Well, questionable origins aside (where’s Honan? A Wade-Giles Henan or a made-up place?), according to the character’s page on the Marvel site he’s “the son of an internationally-renowned and powerful criminal mastermind. His childhood was a lonely one, full of constant training in rigorous mental and martial arts and with only limited contact with his parents.”

But wait, there’s a twist. When he discovers his father is not the kind humanitarian he thought he was, Shang-Chi turns on his dad and falls in with the British Secret Intelligence Service, MI6.

Naturally, he’s also a bit of a martial arts master:

The news of a Shang-Chi film getting fast-tracked comes after Marvel unveiled a whole suite of Chinese superheroes earlier this year and tapped Beijing-born filmmaker Chloe Zhao to helm The Eternals, a movie that is intended to help fill the post-Avengers void once that franchise wraps up.

Don’t know about you, but this all has us pretty excited for what’s coming next in the Marvel universe.

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Cover image: Marvel

Jake Newby
Jake Newby is a Shanghai-based writer and editor with more than a decade's experience living and working in China. Previously managing editor of Time Out Shanghai, he's also written for publications such as South China Morning Post and the Financial Times.