John Woo, the influential creative force behind action hits like Face/Off and Mission: Impossible 2, will produce a live-action version of Stan Lee’s “Monkey Master.”
The unreleased comic book series, created by Lee in collaboration with Graphic India’s CEO and co-founder Sharad Devarajan, is inspired by the legendary Chinese tale of the Monkey King. The story follows archaeologist Li Yong, who after discovering an ancient prophecy about the Monkey King, travels to India and uncovers a mysterious power that transforms him into the Monkey Master.
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In 2016, Lee spoke about his fascination with Chinese and Indian cultures and how they inspired him, saying “Monkey Master will be unique in how it interweaves myth to create a modern-day hero that will entertain fans across the world with his martial arts skills and unstoppable superpowers.”
Whilst Woo is currently only listed as a producer on the project, reports have indicated that he may take over the director’s chair, lending his signature style of high-impact action sequences and stylized imagery.
On Weibo, netizens reacted quickly to the news. Some were interested in the idea of a superhero inspired by Chinese culture, and others were excited at the chance to see an unpublished story by Lee come to life.
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Others were less excited, casting doubt over the movie’s cultural authenticity and character elements. One said, “I’m not sure about the look of this Monkey King, it seems to deliberately turn the original version into a stereotypical superhero.”
Woo, however, is excited about the project.
“The story by Stan Lee was such a unique version of it that incorporated the mythological characters’ unexplored journey to India and had all the elements I enjoy in filmmaking – great characters, action, and adventure.”
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Strangely enough, Monkey Master isn’t the only Monkey-King-superhero-revamp that’s irking Chinese audiences right now.
A DC Comics take on the legend called “Monkey Prince”, helmed by Gene Luen-Yang, has also stirred controversy, with some online calling the hero “ugly”, and criticizing its makers for dealing with stories they “don’t understand.”
Cover Image: Monkey Master Artwork by Graphic India and Jeevan J. Kang
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