April 4, 2023

By Diana Cheng
AAP Film & Arts Writer

Marvel Studios president Kevin Feige announced some highly anticipated projects on Saturday, July 20, at the San Diego Comic-Con 2019. Asian-Americans are among two of these upcoming Marvel Cinematic Universe arrivals and at prominent positions.

“Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings” is slated for 2021. Chinese Canadian Simu Liu will become Marvel’s first Asian lead in a superhero film, playing Master of Kung-Fu Shang-Chi. Liu may not be a household name in the U.S. just yet, but he is well known for his role as Jung Kim in the award-winning Canadian TV series “Kim’s Convenience”, based on Toronto playwright Ins Choi’s acclaimed stage production.

Alongside Liu in the cast will be Awkwafina of “Crazy Rich Asians” (2018) fame. More recently, her role in “The Farewell” (2019) has established her as a fine character actor on top of her other talented pursuits such as rapper, singer, and comedian, to name a few.

To generate even more excitement among Asian film fans, the villain of the new Shang-Chi feature will be the Cannes winning actor — among numerous other accolades — Tony Leung. Leung had established himself internationally as early as 2000 when he won Best Actor at Cannes for his role in Wong Kar Wai’s “In the Mood for Love”. He had also demonstrated he could be a convincing martial artist in “The Grandmaster” (2013), Wong’s epic on Ip Man.

“Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings” will be directed by Asian American Destin Daniel Cretton, known for his acclaimed “Short Term 12” with Brie Larson in her breakout role. Cretton is of Japanese heritage born in Hawai‘i.

Chinese-American Dave Callaham (“The Expendables”, “Wonder Woman”) will write the screenplay, showcasing the superhero feature with a prominent Asian-American cast and crew. Marvel Studio is boosting the feature as an Asian “Black Panther” production.

Even before “Shang-Chi”, Marvel will have another superhero film coming out in 2020 helmed by an Asian-American, “The Eternals”. The Cannes winning Chloé Zhao, who has garnered high acclaims for her indie film “The Rider,” was selected to direct the feature. She will be leading a cast including Angelina Jolie, Richard Madden, and Kumail Nanjiani. Zhao is the second female director for a Marvel superhero movie, after Anna Boden (“Captain Marvel”, 2019).

Meanwhile, in the DC Universe, Chinese-American Cathy Yan (“Dead Pigs”, 2018) is the first Asian-American female filmmaker to direct a superhero movie with “Birds of Prey” coming out in 2020. The Oscar nominated Margot Robbie will be starring as Harley Quinn.

Looks like Asian-Americans have landed in the Superhero Universes.

Contact Diana Cheng at [email protected] or visit at Twitter @Arti_Ripples or her blog Ripple Effects rippleeffects.reviews.

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