Shang-Chi Will Be Marvel’s First Asian-Led Superhero Movie Franchise

Marvel Studios is expanding their stable of characters and is reportedly fast-tracking a Shang-Chi movie adaptation. This is being eyed as the studio’s first superhero franchise to feature an Asian lead character. While Kevin Feige and the brass at Marvel Studios have yet to confirm the news personally, the idea is that they’re trying to mirror the success they enjoyed with Black Panther this year by continuing to showcase an increasingly diverse lineup of heroes on the big screen.

According to a new report, Asian-American screenwriter Dave Callaham, who recently co-wrote Wonder Woman 1984, has been tapped to write the Shang-Chi movie. There is no word currently on who specifically would wind up in the director’s chair, but the report notes that Marvel is looking to hire either an Asian or Asian-American director for the gig. As for Callaham, his impressive list of credits also includes the Amazon series Jean Claude Van-Johnson, The Expendables franchise and 2014’s Godzilla, as well as an early draft of Zombieland 2 and Sony’s upcoming Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse 2.

Shang-Chi, even for regular comic book readers, isn’t amongst the most well-known characters in the pages of Marvel Comics, but he has a long history with the publisher. He was first introduced in 1973 in Special Marvel Edition #15 and was eventually given his own series. Often referred to as the Master of Kung Fu, Shang-Chi, who was created by writer Steve Englehart and artist Jim Starlin, is the son of Fu Manchu. In the world of Marvel Comics, Fu Manchu trains his son in the ways of martial arts. However, Shang-Chi eventually finds out that his father is evil and turns against him. Over the years, he’s been associated with teams like the Heroes for Hire, Secret Avengers and even the main Avengers team during the Marvel Now! initiative.

It’s said that the script will work to modernize the character, as to avoid any possible racist stereotypes that can come with the territory. Characters like Shang-Chi, as well as Wong, who was featured in Doctor Strange, weren’t treated with the utmost cultural sensitivity in the comics and Marvel has tried to avoid such problematic representations in the MCU thus far. Though, they did run into some issues by making The Ancient One a white woman, as opposed to giving the role to an Asian actor. They’re surely going to try and avoid any such blowback this time around.

Currently, Marvel Studios isn’t saying much officially about their movie slate beyond next year’s Avengers 4. We know Spider-Man: Far From Home hits theaters next year and that Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 is in the works (but delayed indefinitely following James Gunn’s firing). But word is they’re also working on The Eternals, with Chloe Zhao developing, a Black Widow solo movie from director Cate Shortland and Black Panther 2, which will see Ryan Coogler back at the helm. That only makes sense, considering the first movie made $1.3 billion at the global box office and has a serious shot at a Best Picture nomination. Marvel appears to be hoping for similar success here. We’ll be sure to keep you posted as any additional details on the project are made available. This news was first reported by Deadline.