Shang-Chi’s Destin Daniel Cretton wants his movie to break stereotypes

destin daniel cretton, shang-chi, marvel

With the new Marvel movie,­ SHANG-CHI AND THE LEGEND OF THE TEN RINGS, director Destin Daniel Cretton will be bringing to the big screen the first movie in the MCU to star an Asian superhero and to feature a predominantly Asian ensemble. Cretton understands that along with the incredible undertaking that comes with making any massive blockbuster that he has an equally large responsibility to increase the visibility of the Asian community with his movie, and in a new interview, he said he hopes the movie will break stereotypes perpetuated by movies of the past.

The director took a break from prepping the Marvel movie to promote his latest, JUST MERCY with Michael B. Jordan, Brie Larson and Jamie Foxx, at TIFF, and spoke with IndieWire about how there need to be more movies in the industry that expose audiences to new cultures. If there are, that can lead to the breaking of negative ethnic stereotypes. 

“We need more movies and more stories that continue to show characters of every ethnicity in ways that we have not seen them before. We are trying to create something [with “Shang-Chi”] that reflects the Asian American and Asian experience today. There are a lot of stereotypes that I hope our movie helps to break.”

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He continued, talking about how he himself has been on the receiving end of such harmful stereotypes, some of which took hold as a result of the explosion of kung-fu movies in the 70s and 80s. 

“When I first moved from Maui to California, it was the first time a random stranger called me Bruce Lee just for kicks and I had people doing the karate chop thing as a joke to me. I think the more that we see characters of different ethnicities acting like us, going through experiences that we all relate to, seeing them interact with their families, laugh, and love, and get hurt and get up again, the more those stereotypes break down. The less likely someone is going to see someone with an Asian face and just assume they know kung-fu or are related to Bruce Lee, and I hope that our movie is going to help with that conversation.”

He’s been hard at work getting things ready for SHANG-CHI, which will kick off production in Australia next year. While he was worried he might not be the right fit for Marvel before taking the gig, he said how he talked with Larson, a frequent collaborator and Captain Marvel herself, as well as indie directors who made the leap to Marvel, Ryan Coogler (BLACK PANTHER) and Taika Waititi (THOR: RAGNAROK), for advice. Now with everything coming into place, Cretton said the experience has been like “going back to film school.” “I’m learning so much. I’m surrounded by a very supportive team. Everybody there has been a joy to work with so far,” he said.

SHANG-CHI AND THE LEGEND OF THE TEN RINGS will be in theaters February 12, 2021.