‘Shang-Chi’ is the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s first tentpole franchise which has an Asian protagonist. It has now been revealed by Deadline that Destin Daniel Cretton will be directing the film. Cretton’s other notable films include ‘Short Term 12’, ‘The Glass Castle’, and currently he is directing ‘Just Mercy’, a film written by him and starring Brie Larson and Michael B. Jordan.
Zeroing in on Cretton as the director is keeping with Marvel Studios’ goal of taking the ‘Shang-Chi’ project in the same direction as ‘Black Panther‘. ‘Black Panther’ was a watershed moment in the MCU that provided a template of how to reflect the sensibilities of a culture without fear of misappropriation by tapping into talents with ties to that very culture. Coogler thus teamed up with black writer Joe Robert Cole.
While the critically acclaimed Ryan Coogler film honed in on talents of African origin for both cast and crew, the ‘Shang-Chi’ project will be populated by Asian-American talents. To this extent, Deadline had also reported when the project was unveiled last year, the studio had gotten Dave Callaham, the Chinese-American scribe to pen the script. Callaham is best known for his work on scripts like ‘Wonder Woman 1984’ where he is working with Patty Jenkins and Geoff Johns. He made the ‘Expendables‘ franchise and helped with Legendary’s ‘Godzilla’ reboot. He is now working on ‘Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse 2’. Callaham’s experience in franchise building and superhero movies will be something he brings to the table along with his experiences as an Asian-American while working on the script for ‘Shang-Chi’.
Considering the way the MCU is moving forward, it seems to be falling in line with Marvel Studios president Kevin Feige’s assertions that we reported about the future of their superhero movies after ‘Avengers: Endgame‘ being more diverse. Feige said that the MCU would be distinguished by greater diversity and inclusivity both behind and in front of the cameras.
For those who do not know who Shang-Chi is, the character first appeared in December 1973, in Special Marvel Edition #15. It was the brainchild of Steve Engelhart and Jim Starlin and the comic came out around the time ‘Enter the Dragon’ released, making martial arts popular in mainstream entertainment. Shang-Chi was shown to be the son of a China-based globalist and was brought up in isolation. He gains unsurpassed skills in martial arts and is eventually sent out to the world to work for his father. It is then that he realizes the lies his father fed him about being humanitarian, and it appears as though his father is The Devil’s Doctor, and might be centuries old. This makes the two of them enemies. While this the backstory of the character, for the film, the attempt will be to modernize the script in order to avoid the racial stereotypes that many characters in that era were subjected to.
Although ‘Shang-Chi’ does not have a release date yet, the news that they already have a scriptwriter and now a director means that the movie is moving steadily forward. Comic Book reports that Marvel Studios has three release dates set aside for 2021, including February 12, May 7, and November 5, and Shang-Chi, the master of King Fu, could arrive in the theaters on any of these dates.