The Marvel Cinematic Universe is ready to continue make history following the thunderous response to its more inclusive titles, Black Panther and Captain Marvel. The studio has just hired Asian-American director Destin Daniel Cretton to helm a film for martial-arts hero Shang-Chi, the first superhero movie lead by an Asian protagonist.
While Marvel’s official future slate hasn't been announced to the public yet in order to focus on the events of Avengers: Endgame and Spider-Man: Far From Home first, the comic series inspired by martial artist Bruce Lee’s pop culture prominence in Enter the Dragon will soon be adapted to the cinematic universe.
The project is certainly starting to shape up as Destin Daniel Cretton is now attached as director, in addition to Chinese-American writer Dave Callaham writing the screenplay, via Deadline. Up next, Marvel will also enlist a primarily Asian cast to the movie as well.
Ironically enough, Destin Daniel Cretton has spent much of his directing career teaming up with Captain Marvel actress Brie Larson in Short Term 12, Glass Castle and for his upcoming drama Just Mercy, which will will have her playing opposite Black Panther’s Michael B. Jordan. Maybe Larson played a part in Marvel’s decision to enlist Cretton for the project. It's food for thought.
Shang-Chi was first announced back in December, when reports said Marvel Studios was fast-tracking the movie with script writer Dave Callaham, who created the Expendables franchise and story for 2014’s Godzilla reboot. The writer also co-wrote the Wonder Woman 1984 script and has signed on to the Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse sequel.
The hero debuted in Marvel Comics in 1973, at a time when martial arts films were at an all-time popularity high. Shang-Chi grows up and is educated in the confines of a compound in China, where he intensely trains in the ways of martial arts to an expert level. His father allows him to go into the outside world under his orders, but Shang-Chi eventually finds out that his father is a centuries-old villain whose various identities include Fu Manchu and The Devil's Doctor. The father and son become sworn enemies.
Following the achievement of Black Panther, the highest-earning movie of 2018, Marvel’s first Best Picture contender and winner of three Academy Awards, the studio has placed a new focus on diversity in the upcoming films. Kevin Feige teased that Black Panther is just the beginning. The recent release of the first female-fronted flick Captain Marvel is another step in that direction and Shang-Chi follows this mission.
This news certainly puts the Shang-Chi movie in the running to be part of Marvel’s Phase Four slate, along with the Black Widow solo film, Black Panther 2, The Eternals, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 and Doctor Strange 2. Until then, you can read up on the comic book character with our Shang-Chi guide.
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Sarah El-Mahmoud has been with CinemaBlend since 2018 after graduating from Cal State Fullerton with a degree in Journalism. In college, she was the Managing Editor of the award-winning college paper, The Daily Titan, where she specialized in writing/editing long-form features, profiles and arts & entertainment coverage, including her first run-in with movie reporting, with a phone interview with Guillermo del Toro for Best Picture winner, The Shape of Water. Now she's into covering YA television and movies, and plenty of horror. Word webslinger. All her writing should be read in Sarah Connor’s Terminator 2 voice over.