Phase 4 of the Marvel Cinematic Universe is shaping up to be something very different for the long running franchise. While there is no shortage of sequels to existing films, there are a lot of new characters being introduced as well. One of those is Marvel's first Asian hero to lead a big screen feature, Shang-Chi.
The MCU has begun to broaden its representation in recent years by spotlighting women and heroes of color in films like Captain Marvel and Black Panther, and so fans were excited when Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings was officially confirmed at San Diego Comic-Con last year. But Kevin Feige recently stated that Shang-Chi won't simply contain an Asian hero, but a nearly entirely Asian cast. According to Feige...
Like Shang-Chi, we’ve wanted to make that movie for a long time. We want to make a movie with a 98% Asian cast. And then you talk about, as you develop the movie, what other heroes can you bring into it, if you need them? And in the case of Black Panther [in Captain America: Civil War], it was the greatest thing that ever happened.
Kevin Feige was speaking at the New York Film Academy and was asked about how the decisions are made regarding which characters get introduced into the universe and when. He responded that sometimes, in the case of Black Panther, it's a necessity of the story. Captain America: Civil War was in need of a an antagonist for Captain America, because during pre-production Robert Downey Jr. wasn't actually under contract to play Iron Man again and there was a possibility the movie would happen with out him.
Other times, as in the case of Shang-Chi, it's simply about a desire to bring a character into a movie. As that movie is being developed, opportunities are found to add additional characters, which might imply that Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings is set to introduce other new MCU characters, as Doctor Strange and the Multiverse of Madness has also been confirmed to be doing.
At this point the only confirmed cast for Shang-Chi is Simu Liu as the title character, Tony Leung Chiu Wai as The Mandarin, and Awkwafina in an as yet unknown role. It seems, based on Kevin Feige's comments, that there will be a few non-Asian actors in the movie, but we don't even know who they are quite yet.
Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings will be getting production underway in a few months and it's great to hear that the movie will be meeting a lot of expectations when it comes to casting. Hopefully this will only be the beginning of seeing Shang-Chi, and perhaps other Asian Marvel heroes, in the future of the Marvel Cinematic Universe.