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Shang-Chi

In 2021, director Destin Daniel Cretton will bring Shang-Chi to the MCU with the Phase 4 film Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings. The franchise blockbuster is a huge departure for the director, whose previous work includes smaller films like Short Term 12, The Glass Castle and this weekend’s Just Mercy. Explaining why he switched things up by joining the MCU to direct Shang-Chi, Destin Daniel Cretton said:

I grew up without a superhero to look up to. I gravitated to Spider-Man when I was a kid, primarily because he had a mask covering his face and I could imagine myself under that mask. I would love to give my son a superhero to look up to. I feel very privileged to be a part of telling that story.

Although Shang-Chi is not the first Asian character in the MCU, Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings will be the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s first Asian-led superhero film. It was the opportunity to be a part of that groundbreaking moment that drew Destin Daniel Cretton to the director’s chair for Shang-Chi.

Destin Daniel Cretton was born in Hawaii and is of Asian descent. And as he told The Hollywood Reporter, he didn’t have a superhero to look up to when he was growing up, or at least not one that looked like him. Shang-Chi actually debuted in Marvel Comics in 1971, prior to Destin Daniel Cretton’s birth, but the character obviously didn’t and still doesn’t have the prominence of many other non-Asian characters in the Marvel canon.

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So without a superhero to identify with and see himself in, Destin Daniel Cretton was attracted to Spider-Man. The thing about Spider-Man is that he wore a mask and could theoretically look like anyone underneath, even if Destin Cretton knew that it was Peter Parker. Interestingly, the idea that anyone can wear the mask is the thematic through-line in the recent animated masterpiece Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse.

But Destin Daniel Cretton doesn’t want that for his son. He doesn’t want his son to have to imagine himself behind the mask, he wants him to see a superhero onscreen that looks like him; a superhero who he can look up to, doing all kinds of amazing things that he can imagine himself doing.

Creating that for his son and so many other Asian kids is why Destin Daniel Cretton wanted to join the Marvel Cinematic Universe to direct Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings and why he feels privileged to be doing so. Destin Daniel Cretton is excited for the film’s visibility, and Marvel Studios President Kevin Feige has assured fans that it won’t just be paying lip service to the Asian representation in the film.

The overwhelming majority of the cast of Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings will be Asian, and the film’s writer, Dave Callaham, is of Chinese descent. The cast of the film includes Simu Liu as Shang-Chi, Golden Globe winner Awkwafina in an undisclosed role and Tony Leung as the real Mandarin who MCU fans have been waiting so long to finally see.

Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings opens in theaters on February 12, 2021. Check out our 2020 Release Schedule to see what movies are coming this year, and for all the latest superhero movie news stay tuned to CinemaBlend.