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Creating ‘Shang-Chi’ — Inside the Character Who Will Be Marvel’s First Asian Big Screen Superhero (Exclusive)

Inclusivity has increasingly become a major component of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, driven home by the dual-success of Black Panther and, now, Captain Marvel, which have respectively put black people and women front and center in superhero films and proven that, as far as the audience is concerned, both are long overdue. Add to this the triumph of Crazy Rich Asians — which admittedly doesn’t have a superhero anywhere — and it’s no surprise that Marvel is turning its character Shang-Chi into a feature film.

“About a year ago,” recalls writer Steve Englehart who, with artist Jim Starlin, created Shang-Chi in 1973, “I went to Marvel Studios as just a supplicant and said, ‘You know, Crazy Rich Asians looks like it’s going to do something and Black Panther just did something. You really ought to do Shang-Chi,’ and they were, like, ‘Yeah, we’ll get back to it.’ Now I have to say that Marvel is very good about acknowledging and being true to what we did in the comics, but I totally get it that if you’re going to do a movie, you want a screenwriter and not a comic book writer. Although I’m sure I could do it, they don’t look at it that way. But overall I would say their decision to turn Shang-Chi into a film has more to do with Black Panther than Crazy Rich Asians. Black Panther just set everybody back.”


Jared Siskin/Patrick McMullan via Getty Images

Now, Shang-Chi is in active development. The script is being written by David Callaham, who wrote The Expendables and is currently scripting the sequel to the animated Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse. Directing is Daniel Cretton, whose credits include Short Term 12 (2013), The Glass Castle (2017) and the forthcoming Michael B. Jordan starrer, Just Mercy, scheduled for a 2020 release.

Scroll down for more on Marvel’s Shang-Chi.

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