A little something different today.
Marvel has just posted the trailer for “Shang Chi and The Legend of the Ten Rings” which comes out this September. For comic book and martial arts fans, there is probably no more anticipated title slated for Marvel this year. Check it out below:
A quick background on Shang-Chi from the Comics. I read these books in the ‘70s and early 80’s. The character has gone on to do more in the Marvel universe, but, I can only speak to my childhood love of the book. The character was created in 1972 when Marvel failed to get the rights to the TV show “Kung Fu” with David Caradine and instead utilized the old property of “Fu Manchu” as the background. Fu Manchu is a problematic character when it comes to Asian stereotypes, being the source of many of them. Alas, Fu Manchu was Shang-Chi’s Father in the comics, a fact they are quite welcome to change. The Comic and the TV show Kung Fu were both capitalizing on the popularity of Bruce Lee and martial arts movies. And so, Kung Fu became a part of the Marvel universe.
The trailer looks amazing. The cast has some great actors in the roles including Tony Leung as the Mandarin himself. Simu Liu staring as the titular character, Michelle Yeoh, and Awkwafina as our comic audience member character round out the cast for what promises to be a fun ride. The action looks to be full on Wuxia Hong Kong style wire work assisted stuff. Very smooth and elegant as well as precise. I know many folks do not like the old wire work of old, but I have always been a huge fan of things like “ Chinese Ghost Story” and such, so this has whetted my appetite for sure.
Marvel has had a hard time with the Mandarin and other of its older Asian characters like The Ancient One. The source material is often embarrassingly racist for today. So when trying to bring these characters to the screen Marvel has had to make a few choices to avoid these problematic stereotypes. Their first stab at the Mandarin was unpopular to say the least. While I loved the twist of Sir Ben Kingsley playing an imposter, fans of Iron Man were looking forward to the actual Mandarin being given the MCU treatment. Alas, he was reduced to a comic plot line.
Their recasting of the Ancient One for Dr. Strange, changing the character to a Celtic (white) woman brought many accusations of white washing and simply writing Asians out of the story. The dismal performance of Iron Fist, a story of a rich white male who learns Kung Fu and becomes the legendary hero, just promoted more white washing complaints, even though, the story of Iron Fist is partly about that very dynamic.
None of these issues seem to be present with this offering. A principle cast that is Asian, a modernization of some of the more archaic elements to 1970’s comic books, and some huge Hong Kong Action street cred with Tony Leung as the main antagonist and Michelle Yoeh in the cast. The kid reading comics and watching Sunday Night Kung Fu theatre inside me is going nuts right now.
Keep going everyone! Get vaccinated! Wear your mask and let’s get back to semi normal ASAP! We have lots of great stuff to look forward to!