For these past few months, Marvel Studios has made their intentions clear to improve the level of diversity in the MCU, but due to the company’s notoriously excessive anti-spoiler policies, we’ve so far seen few signs of how the studio plan to follow through on their words. That being said, Deadline has now reported that Marvel is fast-tracking Shang-Chi to be its first movie tentpole franchise with an Asian protagonist.
Chinese-American writer Dave Callahan has been tapped to the pen the script, with Marvel also allegedly looking at Asian and Asian-American talent to direct. Shang-Chi is set to be one of several superhero outings that are on the way from Callahan, whose upcoming releases also include Wonder Woman 1984 and the newly announced Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse 2. The scribe’s past work includes The Expendables and the 2014 Godzilla.
The character of Shang-Chi first appeared in Special Marvel Edition #15 back in December 1973, courtesy of co-creators Steve Englehart and Jim Starlin. The hero is in many ways a product of the era’s martial arts craze, with Bruce Lee’s Enter the Dragon hitting theaters mere months prior. In the comics, the character was raised and trained in an insulated Chinese compound before being introduced to the outside world to do the bidding of his powerful father. Ultimately, he becomes disillusioned and makes an enemy of the man who raised him.
Though the character’s somewhat tainted by the Asian stereotypes of the time, the Shang-Chi film will reportedly provide a modern update on him, with Marvel Studios hoping to repeat the cultural impact of Black Panther. And while details remain thin for the time being, we’re already curious to see what a martial arts MCU movie might look like.