Marvel Eyes China With ‘Shang-Chi And The Legend Of The Ten Rings’
In Hollywood’s latest attempt to score in the huge, but highly restrictive, Chinese market, an Asian actor has been cast as a leading Marvel superhero for the first time.
“Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings,” out on Friday, takes the 25th installment in the wildly popular Marvel film series into mythical China, where enormous beasts, mysticism, and kung fu collide for a tale about the difficult relationship between a son and his father.
The titular son, played by relatively known Chinese-Canadian actor Simu Liu, fled his controlling dad as a teenager, after being sculpted into a deadly assassin, and washes up in the United States.
There he lives anonymously, palling around with the underachieving Katy, played by Awkwafina (“Crazy Rich Asians”) until his father, Hong Kong superstar Tony Leung, sends a sinister gang to chase him home.
“Shang-Chi” locates itself firmly in the record-grossing Marvel Cinematic Universe series of movies, with an amusing reprisal of Ben Kingsley’s washed-up actor Trevor Slattery from “Iron Man 3.”
Its value for Marvel Studios, and owner Disney, however, was expected to be a vehicle for expanding into the Chinese market.
Asian-American actress Jodi Long told AFP at the film’s world premiere in Los Angeles.
“It’s very moving because it’s been a long time coming to have an Asian superhero and a movie that celebrates not only our culture but our humanity. And I think that’s really important in this time of Covid and xenophobia.”
Zhao won two Oscars including a historic best director statuette this year for “Nomadland,” but her success has been censored in China after a nationalist backlash over years-old interviews in which she appeared to criticize her country of birth.
The excitement in China for “Shang-Chi” also appears to be lukewarm among some social media users.