Marvel’s latest project has been turning heads all over the world, featuring a superhero action-adventure romp revolving around the story of Shang-Chi (played by Simu Liu): an assassin who was trained by his father since he was a child. Liu is a part of a truly stellar cast, starring the likes of Tony Leung, Awkwafina, Fala Chen and Ben Kingsley, among others.
While discussing Tony Leung’s involvement, director Destin Daniel Cretton said: “A lot of that evolution did happen after Tony came on board. When I was talking to Tony about this character, he didn’t know who the Mandarin is and didn’t care. We weren’t using the name Wenwu, but we’re definitely not talking about ‘the Mandarin.’”
Continuing, “There were elements of the Mandarin, of that character, that remained, but we were talking about a dad who experienced a major loss in his life and has spiralled into despair and psychosis, and trying to desperately get back the thing that he lost. That was the character we’re talking about.”
Shang-Chi has already been labelled as a huge commercial success, with multiple reports estimating that the film will make $45M-$50M over the opening Labour Day weekend. As with most Marvel projects, the financial viability of Shang-Chi is dependent on audience members belonging to the relatively young age demographic of 18-34.
The director explained: “We’re obviously working within the context of multiple genres — the martial arts genre, the superhero genre. But from a character standpoint, I feel like the process of breaking stereotypes is really just trying to humanise the characters as much as possible…
“Give them as many sides as we could, make sure that each character had something clearly human about them that they are dealing with, that we can all connect to, whether you are of a similar ethnic background or not. To me, that is when stereotypes are broken, when you see yourself in a character.”
In a recent Instagram post, Liu spoke about the incredible impact of Shang-Chi on the mainstream consciousness. The actor explained how important this project was for cultural representation, claiming that this was a historical moment in the evolution of popular culture which will inspire children and contribute to the shifting narratives.
“The sun rose today to a world where Asian superheroes exist as the leads of their story; that is the gift that Destin Daniel and Marvel Studios have bestowed upon all of us, across all communities, everywhere,” Liu wrote in the caption. “A celebration and a sharing of culture, of language, of laughter, of excitement, of sorrow and of heartbreak.”
Adding, “I’ve said before that this film will change the world. A smile where there wasn’t one before. Pride where there was shame. Compassion where there was ignorance. If we reach out and touch even one person, then aren’t all of our lives better for it?”