On Friday, Jim Starlin joined the Phase Zero podcast for a live interview during the Twitch edition of the show which was also released in podcast form on all major podcast platforms. Starlin is a legend in the comics world. He is an Eisner Award Hall of Famer. Starlin co-created characters like Thanos and Shang-Chi, both of which he discussed on the Phase Zero episode. When putting together the show notes for Friday's show a few days before recording, I knew we would be talking about Simu Liu's comments regarding Shang-Chi taking on the Hulk. Fortunately, Starlin was game to join that conversation and more because he is, well, pretty awesome.
The video above showcases Starlin's full interview on the Phase Zero podcast, marking the second time I've had the opportunity to speak with the man behind the Infinity Gauntlet comic series. Starlin joined ComicBook.com's studio as San Diego Comic-Con at 2019, making this our first interview in nearly two years. We chatted about all things from Thanos returning to the Marvel Cinematic Universe to the most important elements of Shang-Chi as a character, plus what he hopes to see from Darkseid in Zack Snyder's Justice League.
Watch the interview in the video above or read the full transcript below! Phase Zero has new episodes every Friday, recording live on Twitch at 12pm ET / 9am PT and releasing on all major podcasts platforms shortly thereafter.
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Shang-Chi in the MCU
ComicBook.com: I have to get your opinion on this. So Simu Liu says Shang-Chi can take on, pretty much the rest of the Marvel cinematic universe, or the Marvel comics universe. Who do you think wins those fights? Do you think Shang-Chi might be able to take on the Hulk?
Jim Starlin: This is a conditional answer. There is the Shang-Chi that Steve Englehart and I created. And as I understand it, and which I only learned about it recently, he has additional powers now which is he can duplicate himself. If this duplication's endless, well he could take on anybody. On his own, he'd have to be very lucky to take on the Hulk. He could stay out of his reach. He does have pressure points and nerve ends. Shang-Chi might have to get a rock to hit one of those pressure points enough to get any effect. But he's basically a creature, a basic human, just big and green and all powerful. So Shang-Chi would have a shot at it. If he was being able to break into infinite copies of himself, well that sounds like he could take on the world.
I guess it's gonna come down to what the movie people decide to do about him. They have a lot of choices with Shang-Chi. And that's how I pronounce it, Shang. That they had a lot of possibilities with him that I think are really kind of interesting with the departure of the Captain America, Chris Evans character. The Marvel universe is without a moral center. He was always acting as that part. Shang-Chi on the other hand, even he's an assassin to start off with. Moral character, at least Englehart and I curated, worked with him. And I think most writers after that. So he may be in some way Captain America's replacement in the Marvel universe.
ComicBook.com: I mean it could be that moral compass that just comes in and relentlessly wants to fight for good. And I think that the MCU is gonna need that. So that's an interesting point. As somebody who has you know lived with the character, who helped create the character, to make sure that these are the essential elements of Shang-Chi that have to be in the film for the character to be done correctly?
Starlin: To transition from basically assassin to hero, an abominable will and a sort of religious discipline basically I think those are the three elements that make Shang-Chi more than any other character. You know he's basically focused on the moment and what has to be done. And that focus allows him to go on without being stopped. Makes it very hard to stop him at least.prevnext
ComicBook.com: In comics, Shang-Chi has had Tony Stark design armor for him. And just he's had so many interactions. He's worked with Black Widow, he's worked with Daredevil, or to hunt the Punisher, stuff like that. Who are some characters you think are the best for interactions with that character?
Starlin: In a version that Englehart and I worked with, I would've thought Black Widow and Captain America and more of the earthy characters would've been more a natural fit for you know collaboration. He's got an Iron Man outfit now, okay.
ComicBook.com: There was a time!
Starlin: That seems like it's taking it a little bit too far out of the character, but you know it's been years since I've worked, so it's every body else's play thing these days. But I think I would've kept him down to a more center of view. And I'd be curious to see where they take him in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
ComicBook.com: Speaking of, you made a cameo in Endgame. Is there any chance we might see you in Shang-Chi?
Starlin: No not with the COVID. The COVID and the fires in Australia and they couldn't get back into Australia. I don't think it was ever considered. I'd love to do a cameo, but you're not gonna see me in Shang-Chi I'm afraid.
ComicBook.com: That's a bummer, that makes sense though. Have you met anyone involved with the movie? Simu Liu or the director Destin Daniel Crettin?
Starlin: No we were, I was supposed to meet with the director back in San Diego before last, but we never connected up. Mix up in the scheduling. So no, so I'm coming in the dark just like everybody else on this one. I have no idea what's going to happen.prevnext
The Marvel Cosmos
ComicBook.com You've worked a lot in the cosmic side of Marvel comics. And that has really proved to be some of the most interesting stuff in comic history. Now in films and television. What do you think it is? What drew you to the cosmic side of it all and why is that the most fun part of the sand box?
Starlin: Well I went for the cosmic because doing cosmic you don't have to draw cars. It was laziness on my part. I stuck with it, because once you get off earth you can write whatever story you want. You just have to adapt it in such a way that it doesn't come off preachy. That's why I tend to do stories that are not set on earth, 'cause you're too restricted. What the reality is of everyday life. Like in Star Trek, early Star Trek's, they just said they could do stories about discrimination. With matters and do it in such a way that didn't seem like they were pounding you on the head with it, or screaming at you from a pulpit. So I've always just get away in making my own world because it's more fun, and it gives you more freedom.prevnext
ComicBook.com: Do you think Marvel Studios would be wise to use Thanos some more?
Starlin: I think they are. They made a truck money off him. And I believe I've heard some rumors that he's coming back in different things. The first I think I've heard confirmed from Marvel Studios he's gonna be in, at least a guest appearance, inside the Eternals. So he's gonna be around.
This myself, this is not anything I'm thinking up, this is something. I've read somewhere. So, yeah.prevnext
ComicBook.com: Darkseid is about to make a big screen and a small screen debut with Zack Snyder's Justice League. We've got looks at like the very young version of Darkseid. I'm curious, as an artist, what are the key elements you think of Darkseid's appearance that have to appear to make sure that you're doing this character right?
Starlin: I think his face has to look like it's made of rock. You know, I mean that's what curved it right from the start. The mass, the size, the power. With Darkseid. He doesn't move much. And I think keeping the movement down to a minimum would be important with that character. Power and limited ability.
By choice. Those are the things I think we visually most feel about it.
For more exclusive interviews and insights regarding the Marvel Cinematic Universe, download new episodes of the Phase Zero podcast very Friday!
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