Marvel Studios’ Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings, the studio’s first Asian-led movie, features a cast that is “98% Asian,” according to president and producer Kevin Feige. Starring Simu Liu, Awkwafina and Tony Chiu-Wai Leung, the Destin Daniel Cretton-directed Shang-Chi will have elements of Chinese martial arts — the titular Marvel Comics character is a world class fighter and once headlined a comic book titled Master of Kung Fu — but the project is going to be “so much more than a Kung Fu movie,” according to the prolific producer, who is readying Shang-Chi as the first Marvel Studios movie of 2021.
When appearing as a guest speaker at the New York Film Academy, where Feige participated in a Q&A with students, Feige was asked how Marvel determines which characters make the jump from the pages of Marvel Comics to Marvel Studios blockbusters:
“Sometimes you’re choosing the title hero, you’re choosing which main character or main team you want to bring to the screen,” he said. “And often times, as you’re making and developing the movie, [asking], ‘Who will come into it? Who will fit into it?’” Ultimately, Feige explained, the choice of character “can vary.”
“Like Shang-Chi, we’ve wanted to make that movie for a long time. We want to make a movie with a 98% Asian cast,” Feige said. “And then you talk about, as you develop the movie, what other heroes can you bring into it, if you need them? And in the case of Black Panther [in Captain America: Civil War], it was the greatest thing that ever happened.”
Later, when clarifying Doctor Strange sequel Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness is not a horror movie, Feige said it’s “sometimes too simplistic” to describe Marvel movies as belonging to any one genre.
“Shang-Chi is gonna be so much more than a Kung Fu movie,” he said. “But it has elements of that, which we’re excited about.”
Beyond exploring different genres — Feige said there “are lots” of other genres still left to be explored — Feige noted more diverse casts and characters was “always the plan” for the Disney-owned studio, having already found great success with Black Panther, its first film featuring a predominantly black cast, and Captain Marvel, its first female-led feature.3comments
“Every time we do a movie, we hope it’s going to succeed so that we can make another movie. That’s always the idea,” Feige said. “And with those two films in particular, Black Panther and Captain Marvel, we wanted to keep showcasing heroes from the comics that represent the world that goes to see our movies. So our intention was always to continue to do that. What’s exciting is that both those movies were such big hits that it squashed any sort of question otherwise, and I hope — and I think — it inspired other companies around the world to do the same thing and tell those different types of stories.”
Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings opens February 12, 2021.