Shang-Chi’s Michelle Yeoh Applauds Marvel Studios for Asian Representation: "Finally We Have Our Own Superhero"

Michelle Yeoh says the Marvel Cinematic Universe "finally" gets its first Asian superhero lead in Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings, likening the arrival of Shang-Chi (Simu Liu) to Marvel's Black Panther. The Malaysian actress — known for roles in the James Bond film Tomorrow Never Dies, wuxia blockbuster Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, and sci-fi series Star Trek: Discovery — has yet to officially confirm her involvement or acknowledged her as-yet-revealed character, but applauds Marvel Studios for bringing Shang-Chi to screen as the Disney-owned studio's first Asian-led Marvel movie with stars Awkwafina, Ronny Chieng, and Tony Leung.

"I am very, very happy that finally we have our own superhero," Yeoh told BBC News after being named to this year's BBC 100 Women list. "You have Black Panther, right? You even have the Hulk, Thor, Black Widow."

"Finally, yes," Yeoh said while clapping, "Shang-Chi."

Yeoh previously drew similarities between Shang-Chi and her hit film Crazy Rich Asians, which became the highest-grossing romantic comedy since 2009 when it was released in 2018.

"When Crazy Rich Asians came out, it changed the map. It changed the whole way Asians were represented and seen. We were no longer invisible. We were no longer just a token. We were really represented in a contemporary [way]," she told TIME earlier this year. "Not just in period pieces or flying across rooftops or something like that, but in a way little girls and little boys look up and go, 'Oh my god, I can see that's me up there.' That is very, very important."

Marvel Studios president and producer Kevin Feige said last year it was "always the plan" for Marvel to continue to grow more inclusive and diverse after the blockbuster success of Black Panther, the studio's first film with a predominantly Black cast, and Captain Marvel, its first female-led film.

"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," he said in December 2019. "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."

Feige added, "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."

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Destin Daniel Cretton directs Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings, now scheduled to open in theaters on July 9, 2021.

Image Credit: Todd Williamson for Getty