Marvel’s First Asian-Led Superhero Film, ‘Shang-Chi’ Ends The Grueling Battle Against Asians And White Actors

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The Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism at the University of Southern California administered a study on inequality infamous films in 2017 which showed how Asians, among other demographics, are left invisible in many of the Hollywood film productions. This is interpreted as low opportunities for Asians and Asian-Americans to be cast in bigger screens.

Lead roles in Hollywood movies are also dominated by Caucasian actors, as shown on the records from the same study. Of the top 100 films since 2016, 86 had lead roles that were usually played by white actors. These people are representing characters supposedly for Asians. This phenomenon largely dominated the film industry known as ‘whitewashing’ or ‘yellowface.’

As this so-called phenomenon of discriminating other races to be featured in films or movies became widespread in the US, Asians fought to be recognized. Today ends the history of a long battle against unequal visibility throughout Hollywood’s films as Marvel Studios hired its first ever Asian director for ‘Shang-Chi,’ a project which features the studio’s Asian lead.

Does Marvel Studio already hear the cries of Asian actors and directors?

Destin Daniel Cretton is chosen among other top directors to direct the feature based on the classic character known for mastering the martial arts craft. Cretton started its major project in the 2013 indie ‘Short Term 12’ which starred Brie Larson as a woman who works in a home for teenagers. And in 2017, Cretton made a key development on his career path after reteaming with Larson for ‘The Glass Castle.’ Currently, he is directing Captain Marvel and Black Panther’s Michael B. Jordan in ‘Just Mercy’ based on the life of Equal Justice Initiative founder Bryan Stevenson.

Shang-Chi, based on the comics, was born in China to a Chinese father and an American mother, which initially appeared in the 1973’s Special Marvel Edition no. 15 and was co-created by Steve Englehart and Jim Starlin after Marvel failed to get the comic book rights to the television series Kung Fu. Shang-Chi, young as he was, already faced a lot of misfortunes in his life.

He was trained by his father, the notorious pulp villain, Fu Manchu, to become a martial artist assassin but rebelled against his father’s tyrannical ways. In the comics, Shang-Chi is a master of numerous unarmed and weaponry-based wushu styles, including the use of any gun, nunchaku (a martial arts weapon consisting of two thick sticks joined at their ends by a rawhide band, rope, or chain) and Jian. He left the wrong side and later became a hero who, like other superheroes, will save the world from the evil ones.

Shang-Chi was a hit character in the ’70s and recently took the opportunity for a revival as a member of the Avengers during 2012’s Marvel Now! Publishing event. Today, the script for the incoming Shang-Chi will be put into life by Wonder Woman screenwriter Dave Callaham, who also announces that fans will be seeing an improvement on the characters as it aims to target modern audiences.

Marvel’s first superhero movie with an Asian protagonist will inspire not just Asian kids but also other those from other races. But movie critics believed that it would undoubtedly create an impact on Asian kids who see themselves being portrayed one way or another, shaping their consciousness around the said stereotypes. For most youngsters, heroes being represented by the likes of them give these kids enough confidence to be successful as well on their chosen craft someday.

Marvel is said to be planning on assembling a mostly Asian-American and Asian cast for the feature. The studio’s recent announcement on reviving the first Asian lead film may change the way on how society views the movie industry. This serves as an opportunity not just only for Cretton as the first Asian director to direct the film, but also for the whole Asian and Asian-American community to have equal representation on the industry and play the lead roles.

These people deserve good roles too, and those who are born with innate gifts on acting or directing a film will emerge and become successful regardless of their color or race. Also, the film should be a platform for expression to all and not only limited to a specific race.

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