Once Marvel decided to move forward with a film based on the character Shang-Chi, buzz has swarmed about what will be the first Asian-led superhero film.
In a time where more diversity is not only demanded but also coming to fruition. This is welcomed news, especially for a group of people that are vastly underrepresented in Hollywood.
Shang-Chi was created by the legendary Jim Starlin and Steven Englehart in the early 1970s. The character, considered the Master of Kung Fu in the comics, was modeled after a real-life master of Kung-Fu Bruce Lee.
[Editor’s Note: He’s really a Senpai and master of Wing Chun, Kung-Fu, and his own innovative discipline Jeet Kune Do. This is coming from someone who has studied Kempo for two decades, but I’ll leave the martial arts talk to this guy. #BitterIDidntThinkOfWritingThisMyself #CantStandThisChaddyDaddyGuy]
Raised to be a master assassin by his villainous father, Fu-Manchu, Shang is a formidable and fearsome warrior. Nonetheless, he has a big sense of humor and a rather playful side, both of which are very prominent characteristic traits of the character.
It would appear that Marvel is fast-tracking development on the film. They have hired a writer, David Callaham, to pen the script. Casting news shouldn’t be too far behind.
Also, it’s important to understand while Shang-Chi is specified as being “Chinese” in the comics, it is likely Marvel search across the entire content of Asia to find their leading man.
So, without further ado…
The 35-year-old Korean-American actor is primarily known for his role as fan favorite, Glenn on AMC’s The Walking Dead. Yeun is a phenomenal actor and would be a major catch for Marvel if they were able to bring him on board. His role as Glenn really allowed Yeun to showcase his range while also proving that he’s no slouch when it comes to action sequences.
Yeun is not a trained martial artist and would need extensive training if he were to perform any of his own stunts as Shang-Chi. It’s possible Marvel will go after someone who is already trained, but finding an actor who is more talented than Yeun will be extremely difficult. Yeun is a name many fans will recognize immediately thanks to being on one of the most popular television series in history.
Wu is a common name that gets thrown around a lot whenever there is a martial arts-inspired role up for casting. The Chinese actor has been the star of the martial arts based show, Into the Badlands, for the past 3 seasons. His character, Sonny, is absolutely one of the most bad-ass characters to appear in any television show, and that’s 100% all because of the way that Wu portrays him.
Badlands has proven that Wu can lead a high-profile, action franchise. The fight sequences in the show are second-to-none, and really highlight Wu’s proficiency in the martial arts because that is his choreography. Having someone as skilled in the martial arts as Wu would definitely benefit a Shang-Chi film and would go a long way in appeasing the fans after the debacle of the first season of Iron Fist.
Wu’s acting ability leaves a little to be desired, but it has improved steadily with each new season of Badlands. His age, 44, could also concern the studio. Simple solution though: less talking, more Kung-Fu!
The Chinese-Canadian actor got his big break in the form of the recent Power Rangers reboot in which he portrayed Zack, the black ranger. Lin also had a role, albeit a small one, in DC’s most recent box office hit, Aquaman. The role in that film isn’t expected to expand into anything larger, so it looks like Lin won’t have any DC commitments preventing him from jumping over to Marvel to bring the Master of Kung-Fu to life.
Lin was terrific in Power Rangers. He showed a wide range in acting ability as his character Zack was one of the emotional anchors of the film. He also showcased how he can handle the physical demands of acting in an action-heavy film, not to mention Lin is trained in Muay Thai and Jiu-Jitsu. Lin isn’t a household name by any stretch of the imagination, but at just 31 years of age, he has the looks and the talent for Marvel. Shang-Chi could be that role that propels him into stardom.
A lesser known name, Ki-Hong Lee is best known for his role as Minho in the YA adaptation, The Maze Runner and its two sequels. Given a minimal amount to do in the first film, Lee’s role continued to expand with each new installment. The 32-year-old Korean-American actor really became a standout performer in those films and was undeniably one of the various bright-spots.
The Maze Runner trilogy was very heavy on action and Lee’s character was given a lot do throughout in terms of action sequences. His ability in an action-heavy role is undeniable in terms of physicality, but he also has shown in his roles (Maze Runner, The Stanford Experiment) that his acting ability is diverse and more than satisfactory. This would be by far the most high profile role of Lee’s acting career, but he has all the tools to deliver should he get the part.
Okay. I know what you’re thinking…Harold from Harold and Kumar as the Master of Kung-Fu?! Yes, John Cho is a terrific and experienced actor. His acting ability is incredibly diverse as he has played a number of roles across different genres including credits in The American Pie series, Harold and Kumar go to White Castle and more recently, the critically acclaimed drama-thriller Searching. Those roles showcase the Korean-American actor’s ability to go back and forth between comedy and drama with ease.
However, probably the more important role Cho has on his resume that would look good to the casting directors for Shang-Chi is his role as Hikaru Sulu in the most recent Star Trek reboot. That role allowed the audience to not only see Cho’s ability as a dramatic actor, but they also got to witness his ability to handle heavy action sequences. And frankly, he made Sulu look like a bad-ass! Cho’s age, 46, might be an issue, but there’s no denying his talent.