Skip to main content

Shang-Chi Might Be Marvel's 'Iron Fist' Diversity Consolation Prize

OPINION

Whether it was always planned or if the backlash against Finn Jones being cast as Danny Rand in the upcoming Netflix Iron Fist series against public cries to diversify the character with an Asian-American actor went ignored, That Hashtag Show/MCU Exchange has heard that Shang-Chi will be joining the series.

They also report that casting will involve auditioning "males of Asian descent" exclusively. It was never certain if Marvel seriously considered casting an Asian-American actor for Danny Rand (in the comics Rand is white) but Shang-Chi has always been portrayed as Chinese and son of the villain Fu Manchu. If the rumor is true it would add some much-needed diversity to the Marvel Cinematic Universe but still fall short of showcasing a person of color as a lead in a series. Shang-Chi is relegated to a supporting role. 

The report states if Shang-Chi is received well it could lead to a solo series. How that's determined or really a possibility is questionable at this point. The Punisher was also rumored to be getting his own series but those reports were squashed by producers. It could still happen but presumably would have to wait until after Daredevil season two (beginning March 18), Luke Cage, Iron Fist, and the Defenders series. A second season of Jessica Jones could still be reality as well.

After a failed attempt to acquire the adaptation rights for the television series characters of Kung-Fu (a show which featured a white actor portraying a Shaolin monk), Marvel acquired the comic book rights to pulp villain Dr. Fu Manchu. Steve Englehart and Jim Starlin built a story around Manchu in 1973 with Shang-Chi as his unknown son who becomes the "master of kung-fu." He became very popular during the kung-fu craze of the 70s.

Since then Shang-Chi has teamed up with many of the Marvel heroes including Iron Fist. He worked with British intelligence, Heroes for Hire, and became an Avenger. Speculation has the 'Shadowland' story arc of the comics to be the basis for the Netflix series. Shadowland saw Daredevil suddenly using extreme measures to fight crime putting him in conflict with the other heroes of Hell's Kitchen. 

The inclusion of Shang-Chi and the casting of an Asian actor is a step in the right direction for Marvel but on its surface looks like a consolation. Marvel refused to reinvent and deconstruct the Asian-as-martial-artist trope by casting an Asian actor for Iron Fist so they instead embraced the "white savior" trope by casting a white actor to be trained by Asians. Now there'll be an actual person of color on screen but only as his support with plenty of villainous (presumably Asian) ninjas of The Hand as well. 

Hopefully, Shang-Chi will get a solo series but I'm not counting on it. Marvel has very little interest in producing projects where people of color are the leads in live-action. After more than a dozen feature films, Marvel Studios will release its first film directed by an African-American director, the talented 'Creed' helmer Ryan Coogler, and starring Chadwick Boseman as the titular hero 'Black Panther' in 2018. This will mark the first person of color to lead a Marvel movie in the modern Marvel Studios era (1998's 'Blade' starred Wesley Snipes but the film was produced by New Line Cinema). 

Luke Cage is the television/streaming exception where Mike Colter portrays the 'street-level' hero. Marvel's small screen offerings are a mixed bag of great gritty adaptations (Netflix), nostalgic spy adventures (Agent Carter), or loosely strung together ties to the MCU in a middling spy series (Agents of SHIELD). People of color are part of ensembles and the MCU's only current heroes of Asian descent are on the same show.

So some people misunderstand the outcry, the desire for change, the need to be included. As a person of color, we're looking for opportunities. Marvel chose to tell the stories of Ant-Man (Michael Pena played perhaps the MCU's only Latino film character) and Doctor Strange (a lead role that could have gone to an Asian actor) before those of Black Panther and Captain Marvel (Marvel's only planned solo female movie). 

Danny Rand could have been Asian-American. Search the internet under #AAIronFist and you'll get not only images of viable Asian actors but pitches as how that could work. Comic book characters are altered, retconned, rebooted, reimagined, even resurrected from the dead. Nothing is ever set in stone. 

Alas, the campaign proved fruitless but if the rumor holds true Marvel gets to have their cake and eat it too.They hold on to the white savior trope who reaps all the benefits from Asian culture and keeps the name on the marquee. The Asian martial-arts stereotype lives on with a possibility for redemption but none of the rewards of leading the narrative. The Asian character once again at the service of the Caucasian star. 

It'll be exciting to see who they cast as Shang-Chi. I wonder if it'll be anyone that was suggested to play Rand. The "master of kung-fu" will be a nice addition to the Marvel live-action universe. Meanwhile, the struggle for equal representation will continue. 


Comments

Popular posts from this blog

DC Comics March Movie Poster Variant Covers are Fantastic

DC Comics may have outdone themselves with their running themed variant covers for the month of March 2015. After some fun and gorgeous variants in 2014 like Darwin Cooke (December), LEGO (November), and Bombshells (June) to name a few DC Comics is continuing to bring some creative covers in 2015. January will feature Flash throughout the company line in celebration of his 75th Anniversary, February will bring everyone’s favorite wild card, Harley Quinn, on DC covers, and perhaps the best mash-ups of comics and famous movie posters will arrive in March.

WONDER WOMAN OF THE DAY: Fitness Model Gia Macool Embodies the Amazon Princess

The closest we'll ever get, probably, to superheroes in real life is through the great work of cosplayers. You see them at every pop culture convention from the very basic to extremely elaborate costume design. However, you don't have to be a cosplayer to enjoy dressing up as your favorite superhero from time to time. Take fitness model and entrepreneur Gia Macool for example. An accomplished fitness competitor and model, Macool is also a big fan of DC Comics' Wonder Woman. She shows her love of the iconic Amazon Princess in her fitness wear, meal prep accessories and even a full blown photo shoot in a Wonder Woman costume. 

For decades comics have featured very muscular superheroes, male and female, epitomizing the human form at its strongest. So when bodybuilders and fitness pros decide to suit up as these costumed heroes, they are the embodiment of those fictional characters in the flesh. Macool looks like she stepped out of the pages of a Wonder Woman comic with a suit …

Chuck Palahniuk and Cameron Stewart Return for FIGHT CLUB 3

FIGHT CLUB 3 asks, “What's the first rule of fatherhood?”


Bestselling novelist Chuck Palahniuk, Eisner Award-winning artist Cameron Stewart, letterer Nate Piekos of Blambot, colorist Dave McCaig and acclaimed cover artist David Mack will collaborate on the follow-up to the NEW YORK TIMES bestselling graphic novel FIGHT CLUB 2. In the 12 part monthly comic book maxi-series FIGHT CLUB 3, Marla Singer is about to deliver her second child, but the daddy isn’t her husband—it's Tyler Durden, who’s very invested in his heir, and the world he’ll inherit.


Marla, her first son, and her husband—the unnamed narrator in the novel, who now goes by Balthazar—live in a run-down motel in a sketchy neighborhood. In the FIGHT CLUB 2 graphic novel Tyler transformed Project Mayhem into Rize or Die. Now, a new group has implemented a ruthless and deviant plan to fine-tune mankind, leading Balthazar to forge an unlikely alliance … with Tyler Durden.


“FIGHT CLUB 3 is about what happens when you need …

REVIEW: 'Death or Glory' #2 by Rick Remender and Bengal

After a raucous debut, 'Death and Glory' takes a weird turn. Like a really weird turn. Imagine David Lynch and Quentin Tarantino had a baby and out came out issue two of this new series from Rick Remender and Bengal. The question is is that a good or bad thing?


DEATH OR GLORY #2  
Writer: Rick Remender Artist: Bengal Publisher: Image Comics Release Date: June 6, 2018 Cover Price: $3.99
Score: ★★★★☆ (4/5)
With a botched heist job, a bullet in her side, and all her money gone, Glory wrestles with what to do next. The cargo her ex-husband was trafficking wasn't drugs but people and after putting them all safely on a bus to Arizona, she's broke and being attended to by one of the Brazilians that stayed behind. Her scheme was pretty straight-forward - rob the money that the dirty sheriff was going to transport and use it for her dad's surgery. Easy peasy. Then it all went to hell as the sheriff recognized her, she dropped the money, and now no one is happy, not the sheri…

The Feminist Vigilantes of MTV's 'Sweet/Vicious' Come to Comics at Black Mask Studios

Women Vigilantes Get Justice For Sexual Assault Survivors In Upcoming Comic Book That Continues The Edgy MTV Series


Premiering one-week after the 2016 Presidential Election, SWEET/VICIOUS was one of the first new TV shows of the Trump Era: an edgy and provocative tale of two young women becoming vigilantes to combat sexual assaults on their college campus. As grimly relevant today as it was two years ago, SWEET/VICIOUS will continue the story of feminist vigilantes Jules and Ophelia with a comic book series written by show-creator Jennifer Kaytin Robinson, coming in 2019 from Black Mask Studios. 

The SWEET/VICIOUS comic will be a continuation of the story started in season one of the series. After Jules was raped and her University did nothing to help her, she takes matters into her own hands becoming a vigilante who seeks justice for survivors of sexual assault and other abuse at her school. When the campus weed dealer and all-around troublemaker Ophelia Mayer finds out about Jules&#…