Marvel's First Movie With An Asian Lead Character Is Moving Forward

The comic book studio has hired Destin Daniel Cretton to direct "Shang-Chi," its first movie centered on an Asian superhero.

Marvel is moving forward on “Shang-Chi,” the comic book superhero studio’s first movie featuring an Asian lead character, building on the success of “Captain Marvel” and “Black Panther” and the studio’s efforts to feature more diverse superhero characters.

The studio has hired Asian-American director Destin Daniel Cretton to direct the project, Deadline reported Wednesday, and The Hollywood Reporter and Variety confirmed.

Plans for “Shang-Chi,” based on a Marvel comic book character from 1973, were first unveiled in December, when Marvel hired Asian-American screenwriter Dave Callaham to write the screenplay and embarked on a search for an Asian director to lead the project.

According to The Hollywood Reporter, Marvel also plans to feature a largely Asian and Asian-American cast in the movie.

Cretton is best known for directing the critically lauded indie “Short Term 12” in 2013, starring Brie Larson, who was up-and-coming at the time, as a supervisor of a group home for teenagers experiencing mental health issues and abuse.

Director Destin Daniel Cretton will helm "Shang-Chi," Marvel's first movie centered on an Asian superhero.
Director Destin Daniel Cretton will helm "Shang-Chi," Marvel's first movie centered on an Asian superhero.
Evan Agostini/Invision/AP

He is currently directing “Just Mercy,” an adaptation of lawyer and civil rights advocate Bryan Stevenson’s memoir, featuring Larson and Michael B. Jordan.

Larson just starred in “Captain Marvel,” Marvel’s first solo movie with a female main character, which earned $455 million in its opening weekend, the biggest global box-office debut ever for any female-led movie.

Jordan appeared in 2018’s “Black Panther,” Marvel’s first solo movie with a black lead. The landmark film, featuring an almost entirely black cast, became the first superhero movie to receive a Best Picture Oscar nomination and won three Oscars last month.

Both movies’ record box-office hauls have helped demolish the long-standing Hollywood myth that mainstream movies about women and people of color don’t perform strongly with audiences.

Marvel likely hopes “Shang-Chi” will do the same, following the success of last year’s “Crazy Rich Asians,” which smashed box-office records after becoming the first Hollywood studio movie in 25 years to feature a majority Asian cast.

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