Marvel’s Shang-Chi director defends including The Mandarin and says villain won’t be a stereotype

Tony Leung Chiu-wai will play the controversial comic book villain

Destin Daniel Cretton

Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings will be Marvel’s first predominantly Asian superhero film–  and director Destin Daniel Cretton says he’s not interested in reinforcing stereotypes.

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The feature is set for 2021 release and will star Chinese-Canadian actor Simu Liu in the title role of Shang-Chi.

Cretton told The Observer: “It’s really exciting to me to be able to fill a movie like that with a bunch of Asian faces and be able to see sides of these character than what we have seen before.

“Growing up, I didn’t have a super hero that looked like me and it’s really exciting to give a new generation something I did not have.”

It’s not the lead role that’s caused concern, however – Sheng-Chi’s nemesis, the villainous Mandarin, has a history of existing largely as a racial stereotype in Marvel comic books.

This time around, with Tony Leung Chiu-wai in the role, things will be different, claims Cretton.

Tony Leung Chiu-Wai
Visual China Group via Getty Images

“I think [Leung] brings a humanity that we need for that character,” he said. “We are not looking to contribute anymore to the Asian stereotypes that we have seen both in cinema and pop culture.

“We’re hoping to just show some different sides to both Asian-Americans and Chinese-Americans and Mainland Chinese characters. Tommy is such an incredible actor and I’m excited to have him help us break some of those stereotypes because that villain could easily become a punchline.”

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Ben Kingsley previously appeared in the MCU as a phoney version of The Mandarin in 2013’s Iron Man 3.