Marvel confirmed at its San Diego Comic-Con panel that newcomer Simu Liu will play protagonist Shang-Chi in Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings. Awkwafina, who recently blew everyone away in The Farewell, will costar.
The movie will find Shang-Chi facing off against the Ten Rings organization previously seen in the original Iron Man. The Mandarin — riffed on in Iron Man 3 — will be the villain of the film. Renowned Chinese actor Tony Leung fills the roll.
The film will be written by Chinese-American screenwriter Dave Callaham (The Expendables), and directed by Asian-American filmmaker Destin Daniel Cretton (The Glass Castle). Marvel was reportedly looking to bring together a largely Asian and Asian-American cast and crew for the film, and hopes that it will have a similar impact for Asian and Asian-American audiences as Black Panther did for African and African-American audiences.
During his reveal, it was also announced that Liu only recently received the role. Liu had a screentest for the role on Sunday in New York, and was only cast on Tuesday, all leading up to his debut on-stage during the MCU panel on Saturday.
Shang-Chi was created in the 1970s around the same time as fellow Marvel martial arts master Iron Fist. While Iron Fist is a white American who happens to have martial arts skills in addition to his ability to convert chi into strength, Shang-Chi is actually Chinese and has trained in martial arts since his childhood. Occasionally, Shang-Chi is depicted as the son of the outdated, Orientalized villain Fu Manchu — this depended mostly on whether or not Marvel had the rights to Fu Manchu at the time.
Shang-Chi and the Ten Rings hits theaters on Feb. 2021.