As many are well aware, Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings is going to be the first Asian superhero film in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Representation of all kinds is important. But representation in something as huge as the Marvel Cinematic Universe is on another level entirely. And while the Marvel Studios juggernaut has been awe-inspiring over the last decade and 23 films, Asian representation in those films has been…uninspiring. While we know that Kim’s Convenience star Simu Liu is set for the titular role, Hong Kong film icon Tony Leung will play The Mandarin, and Crazy Rich Asians breakout Awkwafina will also play a yet unnamed role, we know little else about the cast.
Recently, I had a chance to take a peak at a list of roles that are being cast for a Marvel Studios film. While I can’t confirm that that these roles are for the Shang-Chi film specifically, given the context, they certainly seem like they are. Potential spoilers below (descriptions of potential roles).
As we saw with Black Panther, one of the major areas of impact that a POC focused film can have is giving a variety of actors in supporting roles a chance to shine. While Chadwick Boseman was perfectly cast as T’Challa, I’d argue that the most memorable performances in Black Panther are from Lupita Nyong’o as Nakia, Winston Duke as M’Baku, Danai Gurira as Okoye, and of course Letitia Wright as Shuri. Further, we’ve seen how their respective careers have all continued to rise following the film. As such, I’ve been eager to see what other roles Shang-Chi will include.
A few weeks ago, MCU Cosmic reported that the film was casting for 4 villain roles – Steel Claw, Moving Shadow, Razor-Fist and Ghostmaker.
The casting call list I saw included Steel Claw, but not the other 3 characters. I’m told that this might mean that the other roles have been filled, or simply that this grouping is for a specific scene.
Steel Claw was described as a 20s-40s male with an intimidating presence. Sounded like they were looking for someone big and tall.
In addition to Steel Claw, it seems that they are looking for a number of child/youth roles. There were roles for (these are my summaries of the role descriptions and not word for word):
11 year old boy – Chinese. Speaks English and Mandarin is a plus. Computer hacker.
10 year old boy – Chinese. Speaks Mandarin. Martial artist.
7-8 year old boy – Chinese. Speaks fluent Mandarin. Martial arts ability a plus.
4-5 year old girl – Chinese. Mandarin speaking ability a plus.
10-12 year old girl – Chinese. Athletic. Speaks Mandarin and English. Martial arts ability a plus.
13-15 year old boy – Chinese. Speaks Mandarin and English. Martial arts ability a plus.
It’s interesting that with the exception of the 3 adult roles we know, and the 4 villains previously reported, all these other roles currently being cast are for children. It’s possible that this implies that a plot point in the film will be a school where someone is teaching these youth students.
It’s exciting to think about all these young Asian actors who will get a chance to be in a major Marvel film. Shang-Chi is reportedly either filming right now or will be filming soon in Australia (Simu Liu and Destin Daniel Cretton are in Australia now), so I would expect that we should get some significant casting information very soon! Shang Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings is directed by Destin Daniel Cretton, based on a screenplay by Dave Callaham, and stars Simu Liu, Tony Leung and Awkwafina. It is set to be released on February 12, 2021.
Ron is the founder and Editor-in-Chief of POC Culture. He is a big believer in the power and impact of pop culture and the importance of representation in media.