Marvel Studios is reportedly eyeing its first tentpole superhero franchise with an Asian lead, focused on the character Shang-Chi. The studio is said to be keen to replicate the success of Black Panther by applying similar sensibilities to the production of a film with Asian and Asian-American themes.
Deadline reports that the screenplay will be penned by the Chinese-American writer Dave Callaham, and the studio is currently looking into Asian and Asian-American directors. Callaham has had a hand in co-writing Wonder Woman 1984, and he’s currently at work on a sequel to Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse. He also has comic credits to his name, having written the scripts for Jackpot and America: The Motion Picture.
Shang-Chi in the comics was launched alongside the rise of films like Enter the Dragon, and meant to capitalize on that success. The character is the son of a reclusive Chinese globalist, raised and educated in his personal compound. Once he’s eventually allowed to explore the outside world to help with the family business, he learns his father isn’t exactly a humanitarian, having earned the nickname The Devil’s Doctor. Shang-Chi is one of the few completely mortal Marvel heroes, though his skill in martial arts has made him a match for superpowered opponents.
The character would likely be a part of the next phase of Marvel films, which will begin after this phase wraps up with the release of Avengers 4. That movie is said to be book-ending the first decade-plus of Marvel movies that began with Iron Man. After the cliffhanger ending of Avengers: Infinity War, we just have Captain Marvel and then Avengers 4 to go. We have yet to see much of either of them, but that could change soon.