Marvel Studios is reportedly in talks with Destin Daniel Cretton to direct their upcoming martial arts superhero film Shang-Chi. The film will feature the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s first Asian lead character and director. Wonder Woman 1984 scripter Dave Callaham is currently working on the screenplay. Marvel put the project into active development late last year.
Cretton reportedly beat out Justin Tipping (Dear White People), Alan Yang (Matser Of Young) and Deborah Chow (Jessica Jones, The Mandalorian) for the gig.
Shang-Chi was created for Marvel Comics in 1973 by writer Steve Englehart and artist Jim Starlin, after the publisher had been unsuccessful in acquiring the comic book rights to the David Carradine-starring TV series Kung Fu, though there is more than a little influence from the great Bruce Lee in the character as well. The character was raise as an assassin by the evil “yellow peril” pulp villain Fu Manchu before rebelling and becoming a good guy. After it was discovered by Marvel that Fu Manchu was not in the public domain as it had previously assumed, that portion of the character’s backstory was modified.
Shang-Chi is one of a number of superhero characters in the Marvel stable that use some form or another of martial arts. Their most high profile character is probably Iron Fist, who was featured in one of the four interconnected TV series that Marvel produced for Netflix. That series was cancelled after two seasons and had faced criticisms from some over concerns of cultural appropriation, as the lead was a western Caucasian.
Cretton has an impressive resume of indie projects leading up to this appointment. He first generated notice with the thriller Short Term 12, which starred Brie Larson. He reteamed with Larson in 2017 for The Glass Castle. He is currently in production on the drama Just Mercy with Black Panther co-star Michael B Jordan.
Marvel has had not comment on the report, but the studio has been pretty tight-lipped about any of its films they are planning post-Avengers: Endgame which opens next month.