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Shang-Chi Director Reveals The Difficulties In Casting Marvel's Newest Hero

After going a whole year without a Marvel movie, the Marvel Cinematic Universe is finally coming back to full force starting with the release of "Black Widow" in July 2021. Now we are finally getting to check out the debut of a whole new story in "Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings," which introduces the world to the MCU's first Asian superhero. The movie, which comes out in theaters on September 3, 2021, is a new take on the classic Marvel comics featuring the character of Shang-Chi. Shang-Chi, played by Simu Liu, is a skilled martial artist living a normal life in the city of San Francisco, only to be dragged back into the trouble of the Ten Rings organization, which is led by his father Wenwu (Tony Leung), also known as the Mandarin. 

As many Marvel fans are well aware, Shang-Chi and many other characters in the new movie are a monumental, very important new addition to the MCU, following the effort to have increased diversity and more representative stories going forward, seen through other films like "Black Panther" and "Captain Marvel." With Japanese-American filmmaker Destin Daniel Cretton at the helm, "Shang-Chi" had a huge task in picking who would play the new hero, and the search was apparently quite difficult. Speaking with Variety about the casting process and how they ended up choosing Liu, Cretton revealed the real reason that casting Shang-Chi was so hard. 

There were casting challenges due to lack of diversity in the entertainment industry

Cretton has worked with Marvel stars like Brie Larson and Michael B. Jordan on his past indie films, but he never really pictured himself directing a big-budget superhero film. So when he signed on to the task, Cretton knew that he had a big responsibility to cast the right person as the trailblazing character of Shang-Chi. But it was not an easy job, with Cretton explaining that this was mainly due to the lack of diversity in the entertainment industry, and so "there wasn't just a list of incredible actors that we could choose from." While Shang-Chi is the first Asian superhero for Marvel, he is also Chinese-American, with the ability to speak both English and Mandarin, and Cretton knew that he had to find someone who checked off these boxes and could really understand the character's experiences, but the "list [of actors] just got way smaller with those attributes." 

Because of a lack of representation in movies and television for Chinese or Chinese-American actors, there weren't that many people out there to pick from that met all the requirements for this character. While this is a disappointing shortcoming of the industry right now, Cretton took strength from knowing that "Shang-Chi" would open the door for more roles for Asian actors of a variety of backgrounds, giving the next movie more actors to choose from, while hopefully encouraging "some other talents to go for it and try. Because we need more talent from this ethnic representation for sure." Luckily for "Shang-Chi," Liu came along, and he perfectly embodies Shang-Chi and his story. Fans can't wait to see what's next for the character in the MCU.