Following the success of Black Panther, Marvel is continuing to diversify its cinematic universe, this time with the Asian superhero Shang-Chi. You might not recognize that name, but a movie starring the hero has been in the works for a very long time.

On Monday, Deadline reported that Marvel Studios is “fast-tracking” a feature film adaptation of Shang-Chi, a martial arts superhero who starred in Marvel’s popular Master of Kung Fu comic book series, which ran for 125 issues.

While there is no official statement from Marvel, Deadline’s sources indicate that the studio is aiming to replicate the success of Black Panther (worldwide gross: $1.3 billion) with more culturally diverse characters and behind the scenes talent. Marvel is “already looking” at a number of Asian and Asian-American directors “who want to do something as potentially monumental.

Deadline also reports that Chinese-American screenwriter Dave Callaham, whose most recent credits include DC’s Wonder Woman sequel Wonder Woman 1984, will pen the screenplay for the Shang-Chi movie while drawing upon “his own experiences as a Chinese-American.”

In the 1970s, at the height of America’s fascination with kung fu (due in part to the breakthrough popularity of action star Bruce Lee), Marvel aimed to cash in with its own martial arts superhero. Shang-Chi, created by Steve Englehart and Jim Starlin, emerged in Marvel Special Edition #15 in December 1973 before starring in his own series, Master of Kung Fu.

Shang Chi Secret Avengers Marvel
Shang-Chi, in 'Secret Avengers' #18, illustrated by David Aja.

Born as the son of pulp supervillain Fu Manchu, Shang-Chi rebelled against his father and traveled around the world as a secret agent, often teaming up with an array of characters like The Thing, Spider-Man, Moon Knight, and Clive Reston, a British spy based on James Bond. In recent years, Shang-Chi teamed up with the Avengers and trained Deadpool’s ex-girlfriend, Domino.

The late Stan Lee advocated for a Shang-Chi film years ago, even meeting with Bruce Lee’s son Brandon Lee. Margaret Loesch, the former CEO of Marvel Productions, told Inverse that Lee saw potential in Brandon Lee and thought he could play Shang-Chi onscreen.

“Stan did believe in the character,” Loesch said. “He used that as an example of the comic that could transition into the movie and television world.”

There is no official release date for Marvel’s Shang-Chi movie.


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Photos via Marvel Entertainment, Marvel