Shang-Chi, Marvel’s first Asian-led superhero film, will simplest perpetuate outdated martial arts myths
Marvel Studios is bringing its first Asian-led superhero film to its Marvel Cinematic Universe, and it’s long past due, with Seventies comic ebook big name Shang-Chi reportedly getting the silver screen treatment. It sounds promising – Marvel desires to comply with the Black Panther blueprint and Ryan Coogler’s example, with a film about an Asian protagonist and predominantly Asian forged, written by Asian writers and filmed using Asian filmmakers. American director Destin Daniel Cretton is on board, in step with reports, with a screenplay through Chinese-American screenwriter Dave Callaham in location. The Academy Award-prevailing Black Panther, with its majority black forged, changed into lauded for its cultural impact as a groundbreaking party of black tradition. It appears Marvel desires to do something similar with its Shang-Chi movie through creating a love letter of types to conventional martial arts.
Which is excellent on the face of it – who doesn’t love an excellent kung fu flick? – But it can handiest assist perpetuate the modern-day debate surrounding its effectiveness as a form of contemporary fight. You can probably photograph Xu Xiaodong, the outspoken Chinese combined martial arts fighter, sounding off about the film on social media already.
For his problems, Xu has needed to put up with defenders of the conventional martial arts community ganging up to harass him in public or even coming to his Beijing gymnasium to project him to fights, all to defend the respect of kung fu. While Shang-Chi has historically been depicted in Marvel comics as a regular guy without a superhuman ability, he is capable of shatter steel and is quick enough to circumvent and deflect bullets by way of learning his frame’s chi. Sound acquainted? He’s made out to be the first-class hand-to-hand fighter inside the Marvel universe, even stronger than genetically more suitable terrific soldier Captain America. He doesn’t have an active healthy of armor or tremendous financial institution assets like Iron Man; nor the heightened senses of Daredevil; nor the unbreakable palms of Iron Fist.
Netflix’s Iron Fist series sparked a backlash because of its orientalist stereotypes, with the trope of a white protagonist becoming the area’s most beautiful martial artist. The display changed into canceled after seasons. Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) film Doctor Strange become additionally criticized for whitewashing a principal person with its casting of Tilda Swinton as the Ancient One and with its stereotypical storyline of a white man going to Tibet to research from a wise Asian man and turning into an effective hero. Thankfully, the Shang-Chi film looks determined to ignore all that nonsense in what is a great leap forward for diversity in the Marvel universe.
There is only a threat the movie may want to perpetuate the myth of martial arts being all effective, that’s intricate in these days’ world. The unique introduction of the Shang-Chi person become a shameless attempt to milk the coins cow of the Nineteen Seventies Bruce Lee-inspired martial arts movie craze. Shang-Chi turned into the son of notorious villain Dr. Fu Manchu, a Chinese crook mastermind and a racially insensitive person who could be nowhere near this new film, fortunately. But the unique Marvel version The Hands of Shang-Chi: Master of Kung Fu (sounds just like what a comic approximately one in all Xu’s combatants would be titled) become a right away hit in 1973.
The individual’s popularity waned in the Eighties, but he’s had a chunk of resurrection in latest years, with a few revisionist histories inside the 2010 collection Secret Avengers effectively doing away with his link to Fu Manchu. Shang-Chi’s motivations additionally make for a beautiful protagonist on paper – after growing as much as study the fact about his father’s evil criminal empire, he travels the sector giving wrongdoers their comeuppance, fighting alongside other Avengers once in a while. Presenting an all-powerful martial artist without superhuman power even though, in a universe approximately superhuman characters, will most effective further deify kung fu and its practitioners, at a time when serious questions are being requested about its effectiveness as a cutting-edge shape of combat.