Disney+ has given a series order for the adaptation of Gene Luen Yang‘s graphic novel, American Born Chinese, and has hired Destin Daniel Cretton (Short Term 12, Shang-Chi And The Legend Of The Ten Rings) to direct.
Cretton will also executive produce alongside the show’s writers, Kelvin Yu (Bob’s Burgers) and Charles Yu (Legion, Westworld). Yu is also the showrunner of the series.
American Born Chinese revolves around Jin Wang, an average teenager juggling his high school social life with his immigrant home life. When he meets a new foreign student on the first day of the school year, Jin is unwittingly entangled in a battle of Chinese mythological gods.
The graphic novel has been praised for its mix of genres, hopping from action to comedy to tragedy while exploring issues of identity, culture, and family. Cretton spoke highly of the adaptation’s script, saying:
“Reading Kelvin’s riveting adaptation of Gene’s incredible novel had me laughing and crying and jumping out of my chair on every page. I feel deeply connected to the characters in this story and the brilliant team bringing it to life. This show is going to be unlike anything we’ve experienced on TV, and I can’t wait for the world to see what we’re cooking up.”
Kevin Yu added: “Gene Luen Yang‘s book is a staple in American literature, and deeply important to a whole generation of readers. Destin and Melvin are storytellers working at the highest level imaginable. It’s all so exciting and so humbling to be a part of.”
The book was first released in 2006, written and illustrated by Yang and coloured by Lark Pien, and quickly won a host of awards, including the 2007 Michael L. Printz Award (for “best book written for teens, based entirely on its literary merit”), an Eisner award for Best Graphic Album, and the San Francisco Chronicle’s Best Book of the Year.
It will be interesting to see how Cretton adapts such an acclaimed graphic novel into live-action, but he’s already proven to be an incredibly empathetic filmmaker with Short Term 12, so he’s a great choice for the gig. And an adaptation of a comic frequently used in schools to help academically struggling students with social-cognitive disabilities should also be a great fit for Disney+.