Short Term 12 director Destin Daniel Cretton has signed on to direct Marvel’s highly anticipated Shang-Chi movie. This will mark the studio’s first superhero film with an Asian lead. The project first surfaced in December, and news followed that Marvel had brought Dave Callahan on board to direct, and was fast-tracking it.
However, Cretton has now won the job. Justin Tipping (Dear White People), Alan Yang (Master Of None), and Deborah Chow (The Mandalorian) were the other directors reportedly considered.
The Shang-Chi character was created by writer Steve Englehart and artist Jim Starlin in the 1970s. He was born out of Marvel’s desire to acquire the rights to the TV series, Kung Fu, which fell through. Instead, they acquired the rights to the villain Fu Manchu and created Shang-Chi as his son.
In the comics, Shang-Chi was raised and trained by his father in martial arts, before learning his father was actually evil, and turning against him.
Marvel intends to assemble a largely Asian-American and Asian cast, and are looking at Black Panther as the model, a film which was crafted by people of African and African-American descent. The success of Crazy Rich Asians is another example, and thankfully the antiquated days where Hollywood considered any film with a predominantly non-white cast to be unprofitable are drifting into the past.
Cretton’s Short Term 12 is a mini-masterpiece, and he fits the Marvel mould of mostly hiring successful indie directors for bigger projects. Captain Marvel directors Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck had a successful indie career, as is the case with upcoming Black Widow and Eternals directors Cate Shortland and Chloe Zhao, respectively.
Cretton is currently directing an adaptation of Just Mercy, a book about the U.S. justice system. Michael B. Jordan and Brie Larson, two Marvel alumni, are a part of the film. Cretton has previously directed Larson in both Short Term 12 and The Glass Castle.
Obviously a lot of the MCU’s future is up in the air thanks to the looming Avengers: Endgame. Thus far, only Spider-Man: Far From Home has been officially announced. Obviously the studio is working on things like Shang-Chi behind the scenes, but we’ll probably get a clearer view of what the MCU’s future holds once Endgame arrives on Friday, April 26.