Kelvin Yu says ‘American Born Chinese’ characters deserve to be part of Disney pantheon

Kelvin Yu says ‘American Born Chinese’ characters deserve to be part of Disney pantheon
via SXSW, Disney+
Bryan Ke
April 17, 2023
Kelvin Yu, the creator of the hit Disney+ series “American Born Chinese,” believes that his show’s characters should be included in the Disney pantheon alongside Marvel superheroes and Disney princesses.
Speaking at a Deadline Contender Television event on Sunday, Yu, who also serves as an executive producer of “American Born Chinese,” said the idea came to him after a trip to Disneyland.
I went to Disneyland on Friday with my son. It’s Captain America over here, Ariel over here, Moana. The Monkey King and Guanyin and these characters deserve a place on that shelf,” he said.
“American Born Chinese” features deities from Chinese mythology, including Guanyin, a Bodhisattva associated with compassion (Michelle Yeoh), and the Monkey King Sun Wukong (Daniel Wu).
The series is based on Gene Luen Yang’s 2006 graphic novel of the same name, which is an adaptation of the classic Chinese story “Journey to the West.”
“It’s honestly like if Batman and Spiderman had a baby and that baby was named Jesus,” he said. “It’s the inspiration for Mega Man and Dragon Ball and Sonic the Hedgehog, and Joey from ‘Friends.’ I’m just kidding [about Joey].”
Meanwhile, Wu also shared some of his own insights as part of the panel.
The Hong Kong actor mentioned that high school life and the show’s modern-day setting, which main protagonist Jin Wang (Ben Wang) and the Monkey King’s son, Wei-Chen (Jimmy Liu), attempt to navigate, make the series relatable, even with the “Journey to the West” influence.
It’s been 3,000 years,” Wu said. “He’s [the Monkey King] got this son who’s come down to earth on this mission and is screwing things up. Yes, my son is making mistakes like I did when I was a kid. Do I let him and let him learn from that?”
Everyone felt awkward in high school,” he continued. “Everyone was trying to figure out who they were as a teenager.”
“As Daniel just said so eloquently, being 15 sucks in every culture at all times,” Yu chimed in.
Melvin Mar, also an executive producer of “American Born Chinese,” revealed during the event that he wanted to adapt Yang’s novel ever since its release in 2006, a process that the author and Yu wrote about in the newest edition of the graphic novel.
Check out the new edition of American Born Chinese! Includes an interview with me and showrunner Kelvin Yu about how we approached adapting a book to a show,” Yang tweeted last week.
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American Born Chinese,” which will premiere on Disney+ on May 24, will feature several special guest stars, including James Hong, Ronny Chieng, Jimmy O. Yang and Academy Award nominee Stephanie Hsu.

 
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