“Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings”, Marvel’s first Asian-led superhero movie, is already generating controversy in China just days after its cast was announced at Comic-Con in San Diego.
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BREAKING: Actor Tony Leung has been officially cast as the (real) Mandarin in @MarvelStudios SHANG-CHI AND THE LEGEND OF THE TEN RINGS! (SEE LINK IN BIO) #SDCC #MCU #MarvelStudios #MarvelCinematicUniverse #ShangChiAndTheLegendOfTheTenRings #ShangChi #TheLegendOfTheTenRings #LegendOfTheTenRings #TonyLeung #TheMandarin #Mandarin #SimuLiu #Phase4
In Marvel comics, the Mandarin has been portrayed similarly to the evil Dr. Fu Manchu, a racist caricature featured in novels created in 1912 by British author Sax Rohmer.
The character, who has been described as “the Yellow Peril incarnate in one man,” was widely condemned by the Asian American community when the novels became popular and later adapted into films.
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In the 70s, Marvel adapted the Fu Manchu character, who later became Shang-Chi’s father in the comics. When Marvel Comics lost the rights to the Fu Manchu name, he has since been referred to in the succeeding stories by his real name of Zheng Zu. While not announced during the Shang-Chi’s comic-con panel, Zheng Zu is presumed to appear in the upcoming film.
The Mandarin, which was created to draw contrasts with Iron Man, has been portrayed as a Chinese mystic, with magic rings that each possesses different supernatural powers.
Chinese netizens have since been criticizing 57-year-old Leung for accepting the role of the Mandarin, who many have found to be just as problematic as Fu Manchu.
“The Mandarin and Fu Manchu are both anti-Chinese characters. I don’t understand why some fans are defending them. Are they nuts?” a netizen pointed out on Weibo.
“Naming the villain the Mandarin, a direct translation of our Chinese language is definitely an insult to China,” another user pointed out, in reference to Mandarin Chinese, the main language spoken across mainland China and Taiwan.
“I’m not going to wait until Marvel names a villain as China to boycott. I will start with boycotting Shang-Chi,” the commenter added.
Leung, who is known internationally for his rom-com films, has yet to respond to the controversy surrounding the Mandarin role.
Chinese-Canadian actor Simu Liu, star of sitcom “Kim’s Convenience”, has been chosen to play the martial arts hero Shang-Chi. David Callaham, the movie’s writer, is Chinese-American while Destin Daniel Cretton, the director of “Shang-Chi”, is Japanese-American.
“Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings” has reportedly started shooting in London and is set for release in theaters on February 2021.
Featured image via Instagram/umagazinehk