“Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings” features Simu Liu as the titular main character, but another star of the film left Marvel chief Kevin Feige so flabbergasted that he could hardly speak.
High praise: Hong Kong legend Tony Leung, who plays Shang-Chi’s father Wenwu, aka the “real” Mandarin, has been touted as the MCU’s best villain yet.
- In an “Ask Me Anything” on Reddit, Liu said working with Leung had been “a master class in acting” and that he was “every bit as legendary as the legends say.”
- The president of Marvel Studios was also star-struck by Leung as he was “nearly speechless” after meeting the actor, according to Screen Rant.
- “Tony Leung does seem like a whole different layer of movie star,” said Feige “He is a very, very talented man. I don’t feel it was a masterstroke for us, I feel we were lucky that he chose us to make his first Hollywood film appearance in [Shang-Chi] and give all of himself and all of his talent to creating this amazing, amazing character of Wenwu. I’ve been around a lot of movie stars and a lot of living legends, but I was nearly speechless when I met him briefly on the set. Because he seems like such an otherworldly star directly from the sky [laughs].”
Breaking stereotypes: Leung didn’t want to approach Mandarin in “Shang-Chi” as a villain but as a human being with flaws and a backstory.
- The actor worked closely with Marvel and director Daniel Cretton to shape a more nuanced character.
- Cretton knew when he wrote the script with Dave Callaham and Andrew Lanham that they wanted to do away with the original Mandarin, a comic book character that has carried some of the worst Asian stereotypes.
- “I just feel very happy that the conversation isn’t even remotely about a potential stereotype,” Cretton said in a Vanity Fair interview. “It’s just about a cool character, which is what we really hoped for. The biggest danger of Wenwu was him being a one dimensional stereotype. To see audience’s response to Tony’s version of this character is very satisfying.”
“Shang-Chi” is in theaters now and also stars Michelle Yeoh, Awkwafina, Meng’er Zhang and Fala Chen.