Marvel Studios seeking ethnically Chinese actor for 'Shang-Chi' and China is excited

Hanna Flint
Shang-Chi movie will reportedly feature an ethnically Chinese lead (Credit: Marvel )

Marvel Studios is looking to cast an ethnically Chinese actor to play the lead in Shang-Chi.

That’s according to Justin Kroll, a reporter for Variety, who claims agents have been told to put forward their clients only if they are of Chinese heritage.

“With comic-con closing in, hearing Marvel is putting out test offers for a group of men in their 20s for its SHANG-CHI movie,” Kroll tweeted.

“Marvel have also been adamant to reps offering up their clients for the role that they have to be of Chinese ancestry no other Asian ancestry excepted (sic).”

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Often is the case that people of East Asian descent play characters with a different East Asian background to to their own; recently Korean-American Daniel Dae Kim played Ben Daimio in Hellboy though the Dark Horse comic character is of Japanese-American heritage.

Also in the 2005 film, Memoirs of a Geisha, Ziyi Zhang and Michelle Yeoh played Japanese geisha though they are ethnically Chinese and Malaysian, respectively.

It’s no wonder then that China, which has one of the biggest markets for Marvel movies, is so excited for the arrival of a Chinese superhero, played by a Chinese actor, onto the big screen.

The live-action Mulan movie stars Chinese actor Lui Yifei (Credit: Disney)

According to Variety, chatter about the film has blown up since the casting notice was tweeted last week.

“Users have screen-grabbed [Kroll’s tweet] and spread it on China’s parallel Weibo platform, where the hashtag ‘Shang-Chi casting’ has since been viewed 100 million times,” reports the trade magazine.

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Shang-Chi will be Disney’s second big budget blockbuster featuring a Chinese lead after the release of Mulan.

The live-action remake, directed by Niki Caro, sees Liu Yifei playing the title Disney Princess and legendary hero who takes her ailing father’s place in the Chinese army by pretending to be a man.

Mulan is set for release on 27 March 2020 while more information about Shang-Chi is expected to be revealed at San Diego Comic-Con over the weekend.