Shang-Chi director

Marvel Studios has often reached into the independent film world to pluck talented filmmakers for their superhero movies, and they’ve done it again with their Shang-Chi director. The studio is reportedly hiring Destin Daniel Cretton to direct their first superhero movie with an Asian protagonist. Cretton previously directed Short Term 12, the 2013 indie that starred Brie Larson, Rami Malek, Lakeith Stanfield, and more.

Deadline has the report, which also mentions that Cretton is next directing a movie called Just Mercy that will again reunite him with Larson and see him working with another Marvel actor, Michael B. Jordan. That film “shadows world-renowned civil rights defense attorney Bryan Stevenson as he recounts his experiences and details the case of a condemned death row prisoner whom he fought to free,” but we’re here to talk about Shang-Chi.

In the wake of Black Panther‘s massive success, Marvel is expanding its scope and looking to tap into audiences that haven’t been particularly well-served at the box office. They just connected in a big way with Captain Marvel, and while their official plans beyond Spider-Man: Far From Home are a mystery, it sounds like a Shang-Chi movie is going to be a priority for them.

The martial arts master character was first created in the comics in the 1970s, but the film’s script – which is being written by Chinese-American screenwriter Dave Callaham (Wonder Woman 1984, Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse 2, The Expendables) – is going to “modernize the hero to avoid stereotypes that many comic characters of that era were saddled with.” In the comics, Shang-Chi is a “Master of Kung Fu” who is fast enough to dodge bullets, and he eventually gains the power to create an infinite number of duplicates of himself.

As for Cretton, a half-Japanese filmmaker who was born in Hawaii, he seems very much in line with the type of directors Marvel has been choosing recently. (If the pattern holds, the dramatic and comedic aspects of this movie will be great, but the action will suffer.) He broke onto the scene with I Am Not a Hipster back in 2012 (/Film’s Peter Sciretta really dug that movie) before getting all kinds of attention with Short Term 12 the following year, a small, quiet indie that featured one hell of a cast (Kaitlyn Dever, Stephanie Beatriz, and John Gallagher Jr. were also in that one). Cretton formed a solid working relationship with star Brie Larson, and went on to direct her again in 2017’s The Glass Castle. I wouldn’t be surprised if Larson put a good word in for Cretton with Marvel Studios president Kevin Feige.

There’s no timetable in place for Shang-Chi yet, and we don’t know what the studio’s approach to the character is going to be (aside from that “modernized” comment). Could Brie Larson’s Carol Danvers/Captain Marvel show up in the new movie, providing yet another reunion for her and the director? Maybe! We’ll keep you posted when we learn more.

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