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At this past summer’s San Diego Comic-Con, filmmaker Destin Daniel Cretton took the stage in Hall H to introduce Simu Liu, the star of his upcoming superhero movie Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings, the first Marvel Studios film with an Asian protagonist. The presence of the organization in the film’s title – the Ten Rings, the terrorist group that captured Iron Man in the very first Marvel Cinematic Universe movie – is essentially all we know about the movie up to this point. But in a new interview, Cretton has revealed that the film will be tonally similar to The Matrix, Lilly and Lana Wachowski’s game-changing 1999 sci-fi action masterpiece.

And to ensure that the film feels appropriately Matrix-y, Cretton and Marvel have hired The Matrix cinematographer Bill Pope to shoot Shang-Chi. Read Cretton’s recent comments below.

Cretton is making the press rounds right now promoting his new legal drama Just Mercy (which stars MCU alums Michael B. Jordan and Brie Larson), and while speaking with Collider, he spoke a bit about hiring Bill Pope, the cinematographer of The Matrix trilogy, to help create the visual look of Shang-Chi.

“[Pope] has a really beautiful style, that’s both naturalistic and grounded, but also heightened, in the best way. And anybody who can shoot The Matrix is probably gonna do great with this one,” he said. And when Collider asked if the Wachowskis’ movie was serving as a tonal comparison point, Cretton responded affirmatively: “Yeah. I think particularly for our first Asian/Asian American step into the MCU, that tone feels right.”

Pope is one of the best in the business behind the camera, having lent his talents not only to The Matrix, but to films like Army of Darkness, Clueless, Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man 2, Scott Pilgrim vs. The World, The Jungle Book, and the pilots for shows like Freaks and Geeks and Preacher. And while we’re not yet sure if Shang-Chi will include a tech component that jibes with The Matrix‘s very specific aesthetic, the fact that the Shang-Chi character is a martial arts master who’s fast enough to dodge bullets certainly makes it easy to see why Cretton is name-dropping this movie in this context.

The outlet followed up with a question about representation, wondering what Cretton’s younger self would have thought if he knew he would eventually be making this movie, and his answer echoes a lot of the conversations we’ve been having in Hollywood over the past few years:

“It would have been amazing because I would have been able to have a superhero that looked like me, rather than choosing the superheroes that I could imagine looking like me, under the mask. I was really into Spider-Man, or even the Incredible Hulk, because they I could picture myself under the Spider-Man mask, or as The Hulk because, when he was The Hulk, he was not really specific to any ethnicity. So, it’ll be nice to give that kid somebody who he can at least say, ‘Oh, that one looks like me.'”

Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings arrives in theaters on February 12, 2021.

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