On the heels of tomorrow’s release of Luke Cage, we hope to see more diverse leading Marvel heroes being developed for series on Netflix.
Recently, That Hashtag Show revealed a rumor that Shang-Chi would be involved with the Iron Fist on Netflix and could get his own spinoff series. We have a couple of ideas of who Marvel Television should hire to be apart of it.
If you’re unfamiliar with the character here is a little information on him.
One part hero, one part adventurer, one part secret agent. Shang-Chi is a martial arts expert and the son of the infamous literary villain Dr. Fu Manchu, turning on his father to become a superhero. The Marvel hero is also a member of the street level team Heroes For Hire, making him a prime candidate to become apart of The Defenders roster. He’s also dabbled as a spy working with MI-6.
Shang-Chi is classed as an athlete but he is one of the best non-superhumans in martial arts and has dedicated much of his life to the art, being referred to by some as the greatest empty handed fighter and practitioner of kung fu alive. Much of his physical abilities seem to stem from his mastery of chi, which often allows him to surpass physical limitations of normal athletes. He has also demonstrated the ability to dodge bullets from machine guns and sniper rifles, and is able to deflect gunshots with his bracers. Shang-Chi is also highly trained in the arts of concentration and meditation, and is an expert in various hand-weapons including swords, staves, kali sticks, nunchaku, and shuriken.
Following exposure to the cosmic radiation from the Incursions, Shang-Chi can now create an infinite number of duplicates of himself.
Some have suggested Marvel giving Shang-Chi a role in the TV universe might have something to do with the failed fan campaign to have Fist‘s Danny Rand played an Asian-American actor. Whatever the reason, this was exciting news to us, because we’ve been dying to see this character finally brought to life and if the #AAIronFist campaign helped that come together, so be it.
This is assuming Marvel doesn’t smarten up and consider making a string of feature films instead.
At one point, there were a couple of incarnations of a feature film in-development. The first being a version from Blade director Stephen Norrington, but like a lot of his projects it didn’t come together.
In 2006, Ang Lee (Life of Pi, Crouching Tiger, Brokeback Mountain, Hulk) revealed he had picked-up the Marvel project at Paramount and was set to produce with the legendary Yuen Woo-Ping attached to direct.
Yuen previously worked with Ang on the Oscar winning and financially successful martial arts drama Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, providing the fight choreographer for the film.
For whatever reason, things never came together and project has since been stuck in limbo.
Yuen is still directing movies most recently with Once Upon A Time In Shanghai and Netflix’s Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon: Sword of Destiny. It would be amazing if Marvel Television and Netflix found a way to get him involved again, as a producer or fight choreographer along with directing some episodes himself.
Besides many Hong Kong and Chinese productions, Yuen has also been heavy involved with a bunch of Hollywood productions too including The Matrix Trilogy, Kill Bill Vol.1-2, Lethal Weapon 4, and The Forbidden Kingdom.
Here’s a taste of his filmography.
I’m not entirely sure Yuen would be willing to direct all 13 episodes, but having him do one or two with other directors taking a crack at the rest of the episodes with Yuen at arms length to help develop/create action sequences could work.
I’d love to see the following directors tackle episodes, they include Toa Fraser (Penny Dreadful, The Dead Lands), Anthony Hemingway (The People vs OJ Simpson, The Wire, Treme, Battlestar Galactica, The Newsroom), Michael Goi (American Horror Story), Miguel Sapochnik (Repo Men, Game of Thrones, Iron Fist, True Detective), Karyn Kusama (XX, Halt and Catch Fire, Billions, Jennifer’s Body, The Man In The High Castle) and Alik Sakharov (Marco Polo, House of Cards, Boardwalk Empire, Game of Thrones).
Toa being a huge standout for his Maori action flick The Dead Lands and it doesn’t hurt Miguel has already worked with Marvel for Iron Fist. Having Yuen get fellow martial arts directors to help out by directing could be fun too.
In his lengthly film career, Woo-Ping has worked with martial arts superstars such as Jackie Chan early in his career directing the classic 1978’s Drunken Master. He’s worked multiple times with Michelle Yeoh, Donnie Yen and Jet Li as well. Most recently, directing Donnie and Michelle recently in the Crouching Tiger sequel Sword of Destiny.
Depending if the series is shot in the states or overseas in Hong Kong and China, Woo-Ping could be able to woo (pun intended) martial artists like Yeoh, Yen and others to get involved in the supporting casting.
Speaking of Hong Kong, it would be nice to finally see one of these shows actually set somewhere other than New York City. I know we’ll be seeing the fictional Iron Fist, but using some real settings like Hong Kong might add some interesting contrast to the same New York streets we’ll be seeing in the rest of these Netflix shows.
Marvel street level heroes don’t have only patrol New York City, it could be fun to see character attempt to protect two real cities from the threat of the criminal underworld and the occult.
Nothing says the show has to be completely set overseas. However, having a bit of a globetrotting element might be a good way to separate it visually from the other shows. He’s worked for MI-6, so it allows him to have more of a secret agent aspect and travelling to different locations to the series.
So, if Yuen Woo-Ping produces and possibly directs a couple episodes, who will possibly run and write the series?
Marco Polo creator John Fusco seems like a strong candidate and we’ve seen Marvel Television look towards other successful TV people to help run their shows. Being apart of the Netflix family could help a lot, that’s if this wouldn’t conflict with his commitments to Marco Polo.
Fusco has a strong writing background in martial arts projects with Netflix’s Marco Polo, Marco Polo: One Hundred Eyes, along with Yuen Woo-Ping’s Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon: The Sword of Destiny. He also wrote The Forbidden Kingdom, so John has a pre-existing working relationship with both Yuen and Netflix.
If Shang-Chi is indeed apart of the cast of Iron Fist, then he might be already cast. If not, I would love to see Philip Ng in the role. He’s worked with Yuen in Once Upon A Time In Shanghai, and it wouldn’t hurt to hire an actual martial arts actor for the role.
The Hong Kong-born American actor would be type of Asian-American actor fans like ourselves have been asking for to land a leading Marvel role.
Ng has previously worked with the likes of Donnie Yen, Jackie Chan, and Sammo Hung, so it wouldn’t be typecasting placing him in a martial arts role like Shang-Chi as he’s actually a martial artist.
Yuen has called Philip a future kung fu superstar and a successor to Donnie Yen.
In his is upcoming film Birth of The Dragon, Ng plays the role of the iconic Bruce Lee. It should be noted that Marvel’s Shang-Chi was created in the hope to cash-in on the Bruce Lee and kung fu craze of the 1970s.
The film’s trailer has been creating massive buzz after The Wrap pointed-out it’s been outpacing Sony’s Magnificent Seven (opened #1 over the weekend) in Facebook views, which is impressive for the modestly budgeted picture that is without a distributor.
Philip Ng is on the cusp of becoming the next martial arts breakout and Marvel/Netflix would be smart to capitalize by signing him up for a major role like Shang-Chi, that could further help his exposure in North America.
I’ve made my case for who Marvel Television should hire to tackle this series, if it’s actually happening. Only time will tell if they’ll actually move forward with this series, but after Luke Cage and Jessica Jones it’s hard to ignore that audiences are hungry for diverse heroes.
I’m sure there could be some crossover with Jessica Henwick‘s Colleen Wing and Finn Jones‘ Danny Rand in the series if the three characters end-up interacting in Iron Fist.
Would you watch a martial arts driven series like Shang-Chi? Is Asian-American actor Philip Ng a good choice to play him or do you have other casting ideas? Let us known in the comments.