Dream Casting: The All-Asian New Super-Man

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Sep 14, 2017

Dream Casting is an imaginative look at the casting process of potential Hollywood projects based on comics and other media. This isn't just about what is being made; this is about what should be made, and who we think should be the stars.

New Super-Man has turned out to be one of the most interesting comics to come of out DC's 2016 Rebirth relaunch. The title's writer Gene Luen Yang had previously written graphic novels like American Born Chinese, Boxers & Saints, and The Shadow Hero, all of which deal with China and Chinese-American identity. Interestingly, he also had a recent run as the writer of Superman.

In New Super-Man, Yang teams with artists Viktor Bogdanovic and Billy Tan to tell the story a new hero with a familiar name, who lives far away from Metropolis. Kenan Kong is a young man in Shanghai, and isn't particularly heroic until a shadowy organization gives him the powers of Superman. He joins China's own Justice League, alongside versions of Wonder Woman, Batman, and later The Flash. But the group they work for may not have their best interests — or China's — at heart. A conflict with the group known as the Freedom Fighters of China brings to light some surprising truths about Kenan's family, and about the people who gave him his powers.

A New Super-Man movie could appeal to American audiences while also doing big business in the massive Chinese market, now the second-biggest in the world. I figured it will be done in English, like the comic, so I didn't hesitate to cast American, British, and Australian actors, as long as they're of Chinese descent.

Brandon Soo Hoo as Super-Man

Brandon Soo Hoo (From Dusk Till Dawn: The Series) is a handsome young actor with just the sort of look and attitude that will make for the perfect Kenan Kong, and he also has some unrealized leading man potential.

Tian Jeng as Wonder-Woman

Tian Jeng already has action movie cred thanks to recent appearances in Kong: Skull Island and The Great Wall, which makes her a shoe-in to play the Chinese version of Wonder Woman. This Wonder Woman isn't an Amazon, though. She's something even more unusual.

Shao-Wen Hao as Bat-Man

China's Batman is a bit softer, both figuratively and literally, than the American original, but he's just as smart and on top of things. Former child star Shao-Wen Hao (Because We Are Young) would embody the part perfectly.

Awkwafina as Laney Lan

In addition to appearing in films like Neighbors 2: Sorority Rising and her work as a hip hop artist, Awkwafina hosts her own YouTube talk show, so she'll be great as young new-media journalist Laney Lan.

Lucy Liu as Dr. Omen

Dr. Omen gives the Justice League of China their marching orders, but she also has secrets within secrets, starting with who she really is. Lucy Liu (Elementary) can do just about anything, and she'll certainly bring a formidable presence to this role.

Tiffany Espensen as Mingming

Omen's right hand agent is a teen prodigy as well as a friend and possible love interest for Kenan. Tiffany Espenson (Spider-Man: Homecoming) is a young actress who's more than ready for a part like this.

Benedict Wong as Flying Dragon Emperor

Benedict Wong (Doctor Strange) has the formidable presence to play the leader of the Freedom Fighters of China, but he also has a fantastic face that can play all the necessary emotions when that dragon mask comes off.

Donnie Yen as Human Firecracker

Despite his slightly silly code name, the Human Firecracker is an extraordinarily dangerous man, which is exactly the sort of character Donnie Yen (Rogue One) specializes in playing.

Chris Pang as the Blue Condor

Blue Condor is really just a foot soldier for the Freedom Fighters, but Chris Pang (Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon: Sword of Destiny) has the look and the action chops to make the part work.

Fan Bingbing as Ghost Woman

Ghost Woman has a gun that shoots ghosts at you, which is awesome. Fan Bingbing (X-Men: Days of Future Past) has the kind of ethereal presence about her that would make this character into more than just a gag.

Harry Shum Jr. as Folding Paper Man

Harry Shum is great on Shadowhunters: The Mortal Instruments, but this choice has as much to do with his role on Glee, in which his unique skills as a dancer made clear that he's the obvious choice to play Folding Paper Man, who moves like no other human can.

Ziyi Zhang as Sunbeam

At this point I've filled the Freedom Fighters with such impressive names that Sunbeam needs to be able to hold her own in their company, which is why I'm going with Ziyi Zhang (House of Flying Daggers), whose action experience will be essential.

Jona Xiao as The Flash

The Flash is a late edition to the Justice League of China, but an essential one, and Jona Xiao (Being Mary Jane) has the perfect look for the part, especially if she cuts her hair.

James Hong as I-Ching

I-Ching is still something of a mystery, but his wisdom and guidance is essential to Kenan becoming the hero he's capable of being. James Hong (Blade Runner), still acting at the age of 88, will bring an Obi-Wan-esque gravitas to the film.