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Marvel Studios' Shang-Chi solo film moves ahead with director Destin Daniel Cretton

By Matthew Jackson
Shang-Chi Marvel cover.jpg

Marvel's Master of Kung Fu just moved one step closer to the big screen. Late last year, we learned that Marvel Studios is developing a new film starring Shang-Chi, the martial artist superhero created in 1973 by Steve Englehart and Jim Starlin. The project was reportedly "fast-tracked," with Asian-American writer Dave Callaham (Wonder Woman 1984) working on the script. Now the studio has decided on a director.

According to The Hollywood Reporter, Destin Daniel Cretton is Marvel Studios' choice to helm Shang-Chi, moving the film one step closer to finding a star and, eventually, a release date. Cretton broke out in 2013 with his drama Short Term 12, which he adapted from his own short film of the same name. The film made multiple Top 10 lists that year and earned numerous accolades for both Cretton and star Brie Larson, who went on to star in the just-released Captain Marvel for Marvel Studios.

Cretton won the directing gig over a talented shortlist that also included Justin Tipping (Dear White People), Alan Yang (The Good Place), and Deborah Chow (The Mandalorian). He's currently at work on the drama Just Mercy, which co-stars Larson and fellow Marvel Cinematic Universe alum Michael B. Jordan.

Initially created during the martial arts cinema craze of the 1970s, Shang-Chi is now positioned as a milestone character for Marvel's ever-expanding cinematic universe. He has the potential to be for Asian and Asian-America audiences what Black Panther was for African and African-American audiences, while also retaining a broad blockbuster appeal. Because of that, Marvel's already building a creative team comprised of Asian-American filmmakers and plans to build a cast of Asian and Asian-American stars, in the hopes of crafting a film that's as much a cultural touchstone within the superhero subgenre as it is a commercial success.

Shang-Chi joins an ever-growing field of developing projects that will reshape the MCU following the events of Avengers: Endgame. That field already includes a Black Widow movie, sequels to Black Panther and Doctor Strange, and an Eternals film, and while many of Marvel's ambitions for its future remain in shadow, that's an exciting lineup already.