Marvel actor Simu Liu
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Marvel's Shang-Chi casts Simu Liu and Awkwafina - and will feature the Mandarin

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Jul 21, 2019, 3:23 PM EDT (Updated)

Marvel unveiled its plans to bring kung fu master Shang-Chi off the printed page and onto the big screen at San Diego Comic-Con Saturday, delighting longtime comics (and Iron Man) fans with news that Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings — the new film's official title — is heading to theaters as part of the next wave of the post-Infinity saga MCU.

The new movie will pit Shang-Chi against the Mandarin, another Marvel villain whom fans have been waiting to see graduate from the comics and into the MCU. Fresh off the Boat's Simu Liu (pictured above) will play Shang-Chi, joining a cast that includes Chinese actor Tony Leung as the Mandarin, as well as versatile Future Man actor Awkwafina (though Marvel didn't reveal the character she'll be playing).

Simu Liu SDCC 2019 Shang-Chi

Photo by Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images for Disney

"It's been a really in-depth search to find someone who can capture this character," Marvel Studios president Kevin Feige told the amped crowd, which included SYFY WIRE. The studio first hinted it was eyeing Shang-Chi for a next-phase MCU movie back in December of 2018; the movie will mark Marvel Studios' first-ever film featuring an Asian-American in the lead role.

As the martial-arts-trained son of a hermetic globalist, Shang-Chi in the comics is a character raised within the confines of his father's secluded Chinese compound, with no exposure to the world outside his highly curated upbringing. When his father finally unleashes the son into the wider world, Shang-Chi begins to realize that dad might have been training him to serve the wrong side all along.

In the comics, the Stan Lee-created character Mandarin is Iron Man's chief nemesis, and he's graced the printed page since first appearing in Tales of Suspense #50 in 1964. Over in the MCU, Ben Kingsley's not-so-real Mandarin served as a red herring to lure Tony Stark toward a false flag of danger in Shane Black's Iron Man 3. Since then, there's been near-radio silence on where Marvel might take the character next, so the studio's Comic-Con reveal that both characters will be heading to the same film drew heaps of applause from the Hall H crowd.

The movie will be helmed by Short Term director Destin Daniel Cretton, with Chinese-American screenwriter Dave Callaham penning the script. "It's so exciting to see Kevin and this amazing team begin to build an MCU that reflects all the beautiful colors I see in this room," Cretton told the panel. "To be a small part of that is really special to me."

Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings is slated for a Feb. 12, 2021, release date.

Click here for SYFY WIRE's full coverage of San Diego Comic-Con 2019, including up-to-the-minute news, exclusive interviews, and videos.