Marvel Studios has this whole movie thing down to a science, apparently. First step: pick a popular Marvel hero that is ripe for adaptation from the thousands in its library. Step two: hire a young, up and coming writer to shape the film. Step three: hire an indie filmmaker that is hungry to take on a big project. And the final step is to ultimately rule the box office. Time and time again, the studio has done this, with no end in sight. And the latest film to follow this trajectory is “Shang-Chi,” which is now moving into step three, with the hiring of Destin Daniel Cretton to helm the film.
In early December, we learned that Marvel Studios, fresh of the success of “Black Panther” and the imagined success of “Captain Marvel” (which turned out to be bigger than they were expecting), was ready to branch out its diversity tree to tackle an Asian character, with an Asian-American writer. Now, according to Deadline, the studio has found a director, Cretton, to helm the project.
For those not aware, “Shang-Chi” is expected to tell the story of the famous Marvel hero (well, “famous” if you’re a fan of Marvel Comics…”Unknown” to probably 99% of the general population), who was heavily inspired by Bruce Lee and the Hong Kong action films of the early-’70s. The character has a fairly convoluted backstory (as do most superheroes), but basically, he’s Marvel’s version of Bruce Lee and is commonly known as one of the most skilled hand-to-hand crimefighters in the world. You can almost think of “Shang-Chi” as Marvel Studios’ version of “Iron Fist,” if Netflix and Marvel TV went in a more creative direction. I digress.
Readers of The Playlist are probably familiar with Cretton’s work. The director is probably best known for his indie film “Short Term 12,” which believe it or not has a cast that includes Brie Larson (now, an Oscar-winning A-lister and star of “Captain Marvel”), Rami Malek (another Oscar-winning A-lister), Lakeith Stanfield (the best part of about a dozen recent film and TV projects), and Kaitlyn Dever (who is about to break out thanks to her role in the upcoming “Booksmart”). If anything, clearly Cretton has an eye for talent.
In addition to working with Larson on “Short Term 12,” the duo re-teamed most recently in the 2017 film “The Glass Castle,” and will do it a third time in the upcoming “Just Mercy,” which also stars MCU alum Michael B. Jordan.
Needless to say, Cretton has the filmmaking chops and connections to make his adjustment to the massive Marvel Studios machine seamless.
While no release date has been announced, it’s clear that Marvel Studios is fast-tracking “Shang-Chi,” so it wouldn’t be surprising if we hear more about this film very soon.