Marvel Studios isn’t revealing too much about its future plans ahead of the April 26 premiere of Avengers: Endgame, but one piece of that puzzle has fallen into place with the announcement that the Shang-Chi movie now has a director.
Destin Daniel Cretton, the director of the 2013 drama Short Term 12 and 2017’s The Glass Castle, will direct Shang-Chi for Marvel. The film will feature the studio’s first Asian lead character, a master of martial arts who debuted in a 1973 issue of Special Marvel Edition.
According to The Hollywood Reporter, Cretton was among several filmmakers in the running for the job, with Dear White People director Justin Tipping, Master of None director Alan Yang, Jessica Jones director Deborah Chow also in the pool of contenders at one point. The script for Shang-Chi is being penned by Wonder Woman 1984 screenwriter Dave Callaham, and the film is expected to feature a cast largely composed of Asian and Asian-American actors.
The creation of Steve Englehart and Jim Starlin, Shang-Chi is known as “The Master of Kung Fu” in the Marvel Comics universe. The character was introduced after Marvel was unsuccessful in its attempt to acquire the rights to the 1970s television series Kung Fu, starring David Carradine, and is an expert in a wide range of armed and unarmed combat styles. He eventually earned his own solo series, The Hands of Shang-Chi: Master of Kung Fu, and became a recurring guest in various other series. A recent member of The Avengers in the Marvel Comics Universe, he previously joined fellow martial arts masters Misty Knight and Colleen Wing in Marvel’s Heroes for Hire series.
In the character’s comic-book continuity, Shang-Chi is the son of the villainous Fu Manchu, and he only becomes a hero after rebelling against his criminal legacy.
Cretton already has significant experience working with one Marvel Studios star, having directed Captain Marvel star Brie Larson in both Short Term 12 and The Glass Castle, and will do so again in the upcoming Just Mercy, which also stars Black Panther actor Michael B. Jordan. There’s currently no production timeline for Shang-Chi, which still needs to find its lead actor.