Marvel has a limited amount of Asian superheroes and villains, so, it was sort of a one-two gut punch when the studio decided to avoid casting Asian actors with The Mandarin in Iron Man 3 and The Ancient One in Doctor Strange.
Luckily, Marvel Studios used Shang-Chi & The Legend of The Ten Rings to modernize the Mandarin as the father of Simu Liu’s Asian-American superhero taking the place of Dr. Fu Manchu, an even bigger Asian stereotype villain. This reworking was thanks in part to the film’s writing team of Dave Callaham, Destin Daniel Cretton, and Andrew Lanham.
In retrospect, it sounds like studio head Kevin Feige is owning up to that mistake concerning The Ancient One while speaking with Men’s Health (spotted by The Playlist) he admitted that could have done better reworking the character instead of simply hiring a white actor to avoid a stereotype landmine.
FEIGE: “We thought we were being so smart, and so cutting-edge. We’re not going to do the cliché of the wizened, old, wise Asian man. But it was a wake-up call to say, ‘Well, wait a minute, is there any other way to figure it out? Is there any other way to both not fall into the cliché and cast an Asian actor?’ And the answer to that, of course, is yes.”
Shang-Chi having a mostly Asian cast and the hiring of Gemma Chan as Sersi in Chloe Zhao’s Eternals when the major role could have gone to a white actor are signs the studio is committed to incremental change to give audiences stronger Asian characters in their superhero blockbusters. Hiring more Asian creatives is just as important as hiring more Asian talent to star in these projects.
SOURCE: MEN’S HEALTH