‘Shang-Chi’: Tony Leung Talks Reinventing The Mandarin & Kevin Feige Disavows Fu Manchu Connection

‘Shang-Chi & The Legend of The Ten Rings” will usher in a brand new MCU superhero, Simu Liu’s Shang-Chi, and makes him their very first leading Asian hero. However, it’s not the only thing to be championing about the upcoming film as Marvel wanted to tackle a new incarnation of legacy villain The Mandarin with Tony Leung’s Wenwu, the father of Shang-Chi.

The Mandarin was originally a primary villain of Tony Stark’s Iron Man and founding member of the Masters of Evil, a supervillain team that combated The Avengers in sixth issue alongside Zemo, Nathan Garrett/Black Knight (Dane’s Whitman’s uncle), and Chen Lu/Radioactive Man.

Tony Leung recently spoke with Elle Singapore (via Slash Film) and revealed the creative process alongside how he was able to reinvention of The Mandarin for modern audiences.

“When [Marvel] offered me the role, what they wanted was for me to create a brand new Mandarin, so I got to develop my character along with the filming. I’ve never approached Wenwu from a villain’s standpoint. Rather, I tried to explore the reasons that led him to become who he is. He’s a man with a history, who craves to be loved. He is also human, and he has a family. As I read [the script], I began to consider the many reasons why he’d turn out the way he is — a sociopath, a narcissist, a bigot.”

“When director Destin Daniel Cretton first described the role to me, he said there are many layers to the antagonist role, and hoped that I could come on board. I accepted it because of the director. It just felt right. Plus, this is something I’ve never done before, to play an Asian supervillain. A chance to do something for Asia. I thought, why not?”

Shang-Chi and The Mandarin do have a racist history as multiple Asian stereotypes were infused into their comic book counterparts, but, thankfully, Marvel Studios and Marvel Comics have taken different approaches over the years.

Marvel’s Kevin Feige spoke towards those racist origins by disavowing Fu Manchu, Shang-Chi’s original comic book father. As Feige points out to Chinese outlet Sina Weibo (via Variety) it’s a character Marvel has had zero connection with for ages.

“Fu Manchu is not a Marvel character. Fu Manchu is not a character we own or would ever want to own. And that was changed in the comics many, many years ago. And we never had any intention of doing that in this movie. Fu Manchu is not in this movie in any way, shape, or form…. He was such an offensive figure and was never anything we had any interest in doing. We want heroes that look like all our fans around the world and heroes that our fans can look up to and feel that wish fulfillment to be a part of. And it’s about inviting people into our world, not keeping people out of it or keeping people separate from it. So, definitively, Fu Manchu is not in this movie, is not Shang-Chi’s father, has not been for decades. And again, is not even a Marvel character.”

Feige also said the following about Tony Leung’s Wenwu, who is one of the key elements of the film that is getting a lot of buzz.

“This is a very unique character that you can almost, almost not even call a villain. This is a story of love between a father and a son, but misunderstanding and conflict, and that’s what we’re anxious for people to see in the movie.”

‘Shang-Chi’ will hit theaters exclusively on September 3.


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