Expect some news about Disney/Marvel Studios’ ‘Shang-Chi’ this weekend at San Diego Comic-Con, but for now, here is a bit of a RUMOR about the casting process of finding its star. It wasn’t long ago that Hollywood had no problems with “whitewashing” in casting. Most recently, in 2017, Caucasian actor Ed Skrein was cast to play the Japanese-American character Ben Daimio in ‘Hellboy’. After a backlash, Skrein voluntarily left the role, with Daniel Dae Kim being hired to replace him.
Now it seems that Disney and Marvel Studios are avoiding whitewashing completely for its first movie starring an Asian character. Variety’s Justin Kroll reports:
With comic-con closing in, hearing Marvel is putting out test offers for a group of men in their 20s for its SHANG-CHI movie. Marvel have also been adamant to reps offering up their clients for the role that they have to be of Chinese ancestry no other Asian ancestry excepted.
— Justin Kroll (@krolljvar) July 13, 2019
Not only are the studios determined to cast an Asian American– which was kind of a no-brainer– but they are insisting that the actor be of Chinese ancestry. They will not just be looking for any kind of Asian.
Most Americans probably wouldn’t be able to tell the difference, but Asians and Asian Americans are typically pretty good at recognizing different nationalities. (I can say that. I’m half-Thai. We can tell.) Considering that director Destin Daniel Cretton is part Japanese, and screenwriter Dave Callaham is of Chinese descent, they probably can as well, and aren’t abiding by the old Hollywood “Asian is Asian” way of thinking.
Just as an example, last year’s hit ‘Crazy Rich Asians’ featured a mixture of nationalities, all playing Chinese, but Constance Wu is of Taiwanese descent, Henry Goulding is English-Malaysian, Awkwafina’s parents are Chinese-American and South Korean, Ken Jeong is of South Korean descent, etc.
For the record, the two names that have surfaced so far as potential candidates to play Shang-Chi are Ludi Lin, who is Chinese, and Ross Butler, who is of Chinese descent.
Hopefully, we’ll learn more about ‘Shang-Chi’ once SDCC kicks off.