Cast for “Shang-Chi” Announced; Tony Leung to Portray The Mandarin

“Shang-Chi” will be Tony Leung’s first Hollywood film!

At the Comic-Con International Festival, Marvel announced its plans for the upcoming fourth quarter of the year. Besides revealing the cast of Eternals, it also unveiled the cast members of Shang-Chi: Legend of The Ten Rings, the first superhero movie to be headlined by Chinese actors. Among the cast lineup, fans were most excited about veteran Hong Kong actor Tony Leung Chiu-Wai (梁朝偉), who is confirmed to be taking on antagonist role The Mandarin. 

The Mandarin’s character had previously appeared in Iron Man 3, played by Oscar-winning lead actor Ben Kingsley. Besides Tony Leung, rising Asian American star Akwafina will also be part of the cast.

The titular role of Shang-Chi has been confirmed to be played by Canadian Chinese newcomer Simu Liu (劉斯穆). According to the Marvel website description, Shang-Chi is a “Master of Kung-Fu” who seeks peace and harmony in a weary world while opposing those who would tear it down. Previously rumored to be part of the cast lineup but notably missing is Donnie Yen (甄子丹).

Slated for release in February 2021, the film will be 57-year-old Tony Leung’s first Hollywood movie. In 1995, the actor starred in Vietnamese film Cyclo <三輪車伕>, which won the Golden Lion at the Venice Film Festival. Interestingly, Tony’s onscreen persona in the 2018 Chinese animated film Monster Hunt 2 <捉妖記2> has a slight resemblance to Mandarin. Recently, he has been busy filming Chinese film Fox Hunt <獵狐行動>, which also stars former Bond girl, French-Ukrainian actress Olga Kurylenko.

Simu Liu as Shang-Chi


This article is written by JoyceK for

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  1. Simu Liu, I really hope he doesn’t get too bigheaded for Kim’s Convenience. I like the show and I like him in it.

  2. I’m crossing my fingers that Awkwafina won’t ruin this movie. Any other Asian but her.

  3. The latest news is that Mainland Chinese audiences are claiming that The Mandarin is a character deliberately created by the West to be anti-China and are pretty much demanding that Tony Leung step down from playing the offensive role. Honestly, all this meddling from Mainland in the international movie industry is getting out of hand (this is just one in a long line of recent examples where China has deliberately tried to meddle in movies on an international platform). Basically anything that portrays China in a negative light is not allowed (even if it’s an event that is a legitimate part of history). In my opinion, these movies should stay away from trying to cast any artists from the Hong Kong and Mainland China markets if they want to avoid trouble…just cast artists who already work in the Western market, that’s the safest route….

    1. @llwy12
      if these people can’t handle china being portrayed in any negative light, then don’t watch any foreign media. no country is interested in making another country look good. even if the mandarin is supposedly to cause damage to the image of china, i think hollywood could do something to redirect the focus since china is such a big market now.

      1. @m0m0 @anon I completely agree with you guys….and to be honest, what the Mainland audiences are claiming doesn’t even make sense….but this is China we’re talking about and a lot of what they do defies normal logic. We’re talking about a country that has no problems pulling a movie from international release that took one of their own production companies (Huayi Bros) over $80 million to make (they literally pulled the movie last minute from the international film festival even though the cast and crew were already AT the festival), purportedly because the film depicts a specific moment in history, during the second Sino-Japanese War in 1937, when Chinese Nationalist forces successfully defended a Shanghai warehouse against Japanese Imperial forces (a true event that actually did happen during the war) – it is rumored that the current Communist Party leadership didn’t like the fact that the Nationalist forces were portrayed as the heroes (those familiar with China’s history and the conflict with Taiwan will probably understand why) and also there are scenes of the old Nationalist flag raised in triumph, which obviously wouldn’t sit well with a government that, for decades, has tried hard to erase (or at minimum, “severely downplay”) parts of their history that they view as “black marks” and also brainwash its own citizens to do the same thing.

        I’m not a comic book fan and didn’t watch any of the Marvel movies, so not familiar with the story or character of The Mandarin, but from the little I’ve read of the situation, it sounds like Mainland audiences are overreacting to an issue that has no relevance to anyone but themselves. I see this as akin to Mainland Chinese citizens’ abhorrence to anyone outside China referring to Taiwan as “a country” (remember all those instances of Mainlanders threatening to boycott airlines and other international companies merely for putting Taiwan under the list of “countries” the companies service?) – an issue that has pretty much zero relevance in the West, yet is a huge deal in China (speaking of which, there’s the newest “controversy” just yesterday about the Top Gun trailer that was shown at Comic-Con, where fans are alleging that the Taiwanese flag was deliberately left off Tom Cruise’s jacket because the movie is co-financed by Tencent and they don’t want to risk offending China)….which is why I say that production companies in the West (specifically Hollywood) should just stick to markets that won’t get easily offended at every little thing that they view damages their “national pride” (but of course, that’s wishful thinking considering the co-financing trend between Mainland and Hollywood nowadays).

        Not sure how this whole controversy is going to play out, but given what they did with the Top Gun sequel in order to “pander” to the China market, don’t be surprised if Marvel decides to change The Mandarin character to something more China-friendly (especially since China IS the second-biggest box office in the world now)….

    2. @llwy12

      Why would Marvel deliberately create The Mandarin to be an anti-China character when one of the reasons this movie was produced in the first place was to capture the Chinese audience?

      It makes little sense to produce a movie to be intentionally offensive. Don’t get me wrong, I am usually the type that jumps at the chance to defend China whenever there are unjust, unfair and bias news reports, but this seems over-the-top. No one knows the story of Shang-Chi except those directly involved.

      1. @terrycrews19 Yup…it’s all about China market now….I don’t know the exact stats, but I don’t think it would be a stretch to say that more than half the movies in Hollywood nowadays are either co-financed by China in some way, shape, or form, OR they are geared heavily toward the Chinese market (meaning the movies are made with the intent to release in China so anything that would be offensive to them are eliminated as much as possible).

        This article about the Top Gun sequel controversy pretty much sums up Hollywood’s relationship with China in the current market:

      2. @llwy12 @terrycrews19

        With the Chinese market on the verge of surpassing the #1 box office (USA) in a few years, it’s just a matter of time before Hollywood will need to cater to the Chinese audience.

        I’ve read some crazy statistics like Hollywood’s presence in Chinese movie theatres are so underdeveloped in 2nd and 3rd tier cities that they are opening like 10 movie theatres in China every day. I could be wrong about the exact number, but it’s something like that.

    3. @llwy12 The diabolical and sinister vampire-like Fu Manchu has outraged Asian Americans as well. The character of the Mandarin will probably be created into a more human image if they’re targeting the current Chinese audience.

      Out of curiosity, were you offended by Micky Rooney’s portrayal of the buck-toothed squinty-eyed Asian man in Breakfast at Tiffanys and the Long Duk Dong character in 16 Candles? Asian-American activists have protested against such racist depictions for decades without much progress. Now with the huge market that is China, they’re using their power and money to have their say about offensive portrayals
      and subject matter.

      1. @msxie0714 Oh, so the Mandarin is Fu Manchu? As I said earlier, I don’t read comics and I don’t follow any of the Marvel stuff (my knowledge of the characters is pretty much limited to knowing of the main guys such as Iron Man, Captain America, etc, but I don’t know any of their backstories), so wouldn’t have made the connection. The way I see it though, if the Mainland audiences have a problem with the character, then why not initiate dialogue with Marvel about it and understand what the portrayal will be like this go around first? Maybe they are willing to make changes to the character? That’s much more productive than attacking Tony and calling him a “traitor” and demanding that he turn down the role….

        As for the other 2 movies you mentioned, I never watched either one so can’t comment. With that said, if the portrayal falls into racist territory, then yes, it makes sense for Asians (and Asian-Americans to protest against it).

      2. @llwy12 Chinese news media reported the casting without any opinion. It’s not the government that attacked Tony for taking the role, but the outspoken and emotional c-netizens who called him traitor.

  4. i am bummed that ludi didn’t get casted as shangchi. i think he’s way hotter…just my opinion.

    1. @m0m0

      You are not the only one. I’m also bummed that it’s not Ludi Lin or some other hotter actor like Lewis Tan.

      I think the casting people choose the most chinese looking actor they can get. Ludi and Lewis look a bit mix (which is what the comic’s Shang Chi is).

      This actress they cast for the movie is even more stereotypical chinese looking. Check out awkwafina. I know she’s talented and all, but, I do believe her stereotypical chinese look add weight to her casting. I wonder who she is cast as.

      1. @kidd
        even the dude they cast look stereotypically chinese. awkwafina was in crazy hot asian and i believe that was where people started paying attention to her. i think her acting is a little bit too over the top and i don’t really understand why so much limelight on her. maybe it is the way she looks, the standard look most westerners believe all east asian should look like

      2. @m0m0 Awkwafina has actually been getting a lot of praise for her performance in The Farewell, where she plays a character that is a huge departure from the 2 roles she’s been known for recently (Crazy Rich Asians and Ocean’s 8). The role is a serious one and is emotionally nuanced, which she was able to nail…that role proved to me that she’s got acting talent so I’m fine with her casting here.

      3. @kidd

        in other words, being most “chinese-looking” is chinese code for fugly, but being mixed is most attractive.

      4. @msxie0714 That statement is so so sad, irrational and infuriating bc it rings true according to many people, including or rather majority of Chinese.

        Holy shyte, the hate on Akwafina just because she hadn’t go under the knife is unbelievable…

      5. @msxie0714

        No. You translate my thought wrong. Notice the word ‘stereotypical’ that I included. I mean the ‘chinese look’ in the eyes of western people. Yes, I don’t find the stereotype ‘chinese look’ attractive. But, there are many Chinese that does not look mixed that are still very attractive.

        I mentioned mixed because these actors do look mixed and maybe to Marvel’s eyes, they don’t look Chinese enough for Marvel’s first Chinese hero. I don’t think the casting people know or remember that Shang Chi is mixed. His mother was not mentioned much and the comics usually drawn him quite Asian look.

        Anyway, Simu Liu is un-Shang Chi like to me when I first saw the picture. But, I’m more OK with it now after closer look. He still does not look like my Shang Chi, but, I can accept him now.

      6. @kidd
        Simu Liu bears a strong resemblance to popular Chinese actor Lei Jiayin who’s starring in current hit drama “Longest Day in Chang’an” (on youtube or amazon prime). He’s not the stereotypical pretty boy some Chinese audiences love, but is very manly and quite sexy in the fight scenes.

      7. @msxie0714
        i don’t think she’s ugly in everyday standards but just don’t understand why hollywood keep putting these steriotypical asian looks out there. not all of us look that way, many of us don’t in fact.
        black panther for example, is handsome black dude and so is the villain in the movie. but for the new shangchi, he’s got the body, but not the face that majority of chinese/asian person would consider looking like us. tony leung for example, is not exactly the handsome type in my eyes, but he looks more like chinese/east asian. i just don’t understand why they can’t cast someone who doesn’t fit the western definition of stereotypical asian look type.

      8. @m0m0 but they also put the spotlight on actresses like constance wu, ali wong, gemma chan who are definitely attractive and varied in looks.

        but you bring up a good point. it’s the same reason why i ask why, in the international modeling community, asians with very stereotypical/caricature looks are found. and not ones that are considered beautiful by the asian community. part of me thinks this is obvious discrimination/insensitivity at work, but then part of me realizes this might be good for showcasing the various templates for asian ‘beauty’ in the world. people shouldn’t fit into the mold of what’s considered beautiful in order to make it big – western society is in some ways, redefining what that means and helping to excavate some facets of aesthetics that we Asians are ashamed of, in hopes of helping the world see its beauty? i know for sure chinese people would never allow a model with cross-eyes model and represent them, yet western society would, like kate moss.

      9. @coralie

        Westerners in general are more accepting of people with flawed looks with character, whereas east Asians and Chinese especially are very discriminatory and harshly judgemental of those who don’t have the superficial ‘perfect’ looks.

  5. I wonder why they use an Iron Man villain as Shang Chi’s first villain. I’m not familiar with The Mandarin in comics, but, I check out his wiki page and didn’t find any mention of Shang Chi in it.

    I know they want to avoid Fu Manchu/Zheng Yi (which I’m very bummed about) because it will not only offend China but also Asian Americans. But, why then use a similar character to replace him? A character that is not even originally part of Shang Chi’s antagonists list?

  6. Awkwafina is quite ugly looking.

    As per Wikipedia, Awkwafina was born in New York City to an ethnic Chinese-American father, Wally, and a South Korean immigrant mother, a painter. She looks more Korean to me than Chinese.

    I don’t know about her acting. She could be a talented actress, but she is not a pretty Chinese girl to me. Perhaps her role in the movie does not require a pretty looking Chinese girl.

    1. @orchid123

      calling her ‘ugly’ because her face doesn’t fall into to your stereotypical ‘pretty’ girl standard is rather shallow. Good performers aren’t required to be beauty queens except for idol chasers.

      1. @msxie0714
        “Good performers aren’t required to be beauty queens except for idol chasers” ………..Yes, maybe in Hollywood movies, but definitely not in Chinese/Hong Kong movies or drama series.

      2. @orchid123

        That’s the fault of very young Chinese/HK fans who worship gorgeous idols even if they can’t act. It’s no wonder Angelababy has so many fans although she lacks acting chops.

      3. @msxie0714 I’m ok with awkwafina because I do like her role in CRA, so I think I should be ok with her in Shang-Chi if her role is the same as CRA, support comedic relief, not a main love interest or something like that.

        Now I still find the main actor is ugly, or at least, his face does not make me want to go watch the movie!

      4. @msxie0714 Let’s not be PC. she is ugly. Ok? BUT she probably fits the role they have for her. Westerners do have this stereotype image of chinese in their minds even if we have big eyes, high cheekbones etc

      5. @msxie0714

        You don’t need to be pretty nor attractive to be a successful actress, but you can’t be ugly. She is just ugly. Everything about her face to her behaviour isn’t right. She definitely lives up to her name.

        I’ve watched a few YT videos that she was featured in long before she even got famous in Crazy Rich Asians. I think one of them was a Fung Bros video that she was in. She was just straight-up ugly and awkward from her looks to the way she carried herself.

        When the trailer rolls out next year, I just know most Chinese Marvel fans will be on her looks because not only she’s not attractive (by Chinese standards). She’s just straight up ugly. Lol

      6. @anon Exactly. There is no rule that says only beautiful people get land roles. haha lol…There are tons of ugly people we get famous and beautiful ones never make it anywhere. I think she does look more Korean than Chinese based on her eyes. I watched bits and pieces of that CRA movie and I thought she looked the part. There was this korean actress is is also famous in movies but I thought Korean likes plastic good looking actresses but I heard from my k/friends that she has lots of movie roles even if she looks homely. Go figure!! haha lol….I actually don’t care about the faces that much. If the story line hooks you in you wouldn’t care too much about faces. Well, that’s just me.

      7. @anon

        Poor Awkwafina getting face-shamed by Asians. She’d better get extreme plastic surgery to make it in China.

      8. @msxie0714

        I highly doubt she gives a crap about the Chinese market, but Disney does. Through this experience, Marvel will learn that you can’t just put that specimen into a role and think that it will fly under the radar in China especially for a film that is as significant as Shang-chi – for the Asian community, particularly the Chinese community. Asians care alot about face (like literally). This is like a coming-out party for China and then you put Awkwafina in.

        Some can even argue that Simu doesn’t fit the leading role and isn’t good looking enough (for China), but at least, he ain’t ugly.

      9. @msxie0714

        “calling her ‘ugly’ because her face doesn’t fall into to your stereotypical ‘pretty’ girl standard is rather shallow” ……………….. Ha ha ……….. I am, and have never been a idol fan in my life. I don’t think my expectation is shallow. I am sure most people feel the same.

        I just find a pretty face is more pleasant to see/watch in movies and/or drama series unless the role requires ugly-faced artistes. If it is a villainous role, then I will accept ugly-faced artistes, but not for good-character roles.

  7. Tony Leung shouldn’t be too bothered with China. If he does well, he will have a renaissance of a career in hollywood. And it seems hollywood is hell bent on casting the ugliest chinese young men and women in this film. I don’t see anything heroic with the actor cast. Maybe he is a good actor so might change my mind.

    1. @funnlim

      If The Mandarin’s villainous role can span multiple sequels like Thanos. He could possibly be a hit. Tony Leung could then care less about his acting career in China and focus on Hollywood.

      Tony’s English is actually pretty good, way better than Donnie Yen and Jackie Chan if you ask me. He has a video up on Youtube where he’s giving an English interview.

    2. @funnlim To be fair, Simu Liu isn’t ugly, but he’s not drop-dead gorgeous either. If you’ve watched him speak, he’s actually quite charismatic.

      Awkwafina on the other hand… I’m speechless. I hope she only has 3 lines, gets hit by a stray bullet then dies…

    3. @funnlim

      I think Tony Leung is pass being dependent on Chinese market. First, I think he has earn enough to retire if he wants to. Second, I think he acts more for the art.

      He won’t film Hollywood movie just for the sake of being in a Hollywood movie. The project has to interest him.

    4. @funnlim
      omg, you and i think the same about the cast. probably a bunch of white supremacist decided on the cast. look at crazy rich asian, they have a good looking cast for the most part b/c asian people made decision on the cast.

  8. Marvel phase 4 will be the phase of the SJW. There will be a female Thor (Jane Thor), a bisexual Valkyrie, a deaf Eternal and many other minorities in phase 4 movies.

    Marvel/Disney is very keen on representation nowadays, and the method they choose to go about it is by race-swapping and gender-bending.

    1. @kidd aptly put lol. a movie for the SJWs of the world, even though they comprise just a sliver of the population. but representation & inclusivity is good – although i wished they did it in a more low-key fashion. right now, it just feels like they’re trying to hype up a movie and exploit all these minorities for money’s sake. not because they actually give a crap about minorities.

      1. @coralie

        Yeap. It does feel like that sometimes.
        Like how they marketed Captain Marvel. The promotion put all the focus on her being a woman instead of her being a superhero. It’s like they are shouting ‘See?! We are making a FEMALE LED superhero movie!!!’

    2. @kidd
      well, considering east asians are not a minority of the world population, it’d be very stupid to have only white and black superheros.

      1. @m0m0

        I didn’t saythere should only be white and black heroes. I’m not against Marvel adding more races in to MCU. In fact, I welcome it. What I don’t like is race-swapping and gender-bending.

        I was happy when they include Jimmy Woo in Ant Man 2 (but was also disappointed that they made him so goofy) and is also happy that they are making a Shang Chi movie. That’s the right way of bringing in minorities to MCU. But, don’t race swap an originally white character to a minority race just for representation and inclusiveness’s sake.

  9. I agree that Awkwafina isn’t good-looking by most people’s standards, but there’s something likable about her that makes her shine. the great thing about talent is that it’s universally accepted, even if it’s under bad packaging.

    1. @coralie

      I agree with you and this is how I feel 99% of the time. Unfortunately, for me, her appearance just detracts from every other “good” quality that she has. It’s one of those people that you see in life that you just straight-up dislike.

      1. @anon i feel that way about vince vaughn, but occasionally, i still watch his movies. his face subtracts from my enjoyment of the film, but doesn’t kill it. a movie is more than just its main character.

        you might even end up enjoying the story for what it is, even if you don’t like a performer.

  10. Awkwafina is not going to win a beauty pageant, but calling her ugly is harsh. She has charisma and more importantly, talent. Watching a talented actress is so much more attractive than a beauty queen that can’t act. We complain about the poor quality of HK TV and movies, but in order to improve, they need stop grooming beauty pageant winners and actually cast on talent.

    Here are some unretouched pictures of Awkwafina. With the right styling and lighting, she jumps out and captures your attention.

    1. @potatochip

      Reality is harsh. I get you’re a fan, so it’s understandable that you would defend her. Beauty is in the eyes of the beholder.

      Anybody can look better in the right angles and lighting. I just checked those pics out, she does look better, but she’s still ugly, so it will not change the way I view her.

      I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again, I believe that everyone has one or several individuals that they inherently dislike regardless of their talents and/or charisma. Awkwafina happens to mine, so let’s just agree to disagree.

      1. @anon Funny. Didn’t say I was a fan. Even if I were, it doesn’t discount my opinion. Just like since you are not a fan, it doesn’t validate yours.

        Eh, but you are correct to agree to disagree. External beauty is fleeting and not how I place value on women.

  11. I wonder who Awkwafina will play. The only 2 significant female characters in the Master of Kungfu comic I can think of is Leiko Wu and Shang Chi’s half sister Fah Lo Suee.

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