After Marvel Studios confirmed that Hong Kong actor Tony Leung (梁朝偉) will be playing as the supervillain The Mandarin in Shang-Chi: Legend of The Ten Rings, many Mainland Chinese netizens expressed displeasure at his role and claimed it was outright insulting.
Created by British author Sax Rohmer and fostered by ideologies of the Yellow Peril in the early 1900s, Fu Manchu was a criminal and represented the Chinese as evil and dangerous to Western society. Marvel later acquired rights to the character and even introduced him as Shang-Chi’s father in the comic books. In 1980, Marvel rewrote Fu Manchu as The Mandarin when Chinese Americans boycotted the character due to its racist origins.
With The Mandarin originating from Fu Manchu, many Mainland netizens were outraged that Tony Leung agreed to the role. Mainland netizens criticized the actor as driven by greed and some asserted they will boycott the Marvel film. They commented, “Is Tony Leung out of money? Throwing face away because of money!”; “If he actually considered Chinese fans, then shouldn’t he know to avoid the role?”; “Tony Leung must be crazy about becoming an international star!” A netizen also claimed that The Mandarin carries the same insulting nature as referring to a black person as “nigger”.
Despite the initial outrage, some believe that Marvel will handle The Mandarin’s character in a culturally sensitive manner given the importance of the Chinese box office. The team behind Shang-Chi also include Chinese-American Destin Daniel Cretton and Japanese-American screenwriter David Callaham.
Shang-Chi is slated for release in February 2021.
This article is written by Minna for JayneStars.com.