Marvel’s first Asian superhero movie tipped to shoot in Sydney

Marvel’s first Asian superhero movie tipped to shoot in Sydney

April 4, 2019

For weeks there have been rumblings in the film industry – amid tight secrecy – about a big new movie headed for Sydney's Fox Studios.

Could it be Baz Luhrmann's planned Elvis biopic, which reportedly has Tom Hanks in talks to play Colonel Tom Parker? Or George Miller either making a new Mad Max, after an extended legal dispute with Warner Bros, or the love story Three Thousand Years of Longing with Idris Elba and Tilda Swinton?

Comic book character Shang-Chi is set to be the first Asian superhero in the Marvel universe. Credit:Marvel

Or could Australian director Cate Shortland be bringing her Marvel superhero movie Black Widow, starring Scarlett Johansson, to her home city?

One by one, these theories have fallen over.

But it appears Sydney is about to get a Marvel superhero movie – just not Black Widow.

It is believed to be Shang-Chi, the studio's first superhero movie featuring an Asian protagonist.

Centring on a martial arts master, the film has been fast-tracked since the phenomenal success of Black Panther – worldwide box office takings of $US1.3 billion and three Oscars – showed the value of superhero movies featuring racially diverse characters.

Breaking ground for more diverse superheroes on screen: Chadwick Boseman as the title character in Black Panther. Credit:Marvel Studios

In December, there were US reports that Shang-Chi was being written by Chinese-American screenwriter David Callaham (Wonder Woman 1984) and Marvel was looking for an Asian or Asian-American director.

Destin Daniel Cretton is to direct Shang-Chi. Credit:Keystone

Since then, it has hired director Destin Daniel Cretton, who is best known for Short Term 12, a critically-acclaimed American drama that had Brie Larson – the future Captain Marvel – as supervisor of a home for troubled teenagers.

The character Shang-Chi was created after Marvel failed to acquire the comic book rights to the hit television series Kung Fu in the early 1970s. With a look inspired by Bruce Lee, he is a master Chinese martial artist and the son of an infamous criminal, Fu Manchu, who rebels and becomes a force for good.

Marvel is reportedly planning to use a largely Asian-American and Asian cast, though there will presumably be opportunities for Asian-Australian actors.

Federal arts minister Mitch Fifield confirmed on Wednesday that an untitled Marvel Studios feature film would shoot at Fox Studios and other locations, with $24 million in one-off funding.

Failing to buy the rights in the 1970s inspired the creation of a new Marvel superhero: David Carradine in the hit TV series Kung Fu.Credit:ABC

"Securing this latest production will bring over $150 million of new international investment, create 4700 new Australian jobs and use the services of around 1200 local businesses," he said.

One-off grants to boost existing incentives for filming in Australia have previously attracted Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales, Aquaman and Marvel's Thor: Ragnarok to shoot in Queensland and Alien: Covenant to film in Sydney.

State arts minister Don Harwin said the $10 million Made in NSW fund that was launched last year was also backing "the first Marvel Studios movie to be based in NSW".

"The film needs a large workforce of highly specialised special effects technicians and will also require sophisticated stunts, all of which NSW's incredibly skilled and experienced screen industry can deliver," he said.

Marvel continues to ride high with Captain Marvel – its first female-led superhero movie – cracking $US1 billion and Avengers: Endgame heading for cinemas this month.

As well as Black Widow, the Disney-owned studio is also planning sequels to Black Panther and Doctor Strange, a third Guardians of the Galaxy instalment and a potential new franchise with The Eternals.

Marvel Studios vice president David Grant said the studio was "thrilled to be returning to Australia to work with the talented and highly skilled Australian crew, stunt performers and actors, together with the thousands of small businesses across Australia that supply world class equipment, goods, facilities and services to large budget productions".

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