Marvel Studios released a ton of huge announcements at Comic Con on Sunday (21 July) regarding its upcoming slate of projects for Phase 4 of its cinematic universe – and one of them is that Hong Kong superstar Tony Leung Chiu Wai will play a supervillain, the Mandarin, in Shang Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings.
That’s Tony Leung Chiu Wai, not his fellow Hong Kong actor with the same English name, Tony Leung Ka Fai.
The Mandarin is the archvillain of Iron Man in the Marvel comics. The character, played by Ben Kingsley, was featured in the third Iron Man film, but was revealed later in the story to be an impostor created by the actual villain. Rest assured, the Mandarin in Shang Chi will be the real deal instead of a fake.
57-year-old Leung will make his Hollywood debut in Shang Chi, slated for release in February 2021.
Simu Liu, a Chinese-Canadian actor who is well-known for his role in the sitcom Kim’s Convenience, will play the eponymous main character of Shang Chi, a kung fu master. Shang Chi will be Marvel’s first film with an Asian lead.
Awkwafina of Crazy Rich Asians is also part of the movie’s cast, although her character hasn’t been specified.
Leung has starred in films such as Infernal Affairs, The Grandmaster, Lust, Caution, Happy Together and Chungking Express.
He is widely considered the best Hong Kong actor of his generation. Leung has won multiple Best Actor awards at the Golden Horse Awards, and won Best Actor at the Cannes Film Festival in 2000 for In the Mood for Love.
Marvel Studios’ casting of these Chinese stars comes amid a push for diversity in Phase 4 of the Marvel films. Tessa Thompson has been confirmed to be portraying Valkyrie as bisexual in Thor: Love and Thunder, set for release in November 2021. The Eternals, set for release in November 2020, will be directed by Chinese filmmaker Chloe Zhao.