Primed to make his Hollywood debut in just a few weeks time (and in a Marvel film no less), Hong Kong superstar Tony Leung joins the MCU as the villain “The Mandarin” in the upcoming flick Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings featuring actor Simu Liu as as the first Chinese superhero Shang-Chi. However, with the #StopAsianHate sentiment still going strong, questions have also been raised whether Tony Leung’s role might turn out to be offensive especially since Fu-Manchu, the villain in the original books whom The Mandarin replaces as Shang-Chi’s crime boss father, is rooted on racist Asian stereotypes perpetuated in the West. Kevin Feige says this isn’t the case as he clarifies that Marvel does not have the copyright to Fu-Manchu and “neither do they want the copyright”. In the original books, Fu-Manchu embodied the centuries old stereotype that Asian people were the “yellow peril” – the fear that Asian cultures “threatened” Western culture.
Aside from reiterating that Tony will not be playing Fu-Manchu and will instead be taking on a new role, Kevin said “we made changes many years ago. We never intended to use him (Fu-Manchu) in the film in any form. This character is very offensive and we have no intention of touching on the character.” As for Tony, the Marvel President praised his performance for being able to express the inner struggle his character felt as he tries to balance righteousness and evil. “He is one of the great actors in the world, and this allows him to be able to portray his character The Mandarin very uniquely.” As the plot also tells the emotional story between father and son, one can’t directly classify The Mandarin’s character as the villain. Kevin also revealed that he hopes Marvel heroes can satisfy the superhero dreams of global audiences without creating barriers.