It looks like Marvel Studios’ Shang-Chi And The Legend Of The Ten Rings has just picked up a star whose addition to the cast should make all martial-arts or wuxia fans take notice – legendary Malaysian actress Michelle Yeoh is supposedly circling a role in the superhero film.
Yeoh, the star of classic action films like Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon (and its much-maligned but honestly fantastic sequel) and Tomorrow Never Dies, as well as the recent hit comedy Crazy Rich Asians, the TV series Star Trek: Discovery, and all four upcoming Avatar sequels, is regarded by many as one of the Asian film scene’s most respected and acclaimed onscreen talents, so it’s no surprise that she would want a role in Shang-Chi, which is hoping to become a huge hit with both Chinese and American audiences – the fact that the film is also going to include a number of intense, epic action sequences (which Yeoh excels at doing) probably doesn’t hurt either. This will not be Yeoh’s first time in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, as she portrayed intergalactic pirate Aleta Ogord in Guardians Of The Galaxy Vol. 2 for roughly 0.1 seconds, but it seems unlikely she’s reprising that role here, as the character of Ogord probably wouldn’t have a very good reason to come to earth and interact with Shang-Chi, Master of Kung Fu – though it would be interesting if she did. That will make Yeoh one of a steadily growing number of actors who now play two different characters in the MCU – we can expect that number to keep growing, as Marvel continues to make up for its regrettable early trend of taking great actors, sticking them in a movie for a momentary, meaningless cameo, and then never using them again.
As for who Yeoh will be playing in this film, that’s being kept secret: with Hong Kong film star Tony Leung playing long-awaited villainous mastermind The Mandarin, and Asian-American comedian Awkwafina possibly playing his daughter Fah Lo Suee, it makes sense that Yeoh could be playing another member of this scarily efficient crime family – or she might be playing Shang-Chi’s mother (who, in the extremely antiquated and, let’s be honest, downright racist comics, is a white American woman genetically selected to be the partner of the supervillain Fu Manchu). Or she might be both: after all, it’s still somewhat unclear whether Shang-Chi will actually be part of The Mandarin’s family, or adopted, or someone else entirely. They’ve clearly got a connection, but it’s too early to determine if or how Michelle Yeoh’s character ties into that equation.
Whoever she’s playing, let’s just keep our fingers crossed that she gets to do some high-flying sword fighting and fancy footwork in this film.
How do you feel about Yeoh’s casting? Are you excited for her new role in Shang-Chi, or upset that she’s breaking MCU continuity to get there? Share your thoughts, theories and opinions in the comments below!