Tony Leung will bring the real Mandarin to life in the upcoming Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings film. He’s the ruler of the Ten Rings organization and the father of the film’s titular hero. The famous Chinese actor has worked in the industry for four decades, but the upcoming film will be his true debut in a Hollywood production. Given the controversial backstory to Shang-Chi’s father in the comics, the racist depiction of Fu Manchu, Marvel Studios created a new character to take on that role to reinvent the understanding of this character. In an interview with Elle, the actor discusses how it’s his first take on a villainous character, but highlights that he wanted to explore Wenwu as a character.
When [Marvel] offered me the role, what they wanted was for me to create a brand new Mandarin, so I got to develop my character along with the filming. I’ve never approached Wenwu from a villain’s standpoint. Rather, I tried to explore the reasons that led him to become who he is. He’s a man with a history, who craves to be loved. He is also human, and he has a family. As I read [the script], I began to consider the many reasons why he’d turn out the way he is — a sociopath, a narcissist, a bigot.Tony Leung
Of course, the big selling point for joining the project was its importance to representation for Asian’s in Hollywood. He goes on to confirm that the only reason he decided to join the project was after sitting down with director Destin Daniel Cretton, who pitched the character’s many layers.
I accepted it because of the director. It just felt right. Plus, this is something I’ve never done before, to play an Asian supervillain. A chance to do something for Asia. I thought, why not?Tony Leung
His inclusion is a strong statement of what Shang-Chi stands for. It’s not only Marvel’s first Asian superhero but also a strong step forward for representation. Leung‘s mastery of subtlety adds to those layers that Cretton is trying to bring to life. We’re only a little over a week away until the film finally releases and it’ll be exciting to see the father-son dynamic between him and Simu Liu on screen.