Back in September, the Marvel Cinematic Universe gained a new hero for their Phase Four slate. When Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings (2021) debuted it centered on bringing a predominantly Asian American cast firmly into the MCU.
With Simu Liu as the Master of Kung Fu, Shang-Chi, director Destin Daniel Cretton’s action-adventure also introduced other new characters into the Marvel Universe, including a wholly original character in the form of Awkwafina’s Katy, which drew criticism from a number of Marvel fans. Now, the actress has landed a new movie.
The blockbuster adaptation of the Marvel Comics martial artist debuted in September to a thunderous reception. Smashing expectations, cementing itself as one of the strongest pandemic-era opening weekends. and breaking Labor Day theater records, Kevin Feige’s addition to the MCU, like a Hulk Smash, landed with dominance. The move solidified Disney’s choice to release new movies exclusively in theaters following the fallout between Scarlett Johansson and the House of Mouse over the decision to debut Cate Shortland’s Black Widow (2021) both in theaters and on Disney+ Premier Access.
Liu’s new hero was joined by Awkwafina’s Katy in the Marvel film, as well as Tony Leung (Xu Wenwu AKA The Mandarin), Michelle Yeoh (Ying Nan), Ronny Chieng (Jon Jon), Meng’er Zhang (Xu Xialing), Fala Chen (Li), and Ben Kingsley (Trevor Slattery), as well as Doctor Strange‘s (2016) Benedict Wong (Wong).
The film also sees a cameo appearance from The Incredible Hulk‘s (2008) Abomination, played by Tim Roth in the MCU film.
With a story dealing with heritage, family, and responsibility, Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings successfully adapted elements from its comic book roots. However, there were some notable changes. Shang-Chi’s father was re-imagined as Xu Wenwu instead of Fu Manchu from Marvel Comics lore. Fans will also know that The Mandarin also appeared in Iron Man 3 (2013) but here, the real orchestrator is revealed. In addition to this change, Cretton’s Marvel movie introduced an original character in the form of Awkwafina’s Katy.
Earlier this year, Marvel fans accused Awkwafina of cultural appropriation for her use of a “Blaccent” throughout her career. Some viewers felt that this was a double standard considering Awkwafina’s stance on her own choice of roles. From a recently resurfaced 2017 interview the Crazy Rich Asians star said:
“I refuse to do accents. I’m not OK with someone writing the Asian experience for an Asian character. I make it very clear, I don’t ever go out for auditions where I feel like I’m making a minstrel out of our people.”
The backlash that ensued saw fans declare a boycott of Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings due to her starring role in the epic. Now, in spite of the controversy and cancellation from a portion of audiences, Awkwafina’s career shows no signs of slowing down.
The actress, who also appeared as Sisu in Disney’s Raya and the Last Dragon (2021), has just been cast in Universal’s Renfield alongside Nicolas Cage and Nicholas Hoult. Cage will play Dracula with Hoult as his servant, Awkwafina is in a yet undisclosed role.
It is particularly interesting when looking at Awkwafina’s casting through the lens of cancel culture and whether call-outs from audiences actually have an effect on a person’s career — we only have to look at Tom Hardy’s recent criticisms when gauging the industry’s response to certain stars. In September, the actress addressed the issues of her using a “Blaccent”, stating that she is “open to the conversation” and that the situation is something “multi-faceted” and “layered”. It seems it is something Universal is not worried about at this time.
Another type of controversy is happening with other Disney stars, too. Captain Jack Sparrow actor, Johnny Depp, has been in the press for the last 18 months as he aims to settle the lawsuit with his ex-wife, Amber Heard, over domestic abuse allegations. Recently, the Pirates star made huge progress in his career with an all-new announcement.
Deadline gives some more information on Universal’s upcoming Renfield:
The Tomorrow War director Chris McKay is on board to helm the pic, which is based on an original story outline from Robert Kirkman. Ryan Ridley wrote the script. Cage will play Dracula.
McKay’s producing partner Samantha Nisenboim will be joining the project as executive producer. The film will be produced by Skybound Entertainment’s film team including Kirkman, David Alpert, Bryan Furst and Sean Furst.
What do you think of Awkwafina’s casting in this new project from Universal? Let us know in the comments down below!