HomeBad Ass AsiansShang-Chi's Dave Callaham Discusses The Pressures In Screenwriting Marvel's First Asian Superhero

Shang-Chi’s Dave Callaham Discusses The Pressures In Screenwriting Marvel’s First Asian Superhero

By Erin Chew, AsAmNews Staff Writer

A lot of work went on behind the scenes to make Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings a strong screenplay with authentic characters. Being the first, there is of course a lot of pressure to make it exceed expectations, and what is great about Shang-Chi is that both the director for the film is Asian American in Destin Daniel Gretton and the screenwriter is as well in Dave Callaham.

In an interview with AsAmNews, Callaham talked about how incredibly important it was for him as a Chinese American to screen write for Shang-Chi and how it was both personal and overwhelming for him.

“I can’t speak for anyone else, but as a Chinese American who has written for films for almost two decades, I was never given the opportunity to write one from my own perspective as an Asian person. So this is not only personal to me but also overwhelming to write something particularly Asian audiences all over the world will love and appreciate,” he said.

Callaham has had almost twenty years of screenwriting experience and he is not new to the world of writing superhero and fantasy style films. His most recent works include being the screenwriter for Wonder Woman 1984, Mortal Kombat, Godzilla, and his upcoming work after Shang-Chi includes Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse 2 and The Expendables 4. However, his journey into writing for Marvel was one about patience and persistence.

“I have approached Marvel a few times to discuss working there, but it never quite worked out for one reason or another. However, three years ago they called me to come in to talk about Shang-Chi. I then realized all my experiences were leading to this moment.”

The project required focus to detail on Chinese/Asian elements while staying true to the Marvel Universe. Callaham discussed the immense pressure he felt as well as what thought processes he went through to ensure he didn’t write any negative Asian stereotypes.

The entire crew including the actors were given the opportunity to offer feedback to make sure the perspectives of as many lived experiences were taken into account.

“The more eyeballs on the writing the better,” said Callaham. “I was definitely nervous. I guess it was more of a self imposed pressure. I mean, I felt “OMG” every single person of Asian descent everywhere in the world will watch this and think this and that or say this and say that, and this fact freaked me out.”

Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings opens in theaters on September 3, 2021.

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