With the Marvel Cinematic Universe, much like our actual universe, continuing to infinitely expand in all directions, it was only a matter of time until the metaphorical supermassive black hole at its center started to inexorably tug at the stars of the Hong Kong film industry.
And, just as actual celestial bodies must ultimately succumb to the gravitational pull of an entity of near-infinite density, so too has one of Hong Kong’s brightest luminaries.
Tony Leung is going to be in a Marvel movie, is basically what we’re saying.
That’s what that whole extended conceit was all about — Tony Leung being in a Marvel movie. We were just having a little fun with the astronomy analogies, but yes, the takeaway for you, the reader, is that Tony Leung is going to be in a Marvel movie. (Just in case you missed the announcement amid the swirl of, y’know, other pressing news.)
In a somewhat ironic twist for a man who has come to be regarded as one of the finest actors working in Cantonese-language cinema, Tony Leung Chiu-Wai (not to be confused with Tony Leung Ka-fai) will take on the mantle of the Mandarin, the shadowy leader of the terrorist group the Ten Rings and the baddie in the forthcoming Shang-Chi And The Legend Of The Ten Rings.
The casting was announced by Marvel Studios President Kevin Feige from the stage of the San Diego Comic Con over the weekend.
Our more astute (i.e. nerdier) readers may recall that the Mandarin was first brought to the screen by renowned British thespian Ben Kingsley in Iron Man 3, only for Kingsley to be revealed as (6-year-old spoiler alert!) a washed up British actor named Trevor hired to impersonate the Mandarin by the film’s actual bad guys.
Leung, meanwhile, is best known for his roles in classic Hong Kong films like In the Mood for Love and Infernal Affairs, both of which earned him best actor awards at the Hong Kong Film Awards. (He has nabbed five HKFA best actor wins in total, and two for supporting roles).
Shang-Chi And The Legend Of The Ten Rings will be Marvel’s first project with an Asian lead, and will feature Simu Liu as the titular master martial artist/son of a racist stereotype, who, thankfully, is not expected to make an appearance.