Ever since the first trailer for Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings was released, we’ve been incredibly excited not just because it’s Marvel‘s first Asian-lead superhero film but because we all heard a familiar voice in the trailer.
Since then, fans have been anticipating the release of an original soundtrack featuring GOT7‘s Jackson Wang. Even 88rising, which Jackson frequently collaborates with, also reposted the trailer on their social media accounts. Initially, they even tagged Jackson on Instagram but soon removed it.
GET OUT 88rising reposted Shang-Chi trailer, so JACKSON WANG MARVEL OST???? 👀 pic.twitter.com/5FRwSqwIyN
— wang ˢⁿᵉᵃᵏʸ 🐼 (@sneakyseunie) April 19, 2021
Not only has it been months since, and the film is preparing to be released on September 3, but some songs have already been released. Additionally, a tracklist has been circulating the internet, featuring many 88rising artists, such as Rich Brian and NIKI, yet not Jackson, causing some to wonder if he won’t be featured after all.
Based on some recent news related to the film’s release, it seems highly likely that he was originally slated to be featured on the soundtrack along with the fellow 88rising artists but that he might have had to withdraw.
While we’re about another week away from the film’s release, Marvel Studios has not even been able to secure a release date for Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings in China. This is due to two major issues. The first is because the main character, Shang-Chi, has some unfavorable history as it is unfortunately tied to racist stereotypes about Chinese people. The other issue is that some Marvel Studios’ crew, even from other projects, have said some less than favorable things in the opinion of the Chinese Government.
Marvel Comics first created Shang-Chi in 1972 and officially released him to the world the following year to capitalize on the popularity of martial arts films internationally at the time, particularly in the United States. Of course, with no pure-hearted intentions behind the creation, the characters included both genre clichés and racist stereotypes. They even depicted the character as having “bright gold skin” when oftentimes Asians are derogatorily referred to as “yellow.” Henceforth, many still view this character to this day as an attempt by America to exploit Chinese culture.
Still, over time, Shang-Chi has evolved and grown to become a better representation, similarly to how many female characters were originally rooted in sexist stereotypes and are now bad*asses, i.e., Black Widow.
The lead actor of Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings, Simu Liu, who is Chinese Canadian, has actually even been hoping that Marvel Studios would introduce Shang-Chi into the Marvel Cinematic Universe for a while. Luckily, the fan not only got his wish but was cast as the character too.
How it started How it’s going pic.twitter.com/A1kwjvwyIw
— Simu Liu (刘思慕) (@SimuLiu) August 9, 2021
Now, this is an actor who has been outspoken about racism and stereotypes in previous projects. Recently, his show Kim’s Convenience was abruptly canceled for seemingly no reason until he and his co-star revealed some unpleasant activities happening behind the scenes.
We all expect that Simu would be just as outspoken as he was then to now with Shang-Chi. In fact, he already has. When Disney‘s CEO Bob Chapek referred to the production as “an experiment,” Simu posted on his social media that it is not.
We are not an experiment.
We are the underdog; the underestimated. We are the ceiling-breakers. We are the celebration of culture and joy that will persevere after an embattled year.
We are the surprise.
I’m fired the f**k up to make history on September 3rd; JOIN US. pic.twitter.com/IcyFzh0KIb
— Simu Liu (刘思慕) (@SimuLiu) August 14, 2021
Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings has not only Asian actors playing Asian characters, but there are Asians involved behind the scenes too, which was one of the major downfalls of Kim’s Convenience. As an example, Destin Daniel Cretton is Japanese American and is the director of the film.
Nonetheless, many are still concerned that the character’s origin story is rooted in offensive stereotypes that can not be redeemed. For one thing, the character is entirely revolved around martial arts, which is seen as the go-to “trait” for any Asian character. So, Chinese audiences might not see it as the reputation that many Asian Americans do but instead would avoid the film altogether.
The primary reason Chinese audiences take issue with the character of Shang-Chi stems from his original backstory, which established him as the rebellious son of the criminal mastermind Dr. Fu Manchu. Easily the most infamous of the so-called ‘yellow peril’ villains whose stories presented Asians as inhuman creatures that were predisposed to criminal activity, Dr. Fu Manchu was introduced into Marvel Comics alongside Shang-Chi, after the company acquired the rights to adapt the character from the Sax Rohmer estate. The character has largely disappeared from popular culture in the modern age, except as a reference to how wholly stereotypical the original Fu Manchu novels were.
— Screen Rant
Recently, Marvel Comics has attempted to erase the “problematic past” by making him the son of sorcerer Zheng Zhu instead of Dr. Fu Manchu. Shang-Chi’s father in the upcoming father is different from the original story as well. In the film, Hong Kong actor Tony Leung portrays Wenwu who is said to go by “many names,” including “The Mandarin.” Honestly, considering that the Mandarin character itself has negative connotations as well, this could still have many people nervous about the portrayal. Additionally, as Screen Rant has pointed out, just “The fact that Shang-Chi’s greatest enemy is his father is another cliché trope often applied to Chinese characters in Western literature that is considered distasteful in modern China.”
Another iffy topic related to the father-son relationship in the film is actually that Tony Leung is from Hong Kong and Simu Liu is Canadian. From the perspective of China, it seems likely that Marvel Studios will portray a “tradition-minded father” as the villain while the hero is attempting to live an independent life in America.
Based on all of this, the Chinese government may not allow the release of the film altogether. And, correspondingly, Jackson Wang may have withdrawn from any part of the soundtrack. Similarly, he canceled his partnership with Adidas due to the government.
While fans were looking forward to a Jackson OST, they can at least look forward to fellow GOT7 rapper Mark Tuan‘s “Never Gonna Come Down” with BIBI, which she herself confirmed to be on the upcoming soundtrack, and he hinted.
Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings stars Chinese Canadian actor Simu Liu, Awkwafina, Michelle Yeoh, Ronny Chieng, Benedict Wong and releases on September 3, 2021. Look forward to more updates about the soundtrack.