Following the recent death of comics legend Stan Lee (co-creator of iconic Marvel superheroes like the Hulk, Thor, and Spider-Man), Inverse spoke with Margaret Loesch, the former CEO and President of Marvel Productions, and she revealed that long before the launch of what would become known as the Marvel cinematic universe with 2008’s IRON MAN, Lee almost brought another Marvel superhero–Shang-Chi aka “The Master of Kung-Fu”–to the big or small screen. And he talked to Brandon Lee, the son of martial arts legend Bruce Lee, about playing the role before the younger Lee’s untimely death on the set of 1994’s THE CROW.
“Stan did believe in the character,” Loesch says. “He used that as an example of the comic that could transition into the movie and television world.”
Shang-Chi was created by Steve Englehart and Jim Starlin in 1973 on the heels of the popularity of martial arts movies in America following the big screen debut of Bruce Lee. The character had his own comic series, MASTER OF KUNG-FU, which ran for 125 issues.
Shang-Chi was a martial artist who was considered the best fighter in the Marvel universe. He was the son of the evil Fu Manchu himself but rebelled against his father to become a hero.
Loesch said she remembered Stan Lee took a meeting with Brandon and his mother Linda (the widow of the late Bruce Lee) to discuss the possibility of adapting Shang-Chi as a film or TV series.
“Stan had great hope [for Brandon],” Loesch said. “He thought Brandon would be a future star.”
She added: “They talked about the kinds of comics that Stan had done, and he mentioned that comic. Stan had great belief that those movies and TV shows based on those types of characters could be very popular. I can’t remember what happened, I think maybe we felt out the networks and they weren’t interested because of the violence. But that’s how I recall that property, because I had not been familiar with it until then.”
Shang-Chi has yet to be introduced into the Marvel cinematic universe, but with the next phase of Marvel’s films about to launch, it’s possible we may be getting our first live-action take on the character.