The Non-Yellow Peril

In the comics, the father of Shang-Chi, the Master of Kung-Fu, was Fu Manchu. This has been retconned, and is being retconned again for the upcoming Marvel Cinematic Universe movie. (It looks like we will get to see this one released to theaters as scheduled, since the SIOs—suits-in-offices—at Disney say it’s too late for them to yank it from the schedule due to the Deltarona, otherwise they most certainly would have done so. ETERNALS may yet get yanked, depending on whether the current phase of the pandemic has crested before November, and the decision whether or not to yank the new Spider-Man movie will be Sony’s and not Disney’s.) From a storytelling point of view, it makes more sense to have Shang-Chi’s father be the Mandarin. (The *real* Mandarin.) If they’d used Fu Manchu, they would’ve had to do a complete deconstruction and rebuilding of the character to rid him of his racist origins, his perfect embodiment of the “Yellow Peril” that permeates his origin, as addressed here in this linked article. Why bother, when Fu Manchu is no longer a featured villain in Marvel lore, whereas the Mandarin is?

Fu Manchu concerns us here on this site because Boris Karloff and Christopher Lee both portrayed him on film. This is deliciously ironic. Under normal circumstances, such casting of Caucasian actors as characters meant to be Asian wouldn’t fly by today’s standards. But it’s actually a good thing in this case. It’s better if Fu Manchu *isn’t* Asian. Just let him be a supervillain, sans racial stereotypes. Same with Ming the Merciless, who was based on Fu Manchu. In any future Flash Gordon stories, emphasize that Ming is alien, not Asian. The best supervillains aren’t even human, so there’s no reason to tie them to any particular culture or ethnicity.

By TheCheezman

WAYNE MILLER is the owner and creative director of EVIL CHEEZ PRODUCTIONS, specializing in theatrical performances and haunted attractions. He has written, produced, and directed (and occasionally acted in) over two dozen plays, most of them in the Horror and True Crime genres. He obtained a doctorate in Occult Studies from Miskatonic University and is an active paranormal investigator. Is frequently told he resembles Anton Lavey. And Ming the Merciless. Denn die totden reiten schnell!

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