Anime & Comics

Asian Representation in Comics and Movies

With Marvel Studios’ first movie Asian-led superhero movie, Shang-Chi to be hitting theaters soon, here are some other Asian superheroes we wouldn’t mind seeing in their own films at some point.

Asian Superheroes

Shang-Chi

Okay, so Shang-Chi is already getting his own movie, but he’s not the most well-known character. Especially compared to those already appearing the MCU.

Also called “The Master of Kung-Fu,” Shang-Chi is Chinese superhero with a mastery of several martial arts and weapon-based styles. Later in the comics, he learns the ability to create duplicates of himself, which will be interesting to see on screen if they decide to use it.

The character was created by writer Steve Englehart and artist Jim Starlin and was once a member of the Avengers. He has appeared in Heroes for Hire, Secret Empire, and Ultimate Marvel Team-Up.

Shang-Chi is being written by Chinese-American screenwriter, Dave Callaham. It is set to premiere in December 2019.

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Kenan Kong and the Justice League of China

Kenan Kong was the star of the much-too-short-lived comic, New Superman, by Gene Luen Yang and Victor Bogdanovic. Starting out as a bully, Kenan Kong received his powers from an experiment through China’s Ministry of Self-Reliance. His powers mirror the original Superman’s, in addition to being the living embodiment of Yin and Yang principals.

The Justice League of China features counterparts to the original league, all hailing from Asian countries, including a Chinese-American Flash and a North Korean Aquaman. The Justice League of China has also appeared in Flash: Rebirth and the DC Rebirth Holiday Special.

New Superman ran for 24 issues before its ending in Summer of 2018. Gene Yang is well-known for his award-winning comic, American Born Chinese.

Jubilee

Anyone who remembers the 90’s X-Men Animated Series, remembers the quirky Chinese-American hero who always sported the yellow raincoat, Jubilee. Created by Chris Claremont and Marc Silvestri, Jubilation Lee was born to Chinese immigrants. She possesses the power to create energy blasts in the form of small balls of light.

Jubilee has appeared in Spider-Man: The Animated Series, X-Men: Evolution, and all three X-Men films.

Cassandra Cain

Arguably the most badass Batgirl, Cassandra Cain is a Japanese-American hero that first appeared in the “No Man’s Land” story arc of the Batman Comics. Trained to be a bodyguard for Batman villain, Ra’s al Ghul, Cassandra Cain possesses a talent for hand-to-hand combat that would rival the Dark Knight himself. She also has the ability to read body language and anticipate opponents’ actions.

Cassandra took up the mantle of Batgirl while Barbra Gordon was working as Oracle.

She has appeared as both a hero and a villain in the Batman Comics. Currently going by the name, Orphan, Cassandra Cain is still a prominent figure in ongoing DC titles.

Silk

Cindy Moon is a Korean-American superhero under the alter ego, Silk. Silk first appeared in The Amazing Spider-Man #1 by Dan Slott and Humberto Ramos and shares similar powers to Peter Parker’s Spider-Man. She is also a master in hand-to-hand combat and can produce organic webbing.

She shares a similar origin to Peter Parker, in fact, she was bitten by the same radioactive spider.

Silk played a big part in Marvel’s Spider-Verse story arc and had a recent ongoing comic series written by Robbie Thompson.

Ms. Marvel

After Carol Danvers, the next character to take the reins of Ms. Marvel was Kamala Khan. Created by Sana Amanat, Stephen Walker, G. Willow Wilson, Adrian Alphona, and Jamie McKelvie, Kamala Khan is the first Muslim character to have her own Marvel series. She possesses both shapeshifting and healing powers.

The Ms. Marvel comics are interesting because we not only see Khan dealing with the supervillains and disasters that are a normal part of any superhero’s day, but also conflicts with her religious duties. 

Brie Larson, star of Captain Marvel, has said that she’d love for Kamala Khan to appear in a movie, so hopefully, she will be making an appearance in the future.

Atom

Ryan Choi, or Atom, as he’s known in the DCU, is a Chinese-American superhero with the ability to shrink his body. He was created by comic writing powerhouses, Gail Simone and Grant Morrison.

Choi’s Atom first appeared in DCU: Brave New World and was the fourth Atom in DC’s history. Atom had an ongoing series called The All-New Atom and has appeared in Identity Crisis, Brightest Day, and Convergence.

Let’s See More

Comics are full of many other Asian heroes, including Jade, Katana, and Sunfire. It used to be rare to see an Asian character in comics, but the numbers are growing day-by-day. It goes without saying, but I’ll say it anyway: Representation is important. Of course, any kid can see themselves as Batman or Spider-Man, but it’s always nice having a character you can relate to on a cultural level. I’m hoping that Shang-Chi is the first in a long line of Asian-led hero movies. Also, if any comic book writers are listening, how about a Filipino superhero?

About the author:

John lives in South Carolina with his wife and dog. He likes comics, a healthy mixture of punk and hip hop, and food with a strong kick of spice. He also writes webcomics over at rantscomics.com

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