There’s never been a better time to be a fan of superheroes or diversity in film. After far too long, filmmakers, studios, and audiences are aware that representation on screen matters, and it doesn’t have to come at the cost of a compelling story relatable to everyone. To fans of comic books, however, this seems like common sense. In the past 25 or so years, a deluge of characters from a variety of social, economic, and ethnic backgrounds became beloved and iconic in the eyes of fans. Marvel studios is the biggest powerhouse in the superhero genre right now. They also have two Asian-led solo projects coming in just a few years. First is the character Shang-Chi who, despite his early ties to the Yellow Peril phenomenon, will be a powerful (in all senses of the term) addition to the MCU roster. Also coming will be fan-favorite Kamala Khan, a Pakistani-American character who adopts the name Ms. Marvel, in her own Disney+ live-action series.
Yet, there are still plenty of other awesome Asian characters that Marvel can bring into the MCU proper. These are characters who are beloved by fans and tell unique and important stories all across the Asian diaspora. Some of these characters are derivative of other Marvel characters, but since Marvel will eventually need to recast characters like Spider-Man and the Hulk, they provide a great opportunity to do so in a way that doesn’t “reset” the MCU timeline. Below are Top Five Asian Superheroes from Marvel, characters who can delight fans and give kids from many different backgrounds the chance to see themselves as superheroes.
1. Amadeus Cho
This Korean American character created by Greg Pak and Takeshi Miyazawa has been a version of Spider-Man, Iron Man, and (most famously) the Hulk. His real power, however, is that he’s a super-genius. Since Mark Ruffalo can’t play the Hulk forever (and as Professor Hulk has mostly reached the end of his character arc), the movies need a new one. Cho is a great choice because his experience with the Hulk power is not as conflicted as Bruce Banner’s. It would be a chance to tell a different kind of story about a person with great mental and physical power, but without making one or the other an undue burden. And, since Cho is typically portrayed as a teenager, he’d have many years of superheroing to do before it would be time to find someone new to take up the Hulk’s mantle.
Silk is another Korean American superhero named Cindy Moon created by Dan Slott and Humberto Ramos. He origin begins with Peter Parker, as she ends up bitten by the same spider that gave him his powers. She isn’t as strong as Spidey but is faster and can spin organic webbing from her fingertips. She climbs walls, has a spider-sense, but also has an eidetic memory. This character may be coming to screens sooner than we think. Cindy Moon appeared in Spider-Man: Homecoming, and Variety reported in 2018 that a feature film starring the character is in development at Sony. Hers is a profound story about family, untapped potential, and a different pathway to heroism than the guilt Spider-Man felt over the death of his Uncle Ben.
Jubilation Lee is a mutant, Chinese American character created by legendary X-Men writer Chris Claremont. This teenage hero has the power to generate powerful pyrotechnic bursts from thin air. At first this power seemed on the weaker side, but soon the character realized she had the power to create explosions at the atomic level. She’s appeared in a number of the previous X-Men films but never in any significant way. Since mutants’ presence in the MCU is still a big question mark, she could be a pathway to telling those kind of stories without all the fanfare of an “X-Men” film. Instead of making her a part of team, a film or series could follow this character as she deals with questions about identity and power. It could be a great story about how Jubilee is underestimated by the world despite being incredibly powerful (and just not knowing it yet!).
Bengal is a Vietnamese character named Duc No Tranh who originally debuted as an antagonist for Daredevil in the late 1980s. Writer Fabian Nicieza and artist Ron Lim created the character, who is not really a villain. Bengal has heightened abilities, knows martial arts, and is on a quest for revenge. Though rather than a personal revenge narrative, he’s seeking justice against American soldiers who committed war crimes during the Vietnam War. The MCU is full of pure, moral heroes, but Bengal’s story is more complicated. It presents a chance for Marvel to show that what makes someone a “villain” depends very much on your perspective. It’s also an excellent chance to show how revenge isn’t as good of a motivation for a hero as saving lives.
For Marvel fans, Hugh Jackman is Wolverine. When he left the role behind after 2017’s Logan, some feared the actor was irreplaceable. Yet, Logan isn’t the only Wolverine. Introduced in 2007, Daken is a Japanese Canadian character who is the son of Logan and his Japanese wife Itsu. Like Wolverine, he’s been both a good and bad guy at times, mostly because of a dark side borne from people trying to use him as a weapon. He’s a younger, darker, and more intense Wolverine, that deserves his shot on the big-screen.