Black Panther 2 Director Gave This Key Advice to Shang-Chi's Destin Daniel Cretton

By Russ Milheim Posted:
Marvel, MCU, Shang-Chi, Black Panther

Phase 4 has given fans a few new faces in the MCU. This started with Monica Rambeau and Agatha Harkness in WandaVision, then came US Agent and Val in The Falcon and the Winter Soldier, and most recently there was Yelena Belova and the rest of her dysfunctional adopted Russian family. Now, it's time for the world to meet Shang-Chi.

The film has been in the works for a long time, and when it comes to mainstay superheroes, Shang-Chi is far from what someone would picture. The character hasn't really had much of a presence in the comics, and when he does, it's usually in shorter arcs in passing.

But much like Feige did with Iron Man and the Guardians of the Galaxy, the folks at Marvel Studios are aiming to make the Master of Kung Fu bigger than he has ever been before.

While the film hasn't been released yet, Shang-Chi is garnering almost unanimous praise across the board from critics and fans that have been able to see the movie early. It seems like director Destin Daniel Cretton, star Sim Liu, and everyone else involved, have hit a home run.

As well-received as Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings has been, one would have thought director Destin Daniel Cretton was confident in boarding the project from the get-go. This wasn't the case, however, as he had fears about joining such a large Marvel film; fears which were quelled thanks to Black Panther director Ryan Coogler.


Black Panther Shang-Chi

During the virtual press conference for Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings, director Destin Daniel Cretton was asked what about both the character and his world brought him on to tell this story. 

Cretton was candid in expressing that he “really personally connect[ed] with Shang-Chi’s journey,” and what he loved about this superhero “doesn’t get splashed with chemicals…:”

“I really personally connect with Shang-Chi’s journey. I love that this is a superhero that doesn’t get splashed with chemicals to get his superpowers. That it is a journey of self discovery, of growing up, of learning how to finally deal with pain that he’s been running away from his entire life. And that when he is finally able to look inside, into his past, and embrace good, bad, the joy, the pain, and accept it all as a part of himself. That’s when he finally steps into his big boy shoes, and I think that’s what we’re all doing as humans in some way or another.”

The director admitted he did in fact have a hesitancy to join a film of this size, saying it was “a giant personal fear:”

“I did have a giant personal fear of stepping into a movie like this. When I pitched to Kevin, in the pitch… I told myself I was just going to be myself. I have a tendency to be pressured to not be myself, and I was like I’m just going to be myself in this pitch and walk out feeling good that I did that.”

More than getting over the fear of such a large project, Cretton also had told his manager in the past to never “ever let me do a Marvel movie:” 

“The last thing that I admitted was, they asked me ‘have you always wanted to do a big Marvel movie,’ and I was like, ‘Should I tell them?...’ the truth was it was a few weeks before they announced they were looking for directors for this movie that I made a very real decision and called… my agent, and said, ‘Don’t ever let me do a Marvel movie.’”

Quite an interesting thing to have said coming from the director of what is likely to be the next biggest Marvel superhero. Even better yet is that this is something which he “said… to Kevin, and Louis, and Victoria, and Johnathan in the pitch…: 

“... And I said this to Kevin, and Louis, and Victoria, and Johnathan in the pitch, and then explained to them when they made the announcement for Shang-Chi, something sparked in me that made me have to go in and just take a meeting, and that turned into… this. When I was in the elevator going down, I was leaving that meeting, I thought, ‘you’re an idiot for saying that…’”

Of course, Cretton was destined to get the movie, as he was Marvel Studios’ pick to helm the feature film despite what he had admitted during his pitch. 

Yet, his fears of such a large Marvel movie remained. Thankfully, his good friend Ryan Coogler was able to give him some good advice.

Cretton mentions that he did in fact “ have a conversation with Ryan Coogler:”

“But, when it came down to it, I did have a conversation with Ryan Coogler, and I was really… you know, I was scared of stepping into a big studio movie like this, and scared what it might do to me… will the pressure… will I cave? I had a lot of fears.”

The director of Black Panther had some guiding words that helped to ease the mind of Shang-Chi’s director. 

The veteran Marvel director, who is now working on Black Panther: Wakanda Forever, told Cretton this film could “be the hardest thing potentially that [he] has done up until this point...:”

“The thing that Ryan said to me, which really eased my mind, was, ‘The pressure is hard, it’ll be the hardest thing potentially that you have done up until this point, but none of that pressure or none of those complications come from the people that you’re working with or for.’” 

Coogler’s words seem to have rung true, with Cretton confirming “that’s what [he’s] found,” and that Marvel Studios is “a very special place to work…:”

“... that’s what I have found. This is like a very special place to work, where, not to toot Kevin [Feige]’s horn, but there is an environment of curiosity, of exploration, that comes from the top down. There is no fear-based mentality in this studio, which has really allowed us to take risks and chances, and be able to instill that same fearless exploration with everybody involved in this film. I think that's a huge reason that the movie turned out the way that it did.”


It's always interesting to hear the stories of Marvel naysayers being enticed over to their side of things before then coming out the other end with nothing but possible things to say. Of course, it doesn't always happen that way looking at experiences with directors like Edgar Wright or Scott Derickson. But if anything, it seems like those situations are far from common.

Even more heartwarming is how Black Panther's director was able to ease Cretton's worries about coming into the MCU and the pressure that comes with it. It certainly seems like his words worked, with Shang-Chi now being on track to become an MCU favorite.

Ryan Coogler isn't having the easiest time himself these days, with Black Panther: Wakanda Forever being admittedly one of the hardest things that the director has had to do in his life. Hopefully, Destin Daniel Cretton has been able to provide some encouraging words of his own to help Coogler through his own fears and struggles with his upcoming Marvel film.

- In This Article: Shang-Chi 2
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- About The Author: Russ Milheim
Russ Milheim is the Industry Relations Coordinator at The Direct. On top of utilizing his expertise on the many corners of today’s entertainment to cover the latest news and theories, he establishes and maintains communication and relations between the outlet and the many studio and talent representatives.