Asian American representation in film is on the rise as Marvel Studios’ president, Kevin Feige, announces that fans will not have to wait long to see a Southeast Asian superhero. Disney’s Raya and the Last Dragon, inspired by Southeast Asian culture, has brought attention to Southeast Asian actors, actresses, and screenwriters . With Kelly Marie Tran voicing the heroine Raya, she will become the first Southeast Asian actress to lead a Disney animated film. Other cast members include Awkwafina, Daniel Dae Kim, Sandra Oh, Benedict Wong, Thalia Tran, Gemma Chan, and Alan Tudyk. The script was written by Adele Lim, a Malaysian-born screenwriter that also worked on the movie Crazy Rich Asians. The growing wave of Asian representation in the East has led to more speculation about major film industries expanding their cultural scope to reach the West . This speculation eventually reached the ears of Feige at a press conference in Singapore when he was asked about having a Southeast Asian superhero, in which he replied, “ [it’s] high time we get a Southeast Asian Marvel superhero on Disney+... And I think you won’t have to wait there very long at all.” This news brings hope for Southeast Asian representation.
Furthermore, Marvel already has plans to release its first Asian-led superhero film, Shang Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings with Asian stars such as Simu Liu, playing the Chinese-born superhero Shang Chi, Awkwafina, Tony Leung, Ronny Chieng, and Michelle Teoh. There’s also a Filipina superhero, Wave, in the Marvel Comics’ War of the Realms: New Agents of Atlas. This comic was brought to life by several people of Asian descent such as Asian-American Greg Pak as the comic’s creator, Filipino comic artist Leinil Yu who worked on the costume design, and Alyssa Wong who helped create Wave’s backstory. Not only are there films and comics centered around Southeast culture but a game as well called Marvel Future Fight, created by South Korean developer Netmarble Games in collaboration with Marvel Entertainment.
More forms of entertainment have reached Eastern cultures, displaying proper representation in American media. Asian Americans want to see their culture up on the big screen and displayed so that they can relate to the characters and the subtle inside jokes that maybe only people who grew up in Asian cultures would only understand. It is even more amazing when a creation made by Asians receives recognition at award shows. The famous Oscar-winning film Parasite showed the world that Asians are players in the entertainment field and can produce amazing films. Chinese filmmaker, Chloé Zhao is the first woman of Asian descent to be nominated for a Best Director Golden Globe for her feature film Nomadland . Her next work is on a blockbuster film with the Marvel Cinematic Universe superhero film Eternals. As Asian culture is placed in the limelight of media, it is only a short wait until more films, games, TV shows, and comics centered around Asian cultures and many other cultures are released.