Shang-Chi and The Legend of the Ten Rings director Destin Daniel Cretton directed a scene in the film from his phone in hospital after his wife went into labor. The Marvel film follows the titular Shang-Chi (Simu Liu), a martial arts expert who is forced to confront demons from his past after being drawn back into a mysterious criminal organization known as the Ten Rings. The upcoming blockbuster, which was initially supposed to be released in February of this year, was delayed several times due to the COVID-19 pandemic and is now scheduled for release on September 3.
Cretton is best known for his directorial work on dramas like Short Term 12, The Glass Castle, and Just Mercy, with Shang-Chi marking his first foray into the MCU. Shang-Chi is the first Marvel film to feature an Asian lead, and the studio sought Asian or Asian-American filmmakers to bring the story to life. They eventually chose Cretton, a Japanese-American director, to lead the project. The film also features a predominantly Asian cast, including Awkwafina, Michelle Yeoh, Tony Leung, Fala Chen, and Meng’er Zhang.
In a recent interview with CinemaBlend, Cretton described directing a crucial scene from the hospital by phone shortly after his wife, Nikki Chapman, gave birth to their second child. Chapman went into labor partway through the filming of Shang-Chi, a production that was already hampered with disruptions due to the COVID-19 pandemic (although, thankfully, nobody on set tested positive for coronavirus). It seems, however, that Cretton didn’t let the sudden arrival of his baby stop him from bringing his vision for Shang-Chi to life. He explains:
“I was shooting the next morning, and I had to rush my wife to the hospital, and we had our child in the middle of the night. They were shooting the scene where Shang-Chi is home at his dad’s compound, and he goes up to that post. We see it a lot [in the trailers]. The indentation from his childhood hits. And then he sits down and has a memory of his mom. That was a scene that I actually directed from my iPhone in the hospital.”
The scene Cretton describes is a powerful and emotional moment that has been featured in several trailers for the film. The trailers imply that, as a child, part of Shang-Chi’s training involved repeatedly punching a wooden support beam, so much so that it actually became indented. With the film promising to feature Shang-Chi delving into his past, this moment of returning to where everything began is crucial to the hero’s emotional journey. The fact that the scene was directed over the phone only makes it all the more impressive, and bodes well for Cretton’s potential return to direct a future Marvel film.
Cretton’s dedication to his craft is admirable, especially considering that many productions likely would have halted filming or had tasks delegated to a second unit director. While the filmmaking process is infamous for its long and arduous working days, compounding that with a newborn baby is not a task for the faint of heart. It’s clear that Shang-Chi, from its conception, has been a project that aspires to be different from other MCU movies, and this is reflected in the passion of both Cretton and the wider cast and crew. Star Simu Liu has been pushing Marvel to feature an Asian superhero since 2014, before eventually throwing his hat in the ring after Shang-Chi was first announced. Much in the same way that Black Panther was a watershed moment for representation in the MCU and for superhero movies in general, Shang-Chi and The Legend of the Ten Rings has the opportunity to be equally as impactful when it releases on September 3.