'Shang-Chi' hits theaters, showing how Marvel flipped the script on Hollywood

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(CNN)The Shang-Chi comics, titled "Master of Kung Fu," were inspired by movies and TV successful the 1970s -- specifically, movie prima Bruce Lee and the bid "Kung Fu." As "Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings" hits theaters, it's a stark illustration of however Marvel has flipped the publication connected the pop-culture equation.

In the 1970s, Marvel's efforts to construe its characters to the surface were often tales of frustration. Today, comic books person go the life's humor of movies and TV commercially, with Marvel emerging arsenic the industry's astir reliable box-office draw, Warner Bros. throwing resources into DC and streaming services seemingly adapting 1 graphic caller aft another.

Marvel introduced Shang-Chi arsenic the lad of the villainous Fu Manchu, aft having sought to accommodate "Kung Fu" into comic-book form. Unable to bash truthful the institution moved on, and erstwhile creator Paul Gulacy came aboard helium rendered the cardinal quality arsenic a striking likeness to Lee, who died successful 1973.

    At the time, the precocious Marvel patriarch Stan Lee faced regular setbacks and disappointments successful his efforts to bring its characters to the screen, thing helium spoke astir freely aft Marvel scaled the heights of the movie business.

      As erstwhile Marvel Productions caput Margaret Loesch told Inverse successful 2018, Lee adjacent met with Bruce Lee's son, Brandon Lee, astir the imaginable of portraying Shang-Chi, an thought that ne'er got disconnected the ground. (Brandon Lee died tragically arsenic his acting vocation was taking off, successful an mishap connected the acceptable of the movie "The Crow" successful 1993.)

      Marvel enjoyed occasional breakthroughs -- specified arsenic the Hulk and Spider-Man live-action TV shows that premiered successful 1978 -- but the company's way grounds connected surface was spotty astatine best, and atrocious astatine worst.

      A country   from the upcoming 'Eternals,' Marvel's adjacent  big-screen blockbuster.

      In TV, an animated mentation of Marvel's flagship rubric "Fantastic Four" replaced the Human Torch (whose rights had been independently optioned) with a wisecracking robot named H.E.R.B.I.E. Ron Ely starred successful a camped-up mentation of the pulp quality "Doc Savage, The Man of Bronze." "Conan the Barbarian" launched Arnold Schwarzenegger arsenic an enactment prima successful the 1980s, but a fewer years aboriginal "Howard the Duck" became synonymous with box-office disaster.

      As Stan Lee aboriginal noted, backmost past Marvel didn't clasp originative power implicit its properties successful different media, resulting successful "low-budget quickies" based connected its titles, selling accumulation options to "anyone who had $1.98 for the rights."

      Discussing the narration past betwixt comic books and Hollywood, Gerry Conway, a comic-book-turned-TV writer who near his stamp connected specified characters arsenic Spider-Man and the Punisher, told the Los Angeles Times successful 2003, "The radical who were successful a presumption to marque decisions were mostly ignorant arsenic to what the worldly was, and determination was an arrogance attendant to that ignorance."

      Those dynamics began to alteration acknowledgment to Tim Burton's darker "Batman" successful 1989, from Marvel rival DC, followed by "X-Men" (a Marvel rubric whose rights had been sold off) successful 2000. But plentifulness of hiccups and missteps remained.

      "Iron Man" kicked disconnected  a question    of Marvel movie   hits.

        Then successful 2008, Marvel Studios sought to prehend power of its cinematic destiny, producing "Iron Man" starring disconnected a five-movie program (including "Captain America: The First Avenger" and "Thor") that culminated with the superhero team-up "Avengers."

        The rest, arsenic they say, is history. Yet that doesn't marque the region Marvel has traveled successful that comparatively abbreviated span -- with "Eternals," writer-artist Jack Kirby's esoteric creation, up adjacent -- immoderate little remarkable, particularly for comic-book fans who lived done the atrocious aged days of superheroes' dysfunctional adventures successful Hollywood.

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