Is China set to ban Shang Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings from Marvel due to its links to Fu Manchu?
English novelist Sax Rohmer said he asked a Ouija board how he would make his fortune and wrote: “Chinaman”.
Rohmer had never been to China and therefore relied on early 19th century clichés of the “yellow fever” hysteria that made the Chinese a malicious and expansionist enemy that threatened white Western hegemony.
In 1913, his first novel in the series was published, Le Mystère du Dr Fu-Manchu.
So reads the character’s first introduction to the reader:
“Imagine a person, tall, lean and feline, with high shoulders, with a forehead like Shakespeare and a face like Satan, a clean shaven head and long magnetic eyes… Invest him in all the cruel cunning of an entire Eastern race. . , accumulated in a giant intellect, with all the resources of science past and present… Imagine this horrible being, and you have a picture of Dr. Fu Manchu, the yellow peril embodied in one man. ‘
Christopher Lee in The Brides of Fu Manchu – 1966
Salesmen as Fu Manchu in the 1965 thriller The Face of Fu Manchu directed by Don Sharp
Fu Manchu became pulp fiction, a ghastly hit, and although Rohmer killed the character on several occasions, he was always compelled to bring him back to life.
In total, there were 13 Fu Manchu novels by Rohmer and the character has inspired multiple spinoffs on stage, on screen, in radio series and comics.
The mustached criminal mastermind has been portrayed by white Britons such as Boris Karloff, Peter Sellers, and Christopher Lee.
He influenced James Bond villain Dr No and Flash Gordon’s Ming the Merciless.
By the mid-20th century, the character was so entrenched in popular culture that Marvel writer Steve Englehart and artist Jim Starlin were inspired to create Shang-Chi in 1972.
Rohmer’s creation influenced Ming the Merciless in the 1980 film, Flash Gordon
Boris Karloff in The Mask of Fu Manchu, 1930
Fu Manchu was Sang-Chi’s evil father in the longtime comic book Master of Kung Fu, which ran from 1973 to 1983.
He has been portrayed in a manner that is essentially consistent with Rohmer’s novels: a brilliant and calculating master villain who aspires to rule the world.
Beginning in 1983, Shang-Chi – billed as the son of Fu Manchu by Marvel – had his own comic book series.