Chinese Marvel Super Heros and Super Villains

2013 saw Stan Lee in China for the creation of his Annihilator, the Marvel Chinese super hero movie currently in production and scheduled for release next year. This year we’ve seen a very cool new Chinese mutant, Blink, introduced in X-Men: Days of Future Past. I thought this would be a good time to take a look at some existing Chinese super heroes and villains in the Marvel universe.

Martin Li

First Appearance: Free Comic Book Day special edition Spiderman, 2007

Alias: Mister Negative 

Powers: charge objects with black electrical energy, corruption by touch, mind control/ healing by touch

Origins:  He was a snakehead who smuggled Chinese slaves to America on the ship the Golden Mountain. When it crashed, he stole the identity of a Fujian slave on board. Captured by the Maggia crime family, he survived an experiment to develop a new designer drug and escaped. With his new powers,  and the dual personality that came with them, Mr Negative took control of the White Dragons gang in China town, whilst the benevolent Martin Li remained the philanthropist. His regular enemy is Spiderman and he engages in turf wars with the Hood.

What I like About Mr Negative

He is a somewhat complex character, a sort of Chinese Two-Face whose polarized duo personae enhance the story’s development. The coolness of his photographic negative appearance is matched by that of his powers, which reverse with his personality, as Mr Negative he corrupts by touch, as Martin Li he heals. Martin Li’s volunteer soup kitchen enterprise F.E.A.S.T. really reminds me of the real life creator of the fortune cookie, David Jung, Chinese immigrant to Los Angeles and founder of the Hong Kong Noodle Company. In 1918, Jung began making cookies containing inspirational Presbyterian messages which he handed out to the needy wandering outside his shop.



First Appearance: Special Marvel Edition #15, 1973

Alias: Master of Kung Fu

Abilities: Trained in all combat martial arts

Origins: Son of the criminal mastermind Fu Manchu, Shang-Chi underwent rigorous kung fu training from an early age. After he learned the truth about his father, Shang-Chi turned against him, and retreated to the village of Yang Yin in Henan to live as a fisherman, returning during the Civil War and later working for MI-13 and joining Heros for Hire.

What I Like About Shang-Chi

I love Shang-Chi’s connection to English literature. His father is the all powerful Chinese villain created by writer Sax Rohmer, and MI-13 the British Intelligence Agency created by Marvel UK. I recently enjoyed an excellent mini-series, “The Revolutionary Wars”, which revisited Knights of the Pendragon, Death’s Head and other great Marvel UK characters. Shang-Chi is very much inspired by powerful male kung fu characters from the very popular movies of Shaw Brothers Studios, for which they are best known in the West. His first appearance bears more than a passing resemblance to the heroes of films such as One Armed Swordsman directed by Chang Cheh, 1967 and to Bruce Lee, who also worked with Shaw Brothers. 


Jubilation Lee

First Appearance: Uncanny X-Men #224, 1989

Alias: Jubilee, Wondra

Powers: plasmoid control/ flight, super human strength, limited invulnerability

Origins: Daughter of wealthy American Chinese parents, the teenage Jubilation lived in a shopping mall after she lost them. As the young mutant, who could control plasmoids, Jubilee joined the X-Men, Generation X, and subsequently X-Corps.Having lost her powers after M Day, she gained new powers with Night Trasher’s help, and joined the New Warrios as Wondra.

What I Like About Jubilee & Wondra

What makes Jubilee a cracking super heroine is,  firstly, that her ability to manipulate plamoids means she could effectively shoot fireworks from her fingers. As you may know, the Chinese invented gunpowder and subsequently fireworks, thousands of years ago. I also love the fact that as Wondra, she reinvented her identity and much improved her powers after she had lost them. Currently, she’s a vampire, after being bitten by Zarus, son of Dracula, which makes her allergic to garlic. Agonising for a Chinese person. So many delicious dishes flavoured by that particular allium.


Plan Tzu

First Apperance: Yellow Claw #1 1956

Alias: Yellow Claw, Golden Claw, The Claw, Master Plan, The One

Powers: Mental illusions, sorcery, raising the dead

Abilities: Advanced expertise in biochemistry, robotics, genetics, superb hand-to-hand combat

Origins: Descended from Genghis Khan, Plan Tzu is the leader of the Atlas Foundation, a network of secret societies around the world dedicated to world domination. Frequently clashing with S.H.I.E.L.D., he allied with Hydra and at one point entered a super villain contest with the Mandarin. Later versions of the Plan Tzu turns his organization to improving the world, finding a successor, Jimmy Woo, training him up in secret.

What I Like About Plan Tau

He started off as little more than a 1950s racially dubious, anti-communist exercise, but as society became globalized and understanding of Eastern cultures great improved, Plan Tzu’s story was redeveloped and improved, making him the venerable old master who keeps himself in the shadows whilst watching over his notice, making him stronger by providing obstacles for him to overcome, in the shape of the Yellow Claw, a very Chinese trait indeed.


Sasha Hammer

First Apperance: Invincible Ironman #1, 2007

Alias: Detroit Steel

Power: super human strength, high endurance, flight, energy whip from fingertips

Origins: granddaughter of the financier Justin Hammer and daughter of Justine Hammer and the Mandarin, Sasha helped terrorist Ezekiel Stane in his attacks on Stark Industries. Later she became head of Hammer Industries and began developing the Repulsor-Tech armour Detroit Steel, launching a series of powerful attacks on Stark Industries, Iron Man and War Machine. At the defeat of the original pilot Sasha took to piloting Detroit Steel herself.

What I Like about Detroit Steel

 This stems partly from my fascination with the history of Detroit as a city and my love of the original three Robocop movies. Moreover, Detorit Steel is great modern update and continuation of the Iron Man’s nemesis, the Mandarin, proving herself time and time again, to be more than a match for him.  Her very cool physical upgrades mean that the armour only needs to enhance her own inbuilt powers.


The Mandarin 

First Appearance: Tales of Suspense #50 1964

Powers: Mind control, matter control, disintegration beam, vortex creation, ice blasts, discharge of electricity, flames, deadly gases, light bursts and clouds of darkness

Abilities: superb athlete and swordsman well trained in martial arts, scientific genius

Origins: Desendant of Genghis Khan, the Mandarin’s wealthy Chinese parents lost everything during the communist revolution. He finds a crashed Makluan starship in the Valley of Spirits and gains ten alien rings. Having mastered Makluan technology and his newly gained powers, the Mandarin plotted to conquer the world. Frequently clashing the Avengers, Iron Man being his archenemy.

What I Like About The Mandarin 

This ultimate Chinese arch super villain has appeared in many guises throughout the Marvel universe, but always awe-inspiriningly depicted with long, sleek hair, purposeful beard and moustache that emphasize the strength in his features and grand magnificent gowns.  Clearly inspired by the unforgettable Chinese criminal mastermind Fu Manchu created by Rohmer in the 1930s, he is often viewed as a stereotype that represented Western fears of “the Yellow Peril”. And the recent Iron Man 3 movie, trying not to offend the Chinese, have made a bit of a mess of the character,  rendering him a powerless puppet of unclear origin. I think his charisma, utter belief in his cause, awesome powers and magnificent presence, gives him great strength as a villain. As I said in my earlier article on this film, we need great villains just as much as great heroes. Marvel’s One Shot, “All Hail the King”, released earlier this year, did well to redeem a little, the “bad actor from Croydon” development of the Mandarin.

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