Disney Plus may be removing some of their original films and series off the streamer, but on May 24, 2023, American Born Chinese premiered with eight episodes based on a classic graphic novel made by Gene Luen Yang that has the same title.
American Born Chinese is a coming-of-age story, one that even features crime fighting and superhuman abilities amongst its main characters.
This might get you thinking: is it a part of Marvel Studios’ MCU? Or the Multiverse, perhaps? Find out here!
WARNING: This article contains MINOR SPOILERS for the American Born Chinese series. So read at your own risk!
Is American Born Chinese in the Marvel Cinematic Universe?
I get why you would think that. It’s a formulaic series that has all the typical qualities and elements Marvel Studios would produce: action fighting scenes, a similarly highschool Spider-Man set-up, and even having gods and demons in the story.
American Born Chinese was directed by Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings and Everything, Everywhere All At Once helmer Destin Daniel Cretton (hence, the early cast reunion and the MCU-like qualities of the show).
American Born Chinese also features the main protagonists in Everything, Everywhere All At Once (2022), which include Michelle Yeoh, Ke Huy Quan, Stephanie Hsu, and James Hong.
Note that Michelle Yeoh, Stephanie Hsu, and Ke Huy Quan are part of the MCU.
Yeoh played Aleta Ogord in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, while she returned in Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings as a different character named Ying Nan.
Hsu, on the other hand, starred alongside Yeoh in Shang-Chi as Soo.
Meanwhile, Quan is the most recent addition to the MCU roster, as Marvel boss Kevin Feige personally contacted him to be cast in a major role in Loki Season 2, which is set to debut sometime in October this year.
In short, no, American Born Chinese is not a part of the MCU, but it does have MCU actors involved. Not to mention, the series didn’t shy away in mentioning major franchises such as the MCU, DCU, and even Star Wars.
American Born Chinese: What Makes It An MCU Show?
American Born Chinese follows Jin Wang (played by Ben Wang) and Wei-Chen (Jimmy Liu) as they work together to find the fourth scroll that would decide the fate of the heavenly realm the Chinese mythical gods reside in.
From the premise alone, American Born Chinese already sounds like an MCU show waiting to happen. Except it doesn’t have the classic intro of Marvel Studios.
American Born Chinese is based on a 2006 graphic novel created by Gene Luen Yang, where the story is based on the author’s experience living as an Asian in America set in the early ‘90s.
The graphic novel holds a three-part story: the story of the Monkey King of Flower-Fruit Mountain (Journey to the West), a child of Chinese immigrants (Jin Wang), and Danny the 16-year-old American boy with his Chinese cousin Chin-Kee.
The mixture of realism, mythological lore, and fantasy elements are all of which similarly describe common MCU films and shows.
Don’t forget, our protagonist who always seeks a normal life, rejecting any other matters than to lead being popular in high school.
In this case, Jin wants to live a ‘normal life’ by joining the soccer team, get the girl of his dreams, all the while becoming friends with the popular kids he obviously does not fit in with.
It cannot be denied that the Marvel Cinematic Universe is one of the major superhero franchises that still has an ongoing storyline aka MCU timeline as of current, urging viewers to relate any new superhero-driven stories to the MCU.
Of course, there’s the existence of the ever-expanding Multiverse, which conveniently explains the sudden connections among films and series, crossover superheroes within Earth-616 and other universes.
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Could American Born Chinese Be a Part of the MCU?
Well, to say the least, American Born Chinese has the potential, considering it could easily be identified under the superhero genre.
If you noticed, the American Born Chinese series has similar features that WandaVision previously made, one of which is the involvement of sitcoms to tell the story.
WandaVision is shown in a sitcom setting because of Wanda Maximoff’s coping mechanism, in fear of not knowing how to accept the reality that she has lost her loved ones, particularly, Vision and her only family left, Pietro.
Sitcoms were a form of comfort for Wanda, which is why she ended up incorporating this into Westview that, unbeknownst to her, turned her into a villain of her own show and in the MCU.
As for American Born Chinese, the sitcom, Beyond Repair, shows the bigoted past the actor Jamie Yao (played by Ke Huy Quan) had to play in order to get involved in the acting industry.
Yao played a stereotypical Asian character named Freddy Wong, whose strong accent and Asian blood drove him to become a problematic image from the sitcom, a problematic representation for the Chinese community.
But after years since the last time he played Wong, Jamie Yao stood up to the press and defended that he deserves to be a hero or a star of his own show rather than some walking stereotype the people know him from.
So, what do you think? Does American Born Chinese sound like it could be an MCU show?
For now, you can catch all eight episodes of American Born Chinese streaming on Disney Plus!