Rumors say that it won’t be too long before a Southeast Asian Marvel character suits up in the expansive universe of Marvel on Disney+. Will we see Filipino superhero, Wave, make a splash?
“For all of those who hated us because of the color of our skin, or been made to feel less than because of it; NO MORE. This is OUR movie, and it will be IMPOSSIBLE for Hollywood to ignore us after this,” writes Simu Liu in a Facebook post, which presumably marked the end of filming of the upcoming landmark Marvel flick, Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings. Bound to break records and make history with the cinematic universe’s first Asian superhero, featuring an all-Asian cast, this growing movement in Hollywood has come a long way from being just a stereotype perpetuated, a patronizing inclusion for the sake of, or a diversity quota fulfilled. Now, the sidekicks get to be the heroes. Finally.
While still very far from equal representation in mainstream media, it seems to be a fairly good time to be Asian in film and television as of late. From Crazy, Rich, Asians, Parasite, and recently, Minari, as well as of the soon-to-be-released Mortal Kombat and Raya And The Last Dragon, the glass ceilings have slowly been shattered and people are starting to take serious notice. Carving out a space for stories of many rich cultures, the Asian heritage has been hitting great strides over the course of the past few years. Not only are we being included in the conversation, but we are taking command of the narrative, telling the story from our point-of-view, and kicking ass while we’re at it.
Let’s Talk Theories
“I think you won’t have to wait there very long at all. We’ve announced a number of shows and we’ve got more in the works,” says Marvel Studios President, Kevin Feige, when pressed on the prospect of a Southeast Asian superhero rising from the celebrated canon of Marvel. Speaking at the press conference for the launch of Disney+ in Singapore, the head honcho furthers, “As I said, the world outside your window, no matter where you are, is what the Marvel world will represent.”
Speculative as it may be at this very early point, there are many possibilities that Marvel can explore with introducing a Southeast Asian superhero. One early theory is traced to the mobile game offshoot, Marvel Future Fight, where four Southeast Asian superheroes come together to form Warriors Of The Sky. An all-original team representing key heritages in the region, this is where we meet War Tiger (Thailand), Blue Dragon (Vietnam), Sun Bird (Malaysia), and Shadow Shell (Taiwan). While it may be a cross-platform potential, it isn’t entirely a strange occurrence in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Highly likely, these deeply rooted and resonant characters could be in the cards for an introduction on the streaming service platform.
However, one of the more discussed rumor is the assemblage of Agents Of Atlas, a relaunch of a team in the 1950s, this time led by former S.H.I.E.L.D. agent, Jimmy Woo. (You might know him from the Ant-Man franchise of Marvel, and most recently, in WandaVision.) Here, he brings together Asian superheroes to protect this side of the world from the Queen of Cinders and the forces of Muspelheim. In this iteration, we see Brawn (Amadeus Cho), Silk (Cindy Moon), Shang-Chi, Aero (Lei Ling),White Fox (Ami Han), Crescent and Io, and yes, Filipino superhero, Wave (Pearl Pangan).
While it is fictional, the chronicles in the comic books are grounded in geographical and cultural truths. This couldn’t be more true for the double kampilan-wielding Filipino superhero, Wave, who has water-based powers to control the sea, as well as to create swelling surges of waves. Brought to life by Asian-American writer, Greg Pak, with her costume designed and detailed by Filipino comic artist, Leinil Yu, she made quite the splash on the pages of War Of The Realms: The New Agents Of Atlas in 2019. The Cebuana heroine is authentic as can possibly be, boasting of a bubbling backstory by speculative fiction author, Alyssa Wong.
“I’m also so excited for Wave and the fact that we have a Filipina superhero who’s taking center stage. I never got to see Filipino characters when I was growing up, so it’s so, so cool to write Wave now,” says the half-Filipino author in a statement from Marvel. “She’s strong because of her water manipulation powers, but she also draws strength from her community and her lolo. And that feels emotionally true, to me, for a Filipino superhero.”
To fuel theories even more, Pak manifested something on Twitter that same year. “Just to speak it into the world: Amadeus Cho and/or Wave and/or Agents of Atlas in film or television within two years,” he wrote. Hushed whispers trailing the grapevine as it may be for now, doesn’t the (Marvel Cinematic) universe listen?
Wanted: Filipino Superhero
Digging deep into the files of Marvel, it seems that Wave isn’t the only Filipino superhero to potentially have their go in the limelight. In the third issue of Aero, we are introduced to the intriguing Sea Hunter. The second Filipino to take to the Marvel mantle in her slick red suit and intimidating spear, she is seen carrying the Philippine flag no less.
Very proud to present one of my first covers for Marvel! Aero #3 retailer exclusive variant for Big Time Collectibles…Posted by Kael Ngu on Monday, August 26, 2019
Not much is known from their adventures so far. However, looking closely at the Philippine exclusive front-facing flap, it reveals some sort of force of Filipino superheroes emerging. This super group includes the mysterious Red Feather, the known head of the Triumph Division (Pangkat ng Tagumpay) who has shared a few pages with Iron Man in Invincible Iron Man #2 in 2018.
Currently at the cusp of Phase 4 of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, it might be a bit of a wait before we see this development realized. With the next few years carefully mapped out following the overwhelming and Earth-shaking announcement last year, there is a lot of ground to cover. But as it stands, taking into account the mind-blowing commercial and critical success that is WandaVision, the limits do not exist for the orchestrators of Marvel. Until then, however, we might as well just will the possibility a Filipino superhero into existence. Who wouldn’t want to see one of us rise and join the ranks of the many greats that have taken the comic books and turned it into the paragon of pop culture that it has become?
It’s our turn to assemble now.