China needs a homegrown superhero
The Belt and Road Initiative is brilliant and the Long March rocket program is admirably ambitious. But if China really wants to sound a clarion call on the world stage, it needs a homegrown A-list superhero.
Think about it. America has Superman. Canada has Wolverine. Russia has Red Fury and Britain has Judge Dredd.
Even the Cayman Islands has its own elite crime fighter in Fishkar, an environmentalist who was murdered by being thrown into a toxic waste overflow, then returned to life as a half-fish, half-human mutant seeking revenge on industrial polluters.
Rather than waiting for US comic book giants Marvel and DC to give birth to a Chinese superhero, why can’t one of this country’s world- class animation studios beat them to the punch, as they’ve already done on TV? Tibet’s first original animated series — a 52-episode chronicle of quasi superhero Agu Dainba, who helps free the poor and oppressed from feudal overlords — debuted in May to rave reviews. Another huge hit is Alpha Group Co Ltd’s Super Wings, which in April became the first Chinese production nominated for an International Emmy Kids Award.
If only to counterbalance the jingoistic excesses of most of the rest of the world’s fictional crusaders, Chinese aficionados deserve an equivalent of Superman or Wolverine. The former, created by Canadian artist Joe Shuster for DC Comics in 1938, has always stood for “Truth, justice … and the American way!” Wolverine, created for Marvel by Americans Len Wein and John Romita in 1974, is a cartoon Canadian: a laconic, beerswilling loner who eviscerates bad guys with his adamantium claws — presumably because he doesn’t carry a hockey stick. In X-Men Origins: Wolver
super-villain General Stryker (Danny Huston) tries to convince Wolverine (Hugh Jackman) to join a top secret US commando unit by pleading: “Your country needs you!” Wolverine growls back: “Forget it — I’m Canadian!”
Chinese artists would do well to mimic Wolverine’s fervent nationalism by saying “Forget it!” when Marvel and/or DC invariably decide it’s time to tap the Chinese market— and perhaps the upcoming big-screen reboot of Leifeng Man will serve as the impetus.
Leifeng Man originally appeared in short films in 2011 and 2013. The plot synopsis released by producers of the new feature-length incarnation is delightfully droll:
“College student Zheng Yi is a warm-hearted young man who likes to help people in need. To buy a racing bicy- cle, Zheng has several parttime jobs. One day, one of his coworkers is forced to drink digouyou, black market cooking oil made from waste collected from illicit sources such as grease traps and sewer drain runoff. This alters his genes and turns him into ‘Digouyou Man’. Disguising himself with a hat that looks just like the one worn by famous CPC soldier/icon Lei Feng, Zheng gets involved in a series of fights with Digouyou Man, earning him the nickname ‘Leifeng Man’. Meanwhile, Shen, the owner of a toy shop, invents a robot that can control the minds of children. After Leifeng Man interferes with his plan, the shop owner kidnaps Zheng’s friends and holds them hostage. Leifeng Man must now join forces with Digouyou Man to defeat Shen and his robot.”
Not as cool as Wolverine’s origin saga, but it’s a start.
Contact the writer at murraygreig@ chinadaily.com.cn
A woman wearing ancient costumes attracts the attention of a passer-by at Tang Paradise, a park modeled after a Tang Dynasty (618-917) garden, in Xi’an, Shaanxi province, on Saturday.