China needs a homegrown su­per­hero

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - PAGE TWO - Ine,

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

ZHOU HUAIZHONG / FOR CHINA DAILY

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.

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