With this week’s release of the official trailer of the first Marvel movie that features a superhero of Asian descent, many Asians across the world are collectively rejoicing at what they perceive as a “victory”. Within two days of its release, the first trailer of the high-octane action film Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings had already amassed more than 12 million views on YouTube. Some internet users are saying it’s about time we saw Asian representation in a big Hollywood franchise. But is it genuine Chinese-Asian representation? Many movie fans are saying that Marvel Studios rarely disappoints its fans with its high-budget productions. But of course, Marvel wouldn’t accept any failure that would tarnish its international brand. On the contrary, the studio expects a humongous return on its investment. It’s anticipating that Shang-Chi will garner mass appeal within China’s domestic film market. The production is poised to be a blockbuster in mainland China upon its release later this year. Undoubtedly, that will make a big contribution to the film’s global box office success; there may even be sequels on the horizon. China’s 2021 box office already more than US’ entire 2020 take So, before I put a damper on this apparent “win” for us, I want to emphasise that I am also very proud to see a Chinese actor achieving superhero status in such a high-profile Hollywood film. To me, there is no national representation of any kind in this film. The harsh reality is that the studio’s sole goal is to achieve a big return on investment through China’s affluent domestic movie market. It is not truly motivated by a desire to give meaningful representation to Asians and give us a voice. Here are the facts, and facts always speak louder than words. China’s box office takings have already reached US$3 billion so far this year, significantly surpassing the US$2.1 billion made in the US in 2020, and the US$355 million in US ticket sales so far this year. In pre-pandemic 2019, China’s cinemas raked in US$9.1 billion and their revenue is expected to return to that level this year. No doubt anything that’s done with the Chinese market in mind is an easy way for big Hollywood studios to cash in. Mainland Chinese actors – and even Hong Kong ones – are often sourced for Hollywood films. Two local actors, Tony Leung Chiu-wai and Fala Chen, have been cast in prominent roles in Shang-Chi . The rapid expansion, and spending power, of China’s film market has underscored Western film studios’ growing dependence on them, and the studios’ growing fondness for featuring Chinese themes and characters and casting more Chinese and Asian actors in leading roles. Since we are their bread and butter, we should seize the opportunity and try to expand Asian representation in Hollywood films. We need to put a stop to the marginalisation and stereotyping of Asians in Hollywood productions, as their idea of representation is still very limited. It’s also time to push Western filmmakers to make movies that tell real Chinese and Hong Kong stories rather than exploiting our glittering cityscape and shimmering skyline to use as attractive backdrops in their films. Serious movies are not necessarily dull or tedious, or destined to be box office flops. Look no further than the critically acclaimed British film The Father and US production Nomadland . Both are slow-paced yet powerful films that force us to experience what the main characters are going through in their lives. The Father is about the devastating effects of dementia, while Nomadland is about a cash-strapped woman in her 60s living as a van-dwelling modern-day nomad in the United States. Hong Kong has so many touching human-interest stories that can provide excellent material for films. We also have some of the best actors in the industry. Take for example, the 2019 Hong Kong drama film Still Human . It tells the story of a paraplegic middle-aged man and his young Filipino domestic helper learning to embrace their lives with dignity, love and respect. The city also has many real-life heart-warming hero stories, so why not turn them into films and wow viewers both locally and globally? Some detractors might argue that our hero stories are too bland for Hollywood’s taste. But I beg to differ. Any human struggle depicts a unique hero in their own right. The success of a movie relies on the script, skills of the actors, storytelling, and cinematography. Oscars Academy invites Awkwafina and Constance Wu to join Look at Suk Suk , or “Uncle Uncle” in English, a critically acclaimed Hong Kong drama film depicting two secretly homosexual married men who bravely chose to embrace their sexuality in their twilight years. Going back to Shang-Chi , when I first saw the trailer, it seemed familiar to me and then I realised the main character, played by Chinese-Canadian Simu Liu , is very similar to the legendary Bruce Lee in his kung fu moves. In other words, Shang-Chi is Marvel’s modern interpretation of Bruce Lee. And even though I think Awkwafina is fabulous, why is she in every movie that has a Chinese or Asian theme? Casting the same Chinese actors is not giving movies a proper Chinese representation, nor will it promote diversity or provide opportunities for more Chinese talent. For true representation, Hollywood needs to cast the net wide and give our home-grown talent a chance. Our stories deserve just as much recognition on the silver screen, so Western studios need to do more than cast Asian actors in their stories, often with partially foreign perspectives, for the sake of making a quick buck. Luisa Tam is a Post correspondent who also hosts video tutorials on Cantonese language that are now part of Cathay Pacific’s in-flight entertainment programme.