Chinese superstar Wang Leehom is officially cast as the leading role in the movie adaptation of Stan Lee's first Chinese comic superhero 'Annihilator.' Recent major Superhero movies such as Superman, The Incredible Hulk, Iron Man 3, X-Men were all adaptations to Lee's comic-book characters. The first Chinese superhero movie is expected to bring about unprecedented appeal to viewers in China and around the world.
“[Leehom] not only adds value to the character, but also appeals to a global audience and he has great passion for this particular role and film,” said Eric Mika, CEO of Magic Storm CEO, in a statement, The Variety reports.
Leehom, who was born in New York, became a huge Chinese music star after entering a competition in Taiwan in the late 90s. He has more than 35 million fans on Chinese social media network Weibo and has appeared in films including “Lust, Caution” and “Love in Disguise,” which he also directed.
He is currently filming Michael Mann’s untitled cyber-terrorism film starring Chris Hemsworth. He is represented by Untitled Entertainment and UNEW (Universal Network East West).
The Annihilator is the story of "a young Chinese expatriate named Ming, who must choose between remaining in prison or enlist in a secret U.S. super soldier program." He ends up choosing to go through the nearly fatal procedure of targeted genetic enhancements from various animal species, but survives as a result of his “extreme resolve,” gained from “his family tradition of practicing qigong and martial arts.”
“Now, armed with remarkable abilities, he must confront a former rival with his own set of enhanced faculties. The reluctant hero is forced not only to face his personal demons, but also to defeat the villain who will destroy everything that he knows and loves."
Comic-book icon Stan Lee (left) and Chinese superhero 'Annihilator' (right).
Born in 1922, POW Entertainment’s Lee has created many of the original Marvel and DC superhero characters, including Captain America, X-Men, The Incredible Hulk, Spider-Man, and The Fantastic Four, and other, which has converted to more than $7.9 billion at the box office and sparked vast international toy, video game and merchandise sales.
“When I create a superhero, the superpower that the superhero has is really the easiest part. And it is also very important that the character has the type of qualities that will appeal and be understood by people all over the world. The character must be somebody that everybody everywhere can relate to and will care about.” Lee said in a video by Magic Storm Entertainment.
He explained how he received the inspiration to create the Annihilator. Because of the exceptional reception by the Chinese fans, he wanted to create this character as a token of appreciation. “I was so tremendously flattered when they gave me the title ‘exalted creator,’” he said, adding that he “would love to get a hero who is Chinese, whose origin is in China, but one who will appeal to people all over the world.
“And I would be so tremendously proud and flattered if I could be the one to create such a Chinese superhero to bring the best, the most popular, and the most universally appreciated superhero of all – a Chinese superhero to the screen as soon as possible and as magnificently as possible,” said Lee, whose latest cameo appearance was Iron Man 3.
The Annihilator franchise is being executively produced by Eric Mika and his company Magic Storm Entertainment LLC, which Lee is the chairman emeritus. The screenplay is written by Hollywood’s top screenwriter Dan Gilroy whose most recent film Real Steel has grossed over $200 million worldwide. He also wrote for The Bourne Legacy.
Meanwhile, the film will be produced by Barry Josephson and Douglas Falconer. Josephson previously produced Wild Wild West and Disney’s Enchanted as well as long-running TV series Bones.
According to UPI, Lee said in February that “Dan’s story and character is unlike anything I have developed before, so I wait with intrigue as we begin to reveal more details about the Annihilator franchise and to hear what audiences think as they immerse themselves into his world through the film.”
The film, which reportedly will cost between $100 million and $150 million and be in English with some Mandarin scenes, is the first of several projects that will be funded in part by Chinese state-run National Film Capital as co-production and co-finance partnership with Magic Storm.
Magic Storm Entertainment is Hollywood based film finance organization that’s primary focus is to develop globally appealing Hollywood branded Stan Lee films franchises that have a unique brand and consumer appeal to audiences in China and the rest of the world.
The film’s international release date is set for 2014. Meanwhile, other Marvel’s big screen adaptations include The Avengers 2 will debut in 2015. Sequels for Captain America, Iron Man, and Thor are in the planning phases.