‘Shang-Chi’ Director Destin Cretton to Lead ‘American Born Chinese’ Adaptation on Disney+

Gene Luen Yang’s award-winning 2006 graphic novel American Born Chinese is on its way to streaming television. Disney+ announced on Oct. 4 that it had greenlit an adaptation of the book, with Yang signing on as an executive producer. Meanwhile, Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings director Destin Daniel Cretton will direct. Here’s what we know about American Born Chinese so far.

Destin Daniel Cretton at the Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings UK Gala Screening. Destin Cretton will direct the upcoming American Born Chinese adaptation.
Destin Daniel Cretton | Ian Gavan/Getty Images for Disney

‘American Born Chinese’ explores a battle with a Chinese mythological figure

Yang’s young adult novel follows Jin Wang, a young teen who stands out at school as the only Chinese-American student. However, he soon meets Chin-Kee, a Chinese boy who visits his cousin, Danny, every year. As Jin navigates the ups and downs of high school, he and Chin-Kee encounter Sun Wukong, also known as the Monkey King — a mythological god in a Chinese folk tale.

Yang and American Born Chinese went on to win several awards, including the 2007 Michael L. Printz Award. It also became a New York Times bestseller. Critics have praised Yang’s depiction of racial struggles and finding one’s identity.

In a statement to Deadline, Disney Branded Television president Ayo Davis called the adaptation “fantastically memorable and imaginative.”

“This is a great universal story that moves between worlds and explores the impact of culture, identity, and acceptance through the lens of adolescence,” Davis added.

Destin Cretton says he ‘feels deeply connected’ to the story

The studio did not make any casting decisions for American Born Chinese yet. However, Deadline reported that Bob’s Burgers executive producer Kelvin Yu and his brother, Charles Yu, have signed on to write and executive produce. Additionally, Yang, Melvin Mar, Jake Kasdan, and Asher Goldstein will act as exec producers.

“Gene Luen Yang’s book is a staple in American literature and deeply important to a whole generation of readers,” Kelvin Yu, who will also act as showrunner, said. “Destin and Melvin are storytellers working at the highest level imaginable. It’s all so exciting and so humbling to be a part of.”

Meanwhile, American Born Chinese marks Cretton’s first time in the director’s chair for a TV series (aside from Toyko Vice, which is in post-production). In his own statement to Deadline, he explained what the project meant to him.

“Reading Kelvin’s riveting adaptation of Gene’s incredible novel had me laughing and crying and jumping out of my chair on every page,” he revealed. “I feel deeply connected to the characters in this story and the brilliant team bringing it to life. This show is going to be unlike anything we’ve experienced on TV, and I can’t wait for the world to see what we’re cooking up.”

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