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The Foray of Korean Artistes into the Marvel Cinematic Universe

in K-Drama Insights

Since the start of the Marvel Cinematic Universe with the first Iron Man movie in 2008, the franchise has steadily involved its share of Asian actors and actresses in the MCU casting.

Some of the Asian cast include the dependable Wong (acted by Benedict Wong) in Doctor Strange, Minn-Erva (by Genma Chan) in Captain Marvel, Sersi (also Genma Chan) in The Eternals, the up-and-coming Shang-Chi (Liu Simu) and The Mandarin/Wenwu (Tony Leung) in Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings.

We are also beginning to see more South Korean artistes entering the mix of MCU superheroes. Here are the first three South Korean actors and actresses who have blazed the trail into the MCU franchise!

A model and actress by profession, Claudia Kim (born 1985), also known as Kim Soo-hyun in South Korea, appeared in the role of Doctor Helen Cho in Avengers: Age of Ultron released on 23 April 2015.

Claudia Kim as Helen Cho in Avengers: Age of Ultron

A world-famous geneticist and head of the U-GIN Research Group, Helen Cho has remarkable expertise in the field of cell biology and invented the Regeneration Cradle, a advanced machine that is capable of regenerating skin tissue. She used the Regeneration Cradle to help treat Clint Barton and generate a new body for Ultron which ultimately became the body of Vision.

Her level of intelligence was on par with fellow scientist-engineers like Tony Stark, Bruce Banner and Shuri of Wakanda. In the comic, she was the mother of a future superhero, Amadeus Cho aka Brawn.

Ma Dong-seok as Gilgamesh in The Eternals

One of the most celebrated South Korean actors, Ma Dong-seok (born 1971), also known as Don Lee, is well-known for playing the role of a tough guy. He reprises the "tough guy" role as Gilgamesh in the Enternals, as part of the star-studded main cast that included Angelina Jolie, Salma Hayek, Richard Madden, Kumail Nanjiani, Lauren Ridloff, Brian Tyree Henry, Lia McHugh, and Gemma Chan.

Ma Dong-seok aka Don Lee at D23 Expo

The Eternals are a race of near-immortal beings whose mission is to protect Earth humanity from the Deviants. They do not die due to old age or illness as a result of their genetic design, although they can be killed in physical battles.

The Super Strong Gilgamesh by Ma Dong-seok

Fittingly, Ma Dong-seok's character, Gilgamesh, is the strongest and kindest member of the Eternals, accentuated by his physical bulk and thickened armor. According to the costume designers for the Eternals, the armor costume Ma Dong-seok has to put on for Gilgamesh is the thickest, specially to emphasize his strength. In fact, Gilgamesh's powers, strength and stamina are said to rival those of Thor and Hercules. Watch out for his robust performance when the Eternals hit the cinemas on November 5, 2021.

Park Seo-joon in The Marvels

A highly sought-after male lead of Korean movies and drama shows, Park Seo-joon (born 1988) rose to fame from a series of highly-rated television dramas such as Hwarang: The Poet Warrior Youth, What's Wrong with Secretary Kim, Fight For My Way and Itaewon Class.

Park Seo Joon

Park Seo-joon will be making his Hollywood debut with the 2022 MCU movie The Marvels, alongside Brie Larson (Captain Marvel), Samuel L. Jackson (Nick Fury), Iman Vellani (Ms. Marvel), Teyonah Parris (Monica Rambeau) and Zawe Ashton.

While his role has yet to be officially announced, it was speculated that he could be playing the MCU version of Amadeus Cho, a character in the comic who is a Korean-American teenage hero (also known as Brawn) and whose mother is Helen Cho, a role coincidentally played by fellow South Korean Claudia Kim.

Watch this space!

As Hollywood and MCU films continue to feature diversified casts, we could potentially expect more South Korean artistes to be included in future characters of the MCU. Watch out for this space as we will continue to add to this list!

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Against the backdrop of super-naturals and a world of impending doom due to Deviants and Celestials in the Eternals, we will also like to recommend our slate of other dystopian Korean or Korean-directed films. Check out our post on Silent Sea and Korean Shows That Paint a Dystopian Earth.