Destin Daniel Cretton is leaving the world of superheroes and comic books behind for a land of ninjas and manga. The “Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings” director will write a live-action adaptation of “Naruto,” one of the most popular manga series of all time, IndieWire has confirmed.

Created by mangaka Masashi Kishimoto, “Naruto” is set in an unnamed world where ninjas act as the primary warriors and political forces. In the Hidden Leaf Village, main character Naruto Uzumaki is a loudmouthed, hyperactive, and boisterous orphan who dreams of becoming the greatest ninja, or the Hokage. His attempts to grow are complicated by the fact that he unknowingly serves as the host of the Nine-Tailed Fox, a dangerous beast that grants him enormous power but makes him a target for rival ninja clans. The series follows Naruto as he joins a training squad consisting of friends Sasuke and Sakura and lead by the experienced Kakashi, and goes on missions to protect his home and grow into the greatest warrior he can be.

The original manga published its debut chapter in Japanese magazine Shonen Jump on September 1999. It would enjoy a lengthy run in the magazine, eventually concluding in 2014 with its 700th chapter. The series quickly grew in popularity upon its debut and became one of the best-selling manga series of all time, with over 250 million copies sold worldwide. The original manga’s success launched a multimedia franchise that has become a fandom touchstone: there was the equally successful anime series which made its debut in 2002 and ran for 720 episodes, ongoing “next generation” spinoff “Boruto” and its accompanying anime adaptation, 11 feature-length films, over 40 spinoff video games, and far too much merchandise to reasonably count.

In addition to writing and directing, Cretton will also produce the film along with Jeyun Munford through his company Hisako. Avi Arad, Ari Arad, and Emmy Yu will produce for Arad Productions. In a statement, Cretton said that he visited Kishimoto in Japan to discuss the film with the manga artist.

“It was a true honor to meet Kishimoto-san in Tokyo and hear his expansive vision for his creation,” Cretton said. “We are very excited to collaborate and bring ‘Naruto to the big screen.”

“When I heard of Destin’s attachment, it happened to be right after watching a blockbuster action film of his, and I thought he would be the perfect director for ‘Naruto.’ After enjoying his other films and understanding that his forte is in creating solid dramas about people, I became convinced that there is no other director for ‘Naruto,’” Kishimoto said in a statement. “In actually meeting Destin, I also found him to be an open-minded director who was willing to embrace my input, and felt strongly that we would be able to cooperate together in the production process. To put it simply, the live-action ‘Naruto’ is bound to be a film with spectacular action and profound drama. I can’t help but be excited for it.”

Cretton is best known as the director of “Shang-Chi,” a Marvel Cinematic Universe film and the first Marvel Studios film to be lead by an Asian cast and directed by an Asian filmmaker. Before his foray into blockbuster filmmaking, Cretton received acclaim for directing several independent films, including 2012’s “Short Term 12” and 2019’s “Just Mercy.” He also directed several episodes of the Disney+ show “American Born Chinese.”

Last year, Cretton departed the planned Marvel film “Avengers: The Kang Dynasty,” citing scheduling conflicts. However, he still remains involved with the company; he’ll reportedly direct a “Shang-Chi” sequel still in development, and created and directed the Disney+ series “Wonder Man.”

The Hollywood Reporter first reported the news about Cretton filming a “Naruto” movie.

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