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Summary

  • The director of Marvel’s Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings has been tapped for the live-action Naruto movie, which is a promising choice.
  • Characters are key: Naruto’s struggle and determination are central to story, which lines up well with Cretton’s work on Shang-Chi and other emotionally resonant stories.
  • Cretton’s experience with worldbuilding will also shape the live-action adaptation’s success, something he’s already shown to be adept with from his time at Marvel.



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The live-action Naruto movie has found its writer and director in Destin Daniel Cretton three years after his $432 million hit for the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and that hit proves he’s the right person for the job. He may have recently exited Avengers: The Kang Dynasty, but Cretton now faces the dynasty of the bestselling manga, first serialized in 1999 in Japan’s Weekly Shonen Jump and currently spanning multiple anime seasons, movies, spinoffs, and more. It’s an Avengers-level task to properly adapt the beloved series—one his MCU pandemic blockbuster shows he’s ready for.


From the mind and ink pens of Masashi Kishimoto, Naruto tells the coming-of-age story of Naruto Uzumaki, a mischievous orphan ninja shunned by his village for the nine-tailed demon unknowingly sealed inside him. But nothing can stand in the way of Naruto’s dream to become Hokage, leader of the village—if he can learn to be a true ninja. The endearing world of ninjas, chakra, friendship, and an impossibly determined boy is in good hands.

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A live-action movie adapting the manga Naruto is in development, with a Marvel Cinematic Universe alumnus tapped to write and direct the project.


Shang-Chi Proved Destin Daniel Cretton Can Make A Great Naruto Movie

Shang-Chi spinning the Ten Rings in Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings


Lionsgate has brought on Destin Daniel Cretton, best known for Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings (2021). The film has been praised for its entertaining spectacle and fight choreography, most notably the action sequence involving a public bus. Shang-Chi also spares no expense in bringing the power of chi, reminiscent of chakra in Naruto, and the Ten Rings to explosive life. The advantages the animated medium affords can’t be denied, but there’s no doubt that Cretton can bring some incredible visuals necessary to make live-action Naruto, also a martial arts fantasy film.

More importantly, Cretton created a Marvel stand-out in Shang-Chi rooted in themes of identity. The film not only explores Asian heritage, but also creates a familial and moral battleground for its superhero. While Naruto grew up without a family, he must rise against all odds to stand for what is right. If there is one overarching theme of Naruto, it is to never give up. Cretton shows in Shang-Chi, and earlier films like Short Term 12 and Just Mercy, that he knows the importance of anchoring every plot point to the story’s emotional core.


What Shang-Chi Reveals About How Destin Daniel Cretton Will Approach Naruto

Shang Chi Katy and Xialing with Ying Nan in Ta Lo Shang Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings

If Shang-Chi is any indication, Cretton’s approach to the Naruto live-action movie will not only deliver on emotion and martial arts choreography, but also on worldbuilding. The movie must bring viewers into the Hidden Leaf Village, Naruto’s initially unwelcoming home, among other parts of its vast world. Luckily, Cretton has experience creating a hidden village: Ta Lo in Shang-Chi. Shang-Chi, his sister Xialing, and his best friend Katy travel to the village (hidden by bamboo instead of leaves) and find a dimension inspired by Chinese mythology. A magical creature there is a kinder version of the nine-tailed fox.


Cretton’s approach to characters reveals he builds them on their struggles and not their fighting abilities. Like Naruto, Shang-Chi doesn’t fully know who he is; he must confront his past, learn how to use powers, and face secrets. Cretton has said that he is “drawn to stories about people who are forgotten, or on the outside, or looked down on by society.” That describes young Naruto pretty well. About Shang-Chi, Cretton said, “…I just really try to follow my instincts and work on projects that I find a real personal connection to and personal fulfillment exploring.” (via Den of Geek)

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8 Challenges The Live-Action Naruto Movie Faces Adapting The Anime

A live-action Naruto appears to be happening, but it will face some significant challenges to adapting the manga and anime for the big screen.


Naruto is a story that millions around the world have found a personal connection to. The success of One Piece (2023) and the anime-influenced Avatar: The Last Airbender (2024) adaptations are signs that anime can translate to live-action. But one can’t help recalling the failures of Dragon Ball: Evolution (2009) and Death Note (2017), too. It’ll also be difficult to condense the sprawling story into the format of one movie. Cretton’s talents aside, one other reassuring update is the creative involvement of Kishimoto. With the mangaka by Cretton’s side, things are looking up for the live-action Naruto movie.

Sources: The Hollywood Reporter, PLNU’s The Viewpoint, Den of Geek



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