Marvel star and USC alumni Desmond Chiam on Asian expectations & why Captain America is his favorite superhero

He watched Captain America tapes as a child until they wore out

Desmond Chiam on set of “The Falcon and the Winter Soldier”. (Photo courtesy of Desmond Chiam)

Singapore—Yes, the country can take pride in our very own Marvel star, with Desmond Chiam’s recurring role in its latest series, The Falcon and the Winter Soldier.

Chiam, 33, who is of Singaporean descent but grew up in Australia, plays Dovich. And while he is not, strictly speaking, a superhero, he does have super-soldier abilities on the show. 

Growing up, the actor spent a third of each year in Singapore, where his father worked. And, interestingly, his first career was in law after he graduated from the University of Melbourne. 

And because the law failed to satisfy him, he went on to more creative fields such as breakdancing and then acting. Eventually, he went on to earn a master’s degree in screenwriting from the University of Southern California. 

The actor recently took to social media to express how thrilled he is at being part of the Marvel family. On his Twitter account as well as on the popular Subtle Asian Traits Facebook page, he noted how far he’s come and how much the role in “The Falcon and the Winter Soldier” means to him.

Posing with Captain America’s shield and calling himself “some random dude”, he explained why.

He wrote that he had been hesitant to post at all, because of “Years of keep-your-head-down culture. Years of being told never to be happy with second place, because it’s just a fancy way of saying you lost. Years of subscription to the idea that only when you’re the best are you even worthy of being seen.”

He also recognised the achievements of other Asian artists this year, with the film Minari winning big in last month’s Golden Globe awards, and Chinese Canadian actor Simu Liu slated to become the first-ever Asian lead in a Marvel movie for the upcoming “Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings”.

Compared to these highlights, his holding Captain America’s shield may not seem a lot, but Mr Chiam wrote “here I am attaining a bit of a childhood dream” because “Captain America was my favourite character growing up”.

As a child, he had got old VHS tapes of the superhero cartoon, both of which he watched “until they wore out.”

“In a really simple breakdown, his status as my fave makes sense. There were a lot of demands for excellence placed on me, both mentally and physically, growing up. What better idol than a guy whose power is being peak human? The best a human can be. If he could do it, I could do it.”

And, after he lost his best friend in an accident, the actor “turned back to early childhood crutches”.

He added, “Steve Rogers’ mate died and he became a superhero. I gotta stress – this is a terrible way to deal with trauma, so please – if you need help, seek help. I didn’t, but Cap as a totemic force kept me on the straight and narrow. At the very base level, he kept me functional. And from there I rebuilt and got my mind and body right.”

Chiam went on to talk about the difficulties of making it in Hollywood, and added that as he took the photo of himself holding Captain America’s shield, everything came flooding back.

This was when the prop man, also an Asian, and who seemed to understand the actor’s emotional state, gave him a paint fleck that had fallen off of the shield used in the first Captain America film.

“Tells me to put it in my phone case. ‘Now you got some OG Vibranium, dude.’

Straight up, tears,” the actor wrote.

At the end of his post, he wrote that Captain America means so much to him because of “his place as a human amongst literal gods.”

“For a guy who would be solidly below second on any tier list, he does all right. And I think that’s a message that means a lot to me, personally – I’m human, yeah, I’ve failed and lost and f*cked up a lot, either by standard metrics or the crazy Asian ones our parents pass down to us – but hey. It’s fine.

“I can do this all day.”


By Anna Maria Romero

>Read the original story on The Independent News & Media website.

>Read additional My USC stories here.