Kung Fu Panda 4: The Five are Gone, and the People are Furious


On a calm December day, the masses were blessed with the gift of the first Kung Fu Panda 4 trailer. While most had not even known about the film’s existence, the gleeful surprise would be a chance to see our favorite characters once more: a lovable panda, a wise master, a cunning villain, but mostly a stern, ferocious, oddly attractive tiger voiced by Angelina Jolie.


Enraptured by anticipation, the masses pressed play on the sizzling hot teaser. Their beaming smiles soon dropped in horror upon a harrowing absence. Their slacked, quivering lips could barely muster a whisper:  “Where … is … Tigress?”


Their beloved Tigress, a symbol of strength and a rare exemption from the hyper-feminized standard of female character designs had been replaced with Zootopia reject Zhen, voiced by Awkwafina. Yes, we traded Angelina Jolie for Awkwafina. Tigress, the leader of the Furious Five, had become a fan favorite whose presence was almost as anticipated as Po’s himself. Tigress is the leader of the Five, who are also not featured in the trailer. Each member of the Five - Mantis, Crane, Monkey, Viper, and Tigress - is an animal representative of different styles of Kung Fu. Tigress personifies the Tiger Style, emphasizing raw power and devastating blows. While subversions span across all regions of China, all fundamentally incorporate striking and wrestling, where the fighter must utilize brute strength. Thus, she is universally regarded as the strongest of the Five, and her absence is a devastating blow to the cast’s prowess.


Since the film’s proliferation into a franchise of multiple films, TV series, and short specials, Tigress has become a popular character for both writers and fans to explore. Her hard exterior invites mystery and intrigue with two specials investigating her origins. Secrets of the Furious Five (2010) and Secrets of the Scroll (2016) reveal her tragic backstory as an orphan and the development of the distinctive Tiger Style, respectively. Since the core audience of the first film has grown up, a subversive take has arisen where fans argue that Tigress deserved to be the Dragon Warrior instead of Po, citing her decades of extensive training and frustration with the real-world trope of an unqualified male beating out an overqualified female.


Adding to the injustice, Tigress’ absence incited a series of intense withdrawals from the viewers. “We want Mother Tigress!” the masses chanted, congregating in swarms to protest this abomination. Kung Fu Panda 4 opens this week, and reception to this drastic change is uncertain. While Tigress is missing, the film boasts other fan-favorite names, such as Bryan Cranston as Li Shan and Ian McShane as Tai Lung. However, if the reaction to this trailer is any indication, people may prefer the stripes over the stars.


Writer: Phaedra Mladenovic

Artist: Newt Wilder