Superhero films have been dominating the box office for approximately two decades now. They became an unstoppable juggernaut with the formation of the MCU. So it is not all that shocking to see independent filmmakers strike out and create original heroes. Sometimes this is just a blatant cash grab. Other times it is a more noble intent that brought a story to life; such as inclusivity and diversity. In the case of the short Ling, it is the latter.
Written by Marie Iida and Dennis A. Liu, with Liu also directing, Ling follows Ling (Angeline Jara), a self-conscious Asian-American girl with a birthmark on her face. She is bullied by some of her classmates and feels practically invisible at parties. But then, one day a blue, magical, 2-D animated, three-legged fox named Kitsy (Randall Park) appears in her washing machine.
“… a blue, magical, 2-D animated, three-legged fox named Kitsy appears in her washing machine.”
The magical familiar tells Ling of the extraordinary abilities she possesses. See, Ling is a “which girl.” This means she can transform into any person she wants to be. Ling uses these skills to hide in plain sight as she tracks the villainous magic welders that want to destroy her and the world.
At only three and a half minutes long, Ling feels more like an extended pitch trailer than a short film unto itself. That is a good and bad thing. The first half rushes through her school life and her meeting of Kitsy. How the magical being found her is never explained and who she’s fighting is left equally obfuscated.