The Marvel Cinematic Universe’s fourth chapter is an eclectic combination of supporting characters who are leading their own television shows. Furthermore, some genuinely unexpected characters will be cast in their own films. Even though Guardians of the Galaxy was able to prove the studio can make stars out of any weird Marvel hero, many are still scratching their heads about the upcoming Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings.
The teaser trailer finally aired recently. That’s partly why many of the Marvel fans are excited. However, if you need further clarification, let’s take a dive at everything we know about the movie to suss out why Shang-Chi’s debut to the MCU is a highly anticipated one.
Master Of Kung Fu
Written by artist Jim Starlin and writer Steve Englehart in 1972, the role was part of a wave of martial arts giants. Furthermore, both of the Big Two comic book publishers launched as they themselves came to know of the martial arts films playing in New York cinemas at the time. However, in Shang-Chi’s case, the story is more convoluted, as Marvel was hoping to publish a series based on the famous Kung Fu series. That show, owned by what was then called Warner Communications, was allegedly centered around a concept from legendary martial arts movie hero Bruce Lee.
However, the origin of Kung Fu, which had David Carradine play the role of a half-Chinese monk walking the Old West, is a subject of heated debate. One thing seems evident, though: Lee was thought for the lead role. However, he got rejected because the television networks thought viewers would never like to have an Asian actor as the star.
Not able to secure the deal, Marvel made some changes and acquired the rights to publish Sax Rohmer’s pulp novel villain Fu Manchu. Furthermore, they had Starlin and Englehart as their new main characters. In it, Shang-Chi was to play the protagonist showing his struggle with the villain. Furthermore, the duo later turned out to be father and son.
Premiering in 1973’s Special Marvel Edition #12, he would have the complete hold of the title when it was relaunched as The Hands of Shang-Chi: Master of Kung Fu. Apart from Shang-Chi, much of the book’s cast consisted of established characters. All of them were from Rohmer’s novels. The series played until issue #15 in 1983. Furthermore, he made sure that he continued to appear in one-shots, crossovers, team-up books like Agents of Atlas, and various other miniseries across the years. A special “Issue #16” of the original series was also aired in 2017.
Sometime after 1997, though, Marvel’s license to use Fu Manchu expired. As a character that was fully owned by Marvel, Shang-Chi’s origins began to deteriorate. Members of his family were re-imagined and renamed while other Rohmer characters simply got erased from the Marvel Universe.
Nevertheless, there are two important lessons from Shang-Chi’s comic book past. They are that he is a proven success, and his humble abodes were always ripe for a feature film. He is born to work in martial arts films, after all.
Also, keep his dad in mind. That’s going to come in pictures later.
A Tough Road To A Beautiful Future
Shang-Chi’s progress in films reaches back as far as the 1980s. This was when Stan Lee reached out to Bruce Lee’s wife, Linda Lee Cadwell, and son, Brandon Lee. This was about the latter potentially acting in a Shang-Chi Tv Show or film. Unfortunately, the younger Lee’s life was cut short on the premiere of The Crow in 1993.
Furthermore, in 2001, Blade director Steven Norrington was approached to direct The Hands of Shang-Chi. However, he was replaced by martial legends Yuen Woo-ping. This happened when the project moved to Dreamworks later in 2007. A year later, the rights were restored back to Marvel Entertainment. These rights were now held in reserve for the newly formed Marvel Studios. In 2009, it was listed among 10 potential movies the studio would direct for Paramount.
Then the Infinity Saga happened. It caused delays to films like Shang-Chi and Ant-Man far beyond the initial timeline.
In 2018, Marvel Studios had to fast-track the endeavor because it wanted to cast an Asian lead. It was after the success of both Crazy Rich Asians and Black Panther. David Callaham (The Expendables, Wonder Woman 1984) hurriedly signed on to publish the feature. What’s more, even Destin Daniel Cretton (Short Term 12, Just Mercy) emerged as a popular director in March of 2019. Throughout this phase of growth, Marvel kept promoting the message that it intended for Shang-Chi to play in a similar fashion to Black Panther. They wanted an Asian viewpoint of the Marvel superhero who will be modernizing some of the more stereotypical elements of the character’s 1980s run. Other major crews behind the camera include production designer Sue Chan (Colossal), director of Bill Pope (The Matrix, Spider-Man 2), and editor Harry Yoon (Minari).
The Cast And Story Of Shang-Chi
Simu Liu (Kim’s Convenience) will make his Marvel entry as Shang-Chi. Furthermore, from the teaser, we come to know that he is the son of Wenwu (Tony Leung). He is a man who has given his child 10 years to “enjoy his life” in San Francisco. Among his close buddies are Katy (Awkwafina). She is a hotel porter unaware of his powers or life with Wenwu. The other one is Jon Jon (Ronny Chieng). Of course, from the bus attack which was briefly depicted in the preview, they will come to know that Shang-Chi is a super skilled martial artist. They will also eventually come to know that he is the scion of the Ten Rings organization.
The group will go on a long trip as Wenwu tries to bring his son back. Also, according to some gossips, the “Ten Rings” of the title may be referring to the alien artifacts Wenwu uses to maintain his control over the Ten Rings group known to people like Nick Fury (Samuel P. Jackson).
Other movie casts include Fala Chen as Jiang Li, Michelle Yeoh as Jiang Nan from Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 — and Meng’er Zhang as Shang-Chi’s sister Xiang. Dallas Liu will also appear in an unrevealed role.
The MCU Connections
Of course, one of the most amazing elements of Shang-Chi is the latest change to his famous parentage. Instead of Fu Manchu, a character in “yellow peril” stereotypes, Wenwu takes his hints from Marvel Comics villain in the Mandarin. He is also a character that is long-teased in the Iron Man film series.
While such a revelation would normally be considered a spoiler, Marvel was amazingly open about Leung playing The Mandarin when he was first featured for the film in 2018. Our guess here, evidenced by the teaser: the movie is less about Shang-Chi coming to know the truth about his father than it is him finally coming to grips with what his father and the Ten Rings really mean for the world at large and for him.
If you try to recall, the Ten Rings were featured in the first Iron Man. In it, they were the group who was responsible for Tony Stark’s arrest in the desert. He eventually constructed the Mark I Iron Man suit and escaped. Much of the latter part of the film saw Tony dismantling their workings in the Middle East. They would also assist Ivan Vanko (Mickey Rourke) in Iron Man 2.