The next couple of years for Disney and Marvel are extremely busy as they have several projects lined up for the MCU both for their movie and television formats. We have just gotten a glimpse of what the MCU has in store for fans but 2021 and up next is a movie that sets to introduce a new character — Shang Chi. For most people, especially those who do not follow the comic book world religiously, there may be little knowledge as to who this character is and the rich world that Shang Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings would offer. We’ve got you covered, as we have prepared a full-length guide to the Marvel character and film, Shang Chi.
Who is Shang Chi?
The story of Shang Chi was introduced into the comic book world during the spike in production and interest in kung fu films and stories back in the ‘70s. The history of Shang Chi’s creation was mostly inspired by novelist Sax Rohmer’s licensed property as they developed him to become the unknown son of a fictional villain called Fu Manchu (more on him later). Eventually, Marvel took full ownership of the character and tweaked some details to avoid any licensing issues. Shang Chi made his debut in the comics in 1973 with the Special Marvel Edition #15 and eventually starred in his own solo title in 1983.
Shang Chi: Character Origins
In the comic books, Shang was raised to become a deadly assassin by his father, the immortal crime lord and sorcerer Fu Manchu. Eventually, Shang-Chi became aware of his father’s evil nature and in an act of disobedience, fled from his life as a ruthless killer. Shang then began a quest to take down his father’s criminal empire and allied himself with his father’s archenemy, Denis Nayland Smith, and the MI-6. This sparked a back and forth brawl between father and son with the former even sending out assassins to kill Shang. Beyond this deep-seated rivalry within the family, Shang was led to travel the world and got several opportunities to train in different martial arts. In the various versions and storylines in the comic books, Shang was able to join several notable superhero teams such as The Marvel Knights, The Protectors and even became part of the Avengers.
In the film, however, Marvel executives have made clear-cut changes to the origins of Shang Chi starting off with the replacement of Fu Manchu. Due to the issue regarding licensing and even some racial controversies that have been associated with the character, one of the biggest changes in the upcoming film will be the name and origin of Shang Chi’s father. Based on the trailer, however, it seems that the crucial elements that revolve around the father-son rivalry would still be kept intact for the movie.
Shang Chi: Powers and Abilities
Shang-Chi is proficient in numerous martial arts styles — both in unarmed and weaponry-based wushu fighting techniques. He has a mastery of using weapons such as the gùn, nunchaku, and jian. Shang is known as one of the greatest martial artists on Earth as he was trained since birth. His skills are exhibited several times throughout the comic books as he is able to defeat highly skilled opponents and even a couple of superhuman beings from time to time. Being a character that is heavily rooted and inspired by Asian cultures and beliefs, Shang is able to tap into his chi which allows for greater force and almost inhuman-like powers to exude out of him.
In the trailer for the MCU film, there are slight nods to superhuman-like powers and cosmic energies. These elements are not really found in the comic books but rather showcases the intertwining of different comic book plots for the creation of this movie. Those cosmic-like energies actually come from the ten rings themselves — a powerful tool in the film’s main villain’s arsenal.
One of the reasons that make Shang Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings even more exciting for fans of the comics and of the MCU revolves around the central villain in the story. The Mandarin and the mysterious organization referred to as the Ten Rings have been teased throughout the MCU since Iron Man back in 2008. Since then, slight nods and references to the character have been made in films such as Iron Man 3 and Ant-Man. In the comic books, The Mandarin is portrayed as a scientist who often butts heads with his arch-nemesis, Tony Stark.
For Shang Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings, The Mandarin is also known as Wenwu, the father of Shang Chi, and is played by Tony Leung.
The Ten Rings
As mentioned the Organization referred to as the Ten Rings have been shown all throughout the different properties from the MCU as early as its Phase One films. We will finally get to see more from this mysterious group in Shang Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings as well as the man behind this organization — The Mandarin.
The Ten Rings organization however has all been an allusion to the Mandarin’s rings. In the comics, the Mandarin stumbles upon a wrecked alien spaceship along with its passenger, Axonn-Karr. The Mandarin, being completely fixated with the ten cylinders and alien technology within the ship, kills Axonn-Karr and wields the cylinders into ten powerful rings. Each ring is able to exhibit a specific technological power. Some of the rings include the Remaker, worn on the right thumb, which allows the Mandarin to manipulate the atomic and molecular structures of matter. Another is The Liar ring, worn on the left ring finger, which allows him to mentally manipulate the thoughts and actions of others.
When the Mandarin first wore all ten rings together, the spirits within them managed to reach out to his mind and influence his thoughts which coerced him to resurrect such beings. It will be interesting how the film would portray the exact origins of the ten rings and if every power will be showcased in the movie. The introduction of such tools may open the door for more storylines and may even be the next version of the infinity stones.
Shang Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings Characters
The introduction of a new hero means that there will also be several characters that will be introduced throughout the film. Here are some that will appear in the movie and what we need to know about them.
Awkwafina is an actress known for her comedic roles and charm which she most definitely will bring in Shang Chi. She plays the role of Katy, a hotel valet and one of Shang-Chi’s closest friends. Katy is unaware of Shang’s past and is thrown into the deep end of violence and Asian mythology as she journeys with Shang to fight against various types of evil.
Razor Fist will be a minor villain in the upcoming Shang Chi movie as he is sent by The Mandarin to take out Shang. Razor Fist is a skilled martial artist and mercenary with steel blades for hands. He will be portrayed by Florian “Big Nasty” Munteanu, a heavyweight boxer turned actor who played the role of Ivan Drago in Creed II.
In the comics, the Death-Dealer’s real name is Li Ching-Lin who is an MI-6 agent known for his extremely brutal methods. Li was also working as a double agent for the criminal mastermind Fu Manchu, Shang-Chi’s father. Eventually, the truth regarding his allegiances was discovered by Shang and forced Li to flee to London where Fu Machu would give him the name Death-Dealer alongside a masked costume and weapons that were to be used to eliminate Shang. The Death-Dealer will be played by stuntman Andy Le.
Other Notable Characters
Shang Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings boasts a huge cast with the majority set to represent a rich Asian-American culture and experience. Some of these actors include Michelle Yeoh who plays Shang Chi’s aunt Jiang Nan, Meng’er Zhang who plays Shang’s estranged sister Xialing, Fala Chen who plays Wenwu’s wife, and Shang and Xialing’s mother, Jiang Nan.
There will also be some characters from other Marvel properties that will make their return in this movie, including Benedict Wong as Wong from Doctor Strange, Ben Kingsley as Trevor Slattery from Iron Man 3, and Tim Roth as the Abomination from The Incredible Hulk.
The sheer extensive nature of our guide proves that Shang Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings is a totally different origin story than what the MCU has given us so far. We can speculate and refer back to the comic books but as we can see, Marvel Studio executives and producers have created a detailed world and story that is far from the source material. Furthermore, it is a film that showcases Asian characters and culture and we hope that it gets the same treatment as Black Panther which continues to stand as more than just a superhero movie but also as a cultural statement.
All we can really do now is wait for the release of Shang Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings which will drop in theaters in the United States on September 3. Disney + will also release the film 45 days after the theatrical release, so get your VPNs ready and expect to get your hands on Shang Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings sometime in October.
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