If you haven’t heard of Marvel’s martial artist extraordinaire, Shang-Chi, we don’t blame you. While he enjoyed a period of fame back in the seventies, it was unfortunately short-lived, and he hasn’t gotten much exposure outside the comics. But now that a Shang-Chi movie is in the works for the next phase of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, it seems like our Chinese, hand-to-hand combat-proficient superhero is finally getting a shot in the limelight again.
And for those of you looking for a quick rundown on who exactly is Shang-Chi, well, we have you covered.
Shang-Chi was born out of the martial arts craze in the seventies. Remember all the old school Bruce Lee and Jackie Chan films with the jaw-dropping acrobatics? Yes, that craze.
While Marvel initially wanted the rights to television series, Kung Fu, they didn’t manage to come to an agreement with Warner Bros. and instead got their hands on Sax Rohmer’s villainous mastermind, Fu Manchu — which eventually gave us Shang-Chi, conceived by Marvel as Fu Machu’s prodigal son and complete antithesis. Somehow, his questionable upbringing sequestered away in rural China, has raised him noble and compassionate where his father’s conniving and cruel.
Nevertheless, the fact that Shang-Chi travels the world to help those in need, without seeking recognition, fame or fortune, makes him one of the most unambiguously, selflessly good heroes out there. And yes, we all enjoy a brooding, conflicted, intrinsically flawed protagonist— because, hey, we’re all flawed — but someone who just genuinely wants to help those in need is a nice change too.
Shang-Chi is a superhero who isn’t quite super — in the sense that he hasn’t any mystical powers bestowed upon him by an otherworldly entity, he hasn’t had any genetic modification done on him, nor was he born with a genetic mutation, he hasn’t even the money or genius to craft himself insanely powerful weapons or armour.
His powers — so to speak — come from years and years of combat training and mastering of Chi, which makes him incredibly proficient at fighting with various styles and various weapons, so much so that he’s able to dodge and deflect bullets. Basically, he’s the perfect poster boy for hard work. You can do anything if you try hard enough, even transcend human limits!
In recent works, Shang-Chi is also able to create copies of himself. And if you just thought of Naruto’s shadow clone jutsu, don’t worry, you’re not the only one.
Appearances In And Out Of The Marvel Universe
Aside from his various stints with the Avengers, Shang-Chi’s also served as a mentor for Peter Parker, AKA Spider-Man, after the latter momentarily lost his Spider-sense. To help Peter cope, Shang-Chi developed a special style of fighting which complimented Peter’s spider powers, and that eventually helped Peter overcome Tarantula.
While he’s showed up in the comics from time to time, Shang-Chi really hasn’t had much of a presence outside them. Not in Marvel’s many fighting games, or television series — although he’s managed to wrangle a spot for himself in free-to-play mobile game, Marvel: Future Fight. And there were prior attempts to take him to the silver screen, but evidently, those didn’t come to fruition.
Whatever the case, Shang-Chi’s upcoming foray into Hollywood should make him a household name, so we can probably expect to see more of him after this.