The trailer for Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings just dropped and it’s got us even more geared up and excited for the butt-kicking action that is about to come.
As Marvel’s first-ever all-Asian superhero movie, Shang-Chi himself may be new to some Marvel fans, especially if you didn’t grow up in the seventies, but don’t worry, we don’t blame you if you fail to recognise the Bruce Lee analogue.
But now that the martial arts extraordinaire is getting his own movie, let us give you a rundown of who he is, what his powers and abilities are, how lethal he is, and where he stands if he were to get in a fight with other well known fighters from Marvel Comics, including Captain America, Iron Fist, Taskmaster, Black Widow, Daredevil and Wolverine, and what viewers can look forward to when the movie finally releases.
Shang-Chi was born out of the martial arts craze in the seventies – yes the period of time when everyone and we mean everyone was obsessed with Bruce Lee’s, and subsequently Jackie Chan’s jaw-dropping acrobatics.
Initially, Marvel wanted the rights to the television series, Kung Fu, by Warner Bros. (who we know owns Marvel’s rival, DC Comics). And no surprise there, Warner Bros and Marvel didn’t come to an agreement and Marvel was instead given Sax Rohmer’s villainous mastermind, Fu Manchu. With rights to Fu Manchu, Marvel quickly developed Shang-Chi, Fu Manchu’s prodigal son and complete antithesis.
Although Shang-Chi is an original character by Marvel, many of his supporting characters like Fu Manchu, Sir Denis Nayland Smith, Dr. James Petrie and Fah Lo Suee were Rohmer’s creations. Marvel later lost the comic book rights to Fu Manchu, and Shang-Chi’s association to the villain was later downplayed. Still, his father will remain as villainous.
Shang-Chi was born in the Honan province of China to evil mastermind Fu Manchu and a mother who was genetically selected by his father. He was raised and trained in martial arts from infancy and believed his father to be a benevolent humanitarian. Shang-Chi was later sent on a mission to London to murder, Dr James Petrie, who his father claimed was evil.
It didn’t take long for Shang-Chi to realise who the true villain was and vowed to put an end to his evil schemes, making them both long term enemies. With allies, supporting characters and his love interest, Shang-Chi went on many adventures and missions to thwart his father’s plans for world domination.
Shang-Chi is a superhero who isn’t quite super. He doesn’t have mystical powers, genetic modification or comes from a wealthy family where he can craft himself powerful weapons or armoury.
The humble lad gets his powers – so to speak – from years and years of combat training and mastering of Chi (Mulan flashbacks anyone?). Mastering of the Chi makes Shang-Chi one of the best fighters to ever exist. The boy is the poster boy for hard work and is living, breathing proof that you can do anything if you try hard enough. 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.
In The Comics
The martial artist first appeared in Special Marvel Edition #15 and again in issue #16 and #17. The books, retitled to The Hands of Shang-Chi: Master of Kung Fu, became very popular and survived until issue #125. Shang-Chi made several crossovers with other Marvel martial artists including Iron Fist, White Tiger and the Daughters of the Dragon. Shang-Chi also appeared regularly in The Deadly Hands of Kung Fu.
He’s also had various stints with the Avengers – even serving as Peter Parker/Spider-Man’s mentor at one point. Whilst 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.
Although spun out of licensed properties, Shang-Chi is a Marvel-owned character and has been firmly established as a part of the Marvel Universe. Now, Shang-Chi is finally making a comeback with his own solo movie.
As you would have seen, Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings features a predominantly all-Asian cast with Simu Liu as the titular hero himself. The actor won the role of Marvel’s first Asian superhero over the likes of Mortal Kombat’s Lewis Tan and plenty others, by sending Marvel a little hint on Twitter.
Of course, combined with Liu’s charisma, past acting credits – most notably Kim’s Convenience – and his passion for sports, martial arts, Liu is more than suitable to bring the martial arts master to the big screens.
Ever since getting the role, Liu has been actively posting pictures of himself training on Instagram, though the actor often shares his training in a comedic approach.
“Back to prep with me and my two body doubles. Our secret workout tips include high intensity reps of table tennis with a superset of starcraft 2 and a super smash brothers cool down. heard it here first fam ,” wrote Liu in his caption.
Apart from joking about his muscular body being made up of Share Tea, Coco and Chatime, the 31 actor is seen mainly lifting weights and working out his abdominal muscles. Of course, who could forget the sizzle reel Liu posted of him fighting friends Vidan Tran and Zac Wang.
Whilst full synopsis of the Marvel film isn’t out yet, the movie will see Shang-Chi confront the past he thought he left behind when he’s drawn into the web of the mysterious Ten Rings organisation. Following the footsteps of Black Panther, Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings is the first all-Asian Marvel superhero movie.
With the first official trailer out, fans can keep their eyes peeled for more trailers, behind the scenes and first look images as well as social media posts by the stars themselves as we get closer to the release date.
“I never saw myself as the hero of my own story growing up. I struggled to find any Asian characters onscreen, and there were fewer still that made me feel truly proud of my heritage. It’s absolutely insane to think that in just over four months, we will have a Marvel Studios movie featuring an almost ENTIRELY Asian cast, each full of rich nuance and dimensionality,” wrote Liu in an Instagram post when the official poster was released.
“Shang-Chi is more than just a movie – it is a celebration of our culture and a rallying cry for the forgotten, the unseen and the overlooked. It is a reminder to take up space, to stand tall, and to be unapologetically ourselves.”
Joining Liu is Awkwafina as Katy (Shang-Chi’s friend), Hong Kong superstars Tony Leung as Wenwu/The Mandarin (a replacement of Fu Manchu), Fala Chen as Jiang Li, Meng’er Zhang as Shang-Chi’s estranged sister, Xialang, Florian Munteanu as Razor Fist, Ronny Chieng as Jon Jon, Michelle Yeoh as Jiang Nan and Dallas Liu in an undisclosed role.
Wait, The Mandarin? As in Ben Kingsley in Iron Man 3? Yes and no. The Mandarin is a foe of Tony Stark, but Marvel has already revealed that Ben Kingsley’s Iron Man 3 character is really drunk actor, Trevor Slattery, who was hired to play The Mandarin by that movie’s villain, Aldrich Killian. The Ten Rings organisation was also teased in the original Iron Man, but now we’re finally meeting the real deal in the upcoming movie.
Once a short-lived legend, here’s to hoping Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings will make the hero into a household name.
Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings wrapped up filming in October 2020 and was delayed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Currently, the movie is slated to release on 3 September 2021.