Every superhero has their own strengths. We have heroes whose powers come from external sources ala Iron Man and Thor and then we have heroes that have built skills and expertise over the years, including Black Widow and now, Shang-Chi.
Shang-Chi, Marvel’s latest superhero who will be making his debut in Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings, was born out of the Hollywood kung-fu craze and is an homage to Asian action cinema who have perfected and set the tone for the action genre in Hollywood.
It’s no surprise then that Marvel has set aside an extremely large budget for the movie to hire some of the best action Hong Kong choreographers and stunt team for the movie, including friends of action superstar Jackie Chan, such as Andy Cheng and the late Brad Allen.
“The legends of Hong Kong choreography have been making an impact on Hollywood films for over 20 years. What was fun about this film is, yes, there’s superpowers involved and there’s a lot of big Marvel action but we could also hit the purity of those martial art fights – that bus fight stands out to people, the fight on the side of the skyscraper on bamboo, even before you get to the 10 Rings battles,” shared Kevin Feige in a roundtable interview with Geek Culture.
“That’s really what was fun. Being able to [make] a Marvel movie, and with a very big budget, [and] ask these amazing artists and choreographers, ‘If you could do anything you wanted, what would you do? Here’s a Marvel budget. What is the biggest fight you can do for us?’, and they gave us like five of them, and it was just great.”
The fast-paced action of Shang-Chi has been compared to the likes of Bruce Lee and Jet Li, and had martial arts fans cheering when a teaser, of a bus fight sequence, featured some signature Jacke Chan moves, including a famous jacket-move from Rumble In The Bronx. Whilst the general buzz around Shang-Chi have been overwhelmingly positive, long-time fans know that this isn’t the first martial artist to come out of Marvel, and we’re not talking about the substantial and deadly skills of Black Widow or Hawkeye.
Marvel, or rather, Marvel TV’s first attempt with martial arts was with Netflix’s Iron Fist (2017). The two-season series, which culminated into a Defenders series, saw Game of Thrones alum Finn Jones as Danny Rand, a martial artist who can harness and channel chi, or spiritual energy.
Unfortunately, that series didn’t hit it off and was considered a misfire for both the cast and Marvel when it met with angry fans, especially since Jones had no martial arts background, but was expected to take on the role of skilled fighter, Iron Fist.
When asked what Feige had done with Shang-Chi to ensure that this attempt tops Iron Fist, and show the true Master of Kung-Fu, the 48-year-old producer took a breather before responding, “I can’t speak to anything outside of Marvel Studios, but for us it really was. It came down to the characters,”
“It came down to telling a compelling story with characters you want to watch and you want to root for. What they do, then, becomes the bonus, in this case, it’s that tremendous action. So, even though the advertisements really showcase the action scenes and the action scenes are worthy of being showcased, it is the characters that I think audiences will fall in love with. That’s the most important part in any Marvel movie.”
We know, we know – neither Marvel Studios, Disney nor Feige have officially come out to make a statement on whether past Marvel TV projects, such as Daredevil or Iron Fist, which were touted as being part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) then, are canon and part of the greater MCU, but if you were to read into Feige’s comments, it’s clear that he doesn’t think so even if he wouldn’t come out to acknowledge it.