After exactly two years without premieres because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Marvel Cinematographic Universe (MCU) returned to theaters betting on the development of its Phase 4. And if Black Widow was the character’s farewell, Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings is the introduction not only of a new hero, but of a whole new side within the universe of superheroes: that of oriental mysticism.
The character itself is a big unknown for most of the public, including comic book readers. Although he was born at the height of martial arts films, between the 1970s and 1980s, the Kung-Fu Master, as he became known around here, never had a major role within Marvel. And as much as you’ve fought alongside Spider-Man, X-Men and even the Avengers, you can be sure that a lot of people go to movie theaters with no idea what they’re going to find.
Shang-Chi will bring martial arts into the MCU (Image: Press Release/Marvel Studios)
And that’s great news for both the public and Marvel itself. Without the shackles of being a folk hero, the studio has more freedom to make changes and adapt Shang-Chi to the story that best fits the rest of the MCU. As for us, it’s the opportunity to enter a movie theater not really knowing what to expect, totally free from the neura of demanding loyalty from your childhood hero.
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For this reason, Marvel Studios has been very restrained in promoting Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings. Despite having already released some trailers and revealed some important plot points — such as the fact that the character is the son of the true Mandarin — the truth is, we have no idea what’s next in terms of history.
And if you’re looking forward to what the Kung-Fu Master is going to bring to the MCU, Canaltech helps you gather all the information released so far so you can assemble this puzzle.
Shang-Chi will be MCU’s first Asian hero (Image: Playback/Marvel Studios)
The main novelty of Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings is the fact that this is the first superhero movie to star an Asian, marking the increase in representation within this segment. And we’re not just limited to the MCU here, as this feat also encompasses DC — which makes the film as historic as Black Panther and Wonder Woman.
Of course, there is a whole commercial reason behind this, as China is a huge market and accounts for a big chunk of the global box office and it makes perfect sense to have a hero geared towards that audience. However, this only shows how important the actor Simu Liu’s achievement is. So much so that, before Shang-Chi, the actor hadn’t done anything of great importance in Hollywood, his most prominent role being a supporting character in the Taken series.
Except that, as was the case with Black Panther, The Legend of the Ten Rings will still have most of its cast made up of professionals of Asian origin — including director Destin Daniel Cretton. He was one of the names that highlighted the importance of this representation as a way to escape from cinema stereotypes about oriental culture.
Shang-Chi will introduce the real Mandarin to the MCU after Iron Man 3’s twist (Image: Playback/Marvel Studios)
The greatest example of this is the villain Wenwu, played by actor Tony Chiu-Wai Leung. The MCU version is a mixture of two distinct characters, Fu Manchu and Mandarin, villains from the Shang-Chi and Iron Man stories who, for a long time, were represented in a very caricatured and racist way. In a recent interview, the director of A Lenda dos Ten Rings highlighted the importance of creating a complex villain and escaping this image of the “yellow danger”, the bigoted cliché that prevailed for years in pop culture when it came to dealing with Asians.
So, expect to see a much more humanized villain in the film, who should still be presented as this criminal leader, but have a more complex relationship that makes him more interesting. And part of that is already present in the fact that he is the real Mandarin, showing that the MCU will continue that little scene we saw right after the release of Iron Man 3, which showed the actor who adopted the nickname getting a call from the real villain.
Another interesting participation is the actress Awkwafina. The name may not be that well known, but she’s been gaining a lot of ground in Hollywood either with voiceovers or acting in films like Eight Women and A Secret and Jumanji: Next Phase, as well as being in the upcoming live-action of The Little Mermaid. Not to mention that she won the Golden Globe for Best Actress for the film A Farewell.
Shang-Chi is another milestone of representation in hero movies (Image: Playback/Marvel Studios)
All this resume goes to say that your character in Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings has everything to be one of the darlings of the public. While Katy isn’t any big-name comic book name, what little the trailers have shown us indicates that she must personify the comic relief that’s so welcome in Marvel movies.
Check out some more confirmed names for Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings:
Shang-Chi (Simu Liu) Katy (Awkwafina) WenWu/Mandarin (Tony Chiu-Wai Leung) Ying Nan (Michelle Yeoh) Abominable (Tim Roth) Wong (Benedict Wong) Blade Fist (Florian Munteanu) Jiang Li (Fala Chen) Jon Jon (Ronny Chieng)
With the premiere of Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings just a short time away, Marvel has brought in just two trailers for the film that don’t show much in terms of the story, focusing much more on the relationship between father and son and a lot on the action we owe meet.
In the first contact we had with the film, for example, we were introduced to who this new hero is and especially his relationship with his father. The entire video is narrated by Mandarin, who details that he let Shang-Chi live his life for ten years while showing scenes from his training — which fits very well with the character’s origins in the comics, who is also coached by his father (in this case, the villain Fu Manchu) to succeed him in the leadership of a criminal organization.
The main highlight of this first trailer is the presentation of the tone of the story, making it clear that the atmosphere will be much more adventurous and with a lot of martial art. Not by chance, many people associated the film with The Tiger and the Dragon and even with Jackie Chan films.
The second trailer brings more details of the story, highlighting with more emphasis the family relationship of Shang-Chi and the Mandarin. There’s a whole lot of talk about how he can’t ignore his origins and his past and we see how the ten rings symbolize a lot this legacy left by the villain for the hero. At the same time, the video shows more of the mystical elements that should be explored, like chi control, and we even see a brief fight between the Abominable and Wong, two cameos that took everyone by surprise.
In addition, we had several small commercials released by Marvel Studios that didn’t bring many unreleased scenes, just deepened a little of everything we’ve seen so far. What draws attention in these smaller contents is the reinforcement of the family clash that should guide the entire script and the role of the ten years in it all.
This becomes clear in the artifact’s transformation: when it is being used by the Mandarin, the energy emanating is blue, while the color linked to Shang-Chi is yellow. It may seem like just a detail, but there’s a very strong symbolic charge behind it that goes through the hero’s acceptance of his father’s cursed legacy and how it shifts from something cold and threatening to something warm and welcoming.
Shang-Chi: What to expect
Given this semiotic analysis of the Ten Rings, what can we expect from Shang-Chi and the Legend of Ten Rings? Like any origin story in this universe, the plot should be very self-contained and be inspired by what the comics offer. Of course, a lot will be adapted and modernized — as said, nobody knows Shang-Chi and this is perfect for working with more freedom, but some elements will certainly be imported from the comics.
The family dispute for the legacy of the Ten Rings will be the main theme of the film (Image: Reproduction/Marvel Stuidos)
This is the case of the hero’s relationship with his father, which will certainly be the central point of the plot. All trailers have already highlighted that the family issue will drive the whole story, with Shang-Chi being trained to be the new Mandarin, but denying that heritage and wanting to tread his own path away from his father’s influence—until he’s forced to face it. you and need to accept this burden, reframe it and bring the Ten Rings to light.
Generally speaking, the expectation is that the film will go more or less along this path. So, we should have some flashback scenes showing Shang-Chi’s training when he was still a child and how he became the Kung-Fu Master that we will meet. At the same time, we will see your going to the United States as a way to deny your past and create a life far from the Mandarin shadow.
The question is why the assassins go after him — including Razor Fist, a class C villain from Marvel. Our bet is that it will be the villain himself who will send them as a way to make Shang-Chi prove his abilities and also return to his arms, almost as a kind of fire test of his powers.
(Image: Disclosure/Marvel Studios)
It is in this process that we must see the hero’s mother being introduced as someone who will pull him close and help him accept his past to conquer his own identity, as well as being responsible for introducing chi control to the protagonist. And from what the trailers point out, she’s very likely to die at the Mandarin’s hands, as there’s a quick fight scene between the two.
From there, we should see Shang-Chi’s entire acceptance journey, which must go through what appears to be one of Marvel’s heavenly cities. By the way, the promotional videos still show a great battle in this mythical field, with the right to the oriental lions taking a beating, implying that this must be the final fight of the film. And this is where we must have the big twist of the story, possibly with the hero’s sister assuming the great villain of everything and questioning the fact that Shang-Chi inherits the rings instead of her, who has always been on the side of the Mandarin. From then on, the two must fight and the protagonist proves his worth to inherit the mystical artifact, giving it new meaning.
The Ten Rings represent much more than a powerful weapon, but the protagonist’s relationship with his origins (Image: Reproduction/Marvel Studios)
As stated, no one quite knows what to expect from the story of Shang-Chi and the Legend of Ten Rings, which leaves us with only speculation to deal with. And considering that Phase 4 is still in its infancy, it’s hard to even imagine how it all connects to the rest of the characters we know.
Shang-Chi: Release Date
Like all Marvel Phase 4 films, Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings also suffered from the COVID-19 pandemic and experienced some delays. The initial forecast was for it to hit theaters in July — that is, we should have seen it throughout — but the closing of theaters around the world forced Disney to change its schedule and, with that, the hero oriental makes its debut on the MCU on September 3, 2021.
The big difference from Black Widow is that the new movie will not be available via streaming on Disney+ via Premier Access. With that, those who want to check out the feature will have to face a movie session like the old days or wait 45 days after the release for it to be available in the Disney+ catalogue.
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