Everything To Know About Shang-Chi, The MCU’s First Asian Superhero

The first teaser trailer for “Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings” dropped last Monday — and boy, there is plenty to talk about. The 2-minute trailer reveals Shang-Chi’s past and present; growing up as a martial arts apprentice under the iron rule of his father, and now working at a hotel valet facing the end of his last 10 years of freedom.

Chinese-Canadian actor Simu Liu (of “Kim’s Convenience” fame) plays the titular character, making history as the first Asian lead in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. His supporting cast includes some familiar names, like Tony Leung as Wenwu (The Mandarin), Michelle Yeoh as Jiang Nan, Awkwafina as Katy, Ronny Chieng as Jon Jon, and Meng’er Zhang as Xialing.

But who is Shang-Chi, really? Didn’t The Mandarin already appear in another movie? And most importantly, what are the Ten Rings? We have all the answers right here.

Shang-Chi is a martial arts and weapons specialist

Shang-Chi is one of the rare heroes in the Marvel universe to not have superpowers, although his inhuman strength and ability to withstand large forces may very well be considered superhuman. His abilities come solely from his training from a young age, leading him to become highly skilled in multiple unarmed and weapon-based fighting styles, including the use of nunchucks, shurikens, and traditional Chinese swords and staffs.

He also practices controlling his chi (qi) — an internal energy or vital force — which allows him to heighten his reflexes and master his emotions in the heat of the battle. This manifests in the ability to catch bullets or dodge gunfire, and in the case of the teaser trailer, avoid being splashed by water that’s coming out of a stone wall.

All of these abilities culminate in the ability to go toe-to-toe with several highly-skilled enemies, including superhumans, and defeat them simultaneously. One of his most known opponents from the comics is Iron Fist, who is largely considered his equal. However, official Marvel power levels proves that Shang-Chi is even stronger than Iron Fist.

Shang-Chi’s father is The Mandarin, or at least, in the movie

Shang-Chi has somewhat of a complicated past when it comes to his father, despite his character arc being majorly focused on their relationship. In the comics, his father is a criminal mastermind named Fu Manchu who raises him to become an assassin. He remains unaware of his father’s criminal activities until he meets a British secret agent who reveals the truth, thus setting Shang-Chi on the warpath against his father and his evil actions.

In the movie, his father (Tony Leung) looks to be a composite character of both Fu Manchu and The Mandarin, a villain you may recognise from the Iron Man movies. The real Mandarin (unlike the fake one from Iron Man 3) is a genius scientist and skilled martial artist who draws energy from, you guessed it, ten rings which he crafted from a crashed alien space ship. Each of the ten rings have different powers and need to be worn on specific fingers.

Based on interviews with the movie’s director Destin Daniel Cretton, we can expect a very different take on The Mandarin a.k.a. Wenwu. This comes in response to the problematic and stereotypical portrayals of the characters in the past, leading them to explore “a more complex and layered take on the character” in the movie.

The Ten Rings are incredibly specific (and possibly sentient?)

Much like the Infinity gauntlet, each of the ten rings commands a different power that helps the wearer in combat. Although many have speculated that the gauntlets in the image are part of the Ten Rings, it’s unlikely as each ring was worn on a specific finger.

Here’s a quick run-down of their abilities:

  1. Ice Blast / “Zero”: Lowers an object’s temperature to nearly absolute zero.
  2. Black Light / “Nightbringer”: Creates an area of absolute blackness that absorbs all light used within it.
  3.  Mento-Intensifier / “The Liar”: Allows the wearer to place one or more people under his mental control and transmit orders to them mentally.
  4. Disintegration Beam / “Spectral”: Destroys all bonds between the atoms and molecules of an object.
  5. Electro Blast / “Lightning”: Emits electricity in amounts at intensities mentally determined by the wearer.
  6. Vortex Beam / “Spin”: Causes air to move about a high speed in a vortex. The vortex can be used as an offensive weapon, to levitate objects, or to propel the wearer through the air. 
  7. Flame Blast / “Incandescence”: Emits infrared radiation or heat at intensities mentally determined by the wearer.
  8. Impact Beam / “Influence”: Projects various forms of energy, most frequently fast neutrons with great concussive force, but it can also be used to project intense sonic vibrations and to create magnetic waves.
  9. White Light / “Daimonic”: Emits various forms of energy along the electromagnetic spectrum including gravity.
  10. Matter Rearranger / “Remaker”: Rearranges the atoms and molecules of a substance, or speed up or slow down their movement, to produce various effects.

During Kieron Gillen’s tenure on Iron Man, it was revealed that the rings were able to speak to each other via telepathy and used new names to identify one another. While the sentience was later revealed to be a temporary ability, we can only wonder whether this is something Marvel will introduce to the movie.

Shang-Chi was a part of a bigger, stronger Avengers team

In the comics, Iron Man and Captain America recruited Shang-Chi to join a new, bigger, and stronger Avengers team. During his time in the team, he launched an assault on Mars, was attacked by ninjas, had to fight Thanos, turned into a giant to fight a dragon… and the weird list goes on. While it’s doubtful that any of this would happen in the cinematic universe, it is still interesting to consider Shang-Chi joining the MCU’s Avengers in a future movie.

Another possibility in the MCU canon is Shang-Chi joining the Agents of Atlas, a group of Asian-American heroes led by FBI Agent Jimmy Woo. Considering Marvel’s inclusion of more Asian characters, Jimmy Woo’s increasing popularity among fans, and fan requests for an Agents of Atlas series, how cool would it be if Shang-Chi tagged along?

Are you excited to watch”Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings”? Share your thoughts on the movie with us in the comments below! As for us, September couldn’t be further away.

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