The Infinity Saga has ended, and the Marvel Cinematic Universe is now ready to continue its global (box office) domination by moving on to Phase Four. At Marvel's San Diego Comic-Con panel on Saturday, July 20, a new slate of superhero smashes were revealed for the MCU, including Disney+ TV series and stand-alone films that'll offer fresh adventures with some familiar friends, as well as a few new features, like Eternals, Blade, What If ...?, and Shang-Chi. If you're not familiar with the latter of those new titles, we're here to help.
Announced for a Feb. 21, 2021 release, Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings will star Simu Liu (Taken, Kim's Convenience) as the titular Master of Kung Fu. The actor basically The Secreted the movie into existence, as one look at his Twitter feed will confirm. (Check the dates!)
Well shit.— Simu Liu (@SimuLiu) July 21, 2019
LOL— Simu Liu (@SimuLiu) July 21, 2019
Of course, none of that will mean anything to you yet if you don't know who Shang-Chi even is, so let's talk about a few key character details to get you primed for this MCU newcomer.
So, who is Shang-Chi?
The first thing you need to know about Shang-Chi is that he is an incredible martial artist — in fact, he is the greatest in the Marvel Universe, known as the Master of Kung Fu. He is also the son of Fu Manchu, a notorious crime boss who hoped to raise him to follow in his footsteps. However, Shang-Chi, whose name means "rising and advancing of the spirit," grew up to be more of a philosophical sort and, once he learned of his father's nefarious work around the world, he became his own father's worst enemy. Shang-Chi was introduced in 1973's Special Edition Marvel #15 by Steve Englehart and Jim Starlin.
What powers does he have?
Through his training in China, Shang-Chi is extremely adept in martial arts, so much so that no one can possibly belt up to his level. He prefers hand-to-hand combat, but he is still quite skilled with weapons — particularly when it comes to dodging them. Despite his might in any fight, though, Shang-Chi is a spiritual person who wants to rid the world of evil and enjoys his quiet life in a fishing village. His deep connection to and control of his emotions serves him well in any given situation. In the comics, he also gains the ability to create duplicates of himself to aid in battle.
Does he have a posse?
Yes. The British agent Denis Nayland Smith, who introduced Shang-Chi to his father's true profession as a mega-mobster, became something of a father figure to him. He also worked closely with an operative named Black Jack Tarr and MI-6 agents Clive Reston and Leiko Wu, the latter of whom also became a love interest for Shang-Chi in the comics. He later connected with Dr. James Petrie, whom Shang-Chi was sent to assassinate by his father before he knew of his true nature, after the character reemerged alive, having survived the attempt on his life. The group eventually formed their own spy ring called Freelance Restorations. He has also teamed up with several of the Avengers, including Captain America's Secret Adventures squad, Spider-Man, and the X-Men. He also helped form a group called The Protectors with other Asian-American superheroes, including Jimmy Woo, Silk, and Ms. Marvel and eventually joined the Agents of Atlas, alongside Woo, Silk, Brawn, Wave, and Luna Snow.
Who are his enemies?
Fu Manchu, Shang-Chi's father, is the main supervillain of his life, and he aims to bring chaos to the world — he even once tried to dislodge the moon from its orbit — and initiate other global conflicts that Shang-Chi has to stop. Shang-Chi has also battled with many of his father's seedy crime underlings and other children, including his adoptive brother M'Nai aka Midnight who was sent to assassinate him for treason. He is also often called upon to help his pals in MI-6 battle other villains, including would-be terrorists, and once even had to fight a clone of himself that his father made and sent to kill him.
What else do I need to know?
There are a lot of possibilities for Shang-Chi's cinematic storyline, but two things Marvel fans can count on seeing from the character is his inimitable martial artistry and his penchant for pacifism. Shang-Chi's gift for fighting is sometimes difficult for him to grapple with, and he often retreats to his quiet homestead to pursue peace before being recruited back to the battle scene. Fans can likely look forward to him adopting a Captain America-esque position in the MCU, since he is also not blessed with the same kind of traditional superpowers as his peers.
Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings will hit heaters on Feb. 21, 2021.