I have tackled a few upcoming MCU movies, and shows in previous weeks. Today, I think it’s time to look at Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings. So buckle in for some crazy martial-arts, weird-ass Asian mythology, and hopefully something very fresh from Marvel Studios, at least, I hope.
As always with this column, whilst I’ll base this on what we know already, this isn’t really speculation. Instead this column is more of a wish-list to say what I as a fan would like to see from a movie, game or show. So, let’s get into what we do know, and what’s been rumored.
What We Know About Shang-Chi And The Legend Of The Ten Rings
Honestly, we really don’t know much officially about Shang-Chi just yet. We know Shang-Chi will feature martial-arts, and we know that the vast majority of the cast will be of Asian heritage. We also know that Tony Leung will play the Mandarin — the real Mandarin — and he seems to be the film’s main villain. Oh, and we know that lead star Simu Liu has been in training to get ready for playing the role of Shang-Chi. Other than rounding out the cast members we know of, or listing the history of director Destin Daniel Cretton, we don’t know much else.
When it comes to the rumor mill then there is a ‘supposedly’ rough plotline out there in the interwebs. We cannot speak to the accuracy of the supposed leak, but it was a brief outline at best. I guess the reason I am writing about Shang-Chi this week, is inspiration that was sparked by that rumor though. I’ll cut a long story short. The rumor describes the Mandarin hosting a martial-arts tournament. The purpose of this tournament varies, but we are told the winner will get the mythical Ten Rings. The previous custodian of those Ten Rings was supposedly the dragon, Fing Fang Foom. The other prevailing theory is that Shang-Chi was working for British Intelligence branch MI6. Shang-Chi’s main task was to take down The Mandarin, who may, or may not be Shang-Chi’s father.
Now, these were 4Chan rumors, which means they could very well be nothing more than fan-fiction. More reputable sources have not come forward to lend any validity to these claims, so it’s a wild rumor at best. However, at this point in a movie’s production, I always feel like speculation is more fun than actual spoilers anyway. So, let’s have some fun.
Enter The Dragon Meets Big Trouble In Little China
I love both Enter the Dragon and Big Trouble in Little China, for very different reasons. Apart from the fact both movies feature some Kung-Fu combat, they are not really alike. However, my brain has gone to a fusion of these classic movies, with a dash of Marvel for Shang-Chi. Admit it, it sounds like fun right? But what do I mean specifically?
When it comes to Enter the Dragon, then I think the connections are obvious based on those rumors. In Enter the Dragon, Bruce Lee had to infiltrate a criminal organization by joining a fighting tournament. When you look at the origin of Shang-Chi, he first appeared in 1973. Bruce Lee tragically passed away in 1973, and for me, looking at the early comics, Shang-Chi WAS Marvel’s Bruce Lee. I absolutely think Marvel should lean into this, and for inspiration, then there is no better example than Enter the Dragon.
The problem would be, that we already have Enter the Dragon. How would Marvel Studios take Enter the Dragon and superhero it up? That’s where Big Trouble in Little China comes in. The action-comedy cult hit from the ’80s featured all sorts of craziness. A macho, rather simple, but enigmatic trucker gets caught up with some Chinese mythology come to life. Big Trouble starts mild, but goes into crazy-Ville very quickly, once the magic powers, and superhuman warriors start to appear. Our heroes, have to rescue friends, stop an ancient wizard from becoming all-powerful and kick some serious butt.
Mix the plotlines of these two movies together and you have the perfect Shang-Chi movie. For me anyway.
How Would It Work?
Imagine a tournament like Enter the Dragon, but the host is more Lo-Pan from BTILC, than Han from ETD? If the Ten Rings are technology that is indistinguishable from magic, then it’ll feel magical. In the comics, Shang-Chi didn’t actually have any superpowers, even though he got some once or twice. Instead, Shang-Chi was like a real-life Bruce Lee, who had trained his body to perfection etc. I’ll say right now, that sounds boring to me, I want Shang-Chi to have ‘enhanced’ abilities. I think Shang-Chi knocking out some good fighters along the way sounds ok, but it’s just Enter the Dragon or Bloodsport. When you add in the ‘enhanced’ formula that we are familiar with from Marvel, it sets this apart.
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I’m imagining a toned-down version of a Mortal Kombat fighting tournament, more than Bloodsport. A tournament in which the likes of Cap, Black Panther, and Winter Soldier wouldn’t be out of place. I could see a situation that gives Shang-Chi abilities if he is truly Mandarin’s son. Or, there could be some element to the tournament which gives abilities to those who take part?. Essentially, I am saying the plot of Enter the Dragon would be here. Enter a tournament to infiltrate and stop an evil villain. But instead of a ‘real world’ scenario, we would have a bit of ancient Chinese mythology mixed with some magic, and dragons.
I think by giving Shang-Chi enhanced abilities it stops him from being stereotypical going forward in the MCU. We have the tech guy, the strong guy, and the Chinese martial-artist guy, you know where I am going with that. Is the only thing China can bring the table Kung-Fu? Yeah, Shang-Chi is a martial-arts expert, but make him more than an ordinary human. By doing this, Shang-Chi can feel at home easier with the Avengers for me. Don’t make him the new Hawkeye or Black Widow, that only fights minor enemies, while the real heroes take on the heavy lifting.
Wrap It Up, Fanboy
I love martial-arts movies, but I think you need something that shouts Marvel in Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings. By toning down the violence of Enter the Dragon, and toning down the comedy of Big Trouble in Little China, and merging those plots together, I think you have a great movie. Will The Mandarin be a recurring villain in the MCU, or a one and done? The MCU gives us both types of villain, and we are never sure which is which. Personally, I feel we need a few more in the recurring category, and the Mandarin, could be a good option.
Ultimately, this is just my own vision, and I’m not saying this is going to happen. I guess it’s just what I’d pitch to Marvel if it was me. so like always, I want to hear what you guys think, but not just of my ideas. I want to hear your own pitches for Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings. Tell us what you think in the usual spot below.
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