Marvel is back at it once again, with an extensive slew of projects set to release in theaters and their streaming platform Disney+. Among Marvel’s upcoming projects is an interesting film called Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings. For those not familiar with the titular character, there is quite a bit to unpack. Here’s what you need to know before the film comes out this fall.
1. Who is Shang-Chi?
To answer your potential question, Shang-Chi is actually an established character in the Marvel comics. The character first debuted around the time Enter the Dragon came out, which featured Bruce Lee. Since the 70s, the western world has become more intrigued in kung fu which prompted Marvel to incorporate the art into their stories. They would acquire the rights to a villain by the name of Dr. Fu-Manchu, the brainchild of novelist Sax Rohmer. Shang-Chi’s story would center around turning away from his villainous father, who they wrote as being Dr. Fu-Manchu. But what is Shang-Chi’s power? Well, put simply he is Marvel’s master of the martial arts. Like he’s really, really good at what he does. So much so that he’s being pitted against a particularly powerful and equally crafty villain in the Marvel comics. Which leads us to the Ten Rings part of the title.
2. What are the Ten Rings?
As far as the comics are concerned, the ten rings are a set of powerful rings that grant their user otherworldly powers. Each one has a name and grants the user a specific power. We’re going to breeze through them here:.
- Zero Ring: A ring that allows the wielder to freeze things close to absolute zero.
- Liar Ring: A ring that allows the wielder to mind control targets and influence their thoughts.
- Lightning Ring: A ring that allows the wielder to generate and control electrical energy.
- Incandescence Ring: A ring that allows the wielder to use heat-based attacks.
- Daimonic Ring: A ring that allows the wielder to manipulate different kinds of energy.
- Nightbringer Ring: A ring that allows the wielder to summon a veil of darkness that absorbs nearby light.
- Spectral Ring: A ring that allows the wielder to shoot a beam of energy that can destroy the bonds between atoms, even bonds at the subatomic level as well.
- Spin Ring: A ring that allows the wielder to generate a vortex as powerful as a tornado or a hurricane.
- Influence Ring: A ring that allows the wielder to generate concussive blasts and powerful sonic booms.
- Remaker Ring: A ring that allows the wielder to manipulate matter to their liking.
Now, it is important to note that the rings as they are described here may not work the same way as they will in the film. The creators at the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) have a penchant for rearranging details and retelling certain aspects of already existing stories. However, one thing has remained constant, and that is the wielder of these rings of power. Bringing us to the next part of our discussion, the long-awaited arrival of a villain known as The Mandarin.
3. Who is The Mandarin?
The Mandarin is a character that technically isn’t new to the MCU. The first time we get a glimpse of this character is in Iron Man 3. Viewers learn however that not only is The Mandarin initially presented as a fake, the “true” Mandarin in that film was a character named Aldrich Killian. Killian was someone who was wronged by Tony Stark, and to take revenge, he gave himself abilities by undergoing a gene manipulation technique called Extremis. Even Comicbook says it in their article, this version of the character wasn’t very satisfying to fans who knew what the real Mandarin is like. The real Mandarin isn’t an actor playing a role or even a genetically enhanced one percenter. The true Mandarin uses the aforementioned ten rings of power to bring his enemies to heel. He is also one of Iron Man’s more notable foes, as in the comics, his rings err more on the side of being technological in origin (even though there are some versions which hold their origin to be mystical). As far as the trailers for Shang-Chi are concerned, it looks like there’s a possibility the rings could be following a mystical track, but there’s no guarantee that this will be the case. On another note, the real Mandarin was also stated as being behind Tony Stark’s kidnapping in the first Iron Man film, as the organization behind it was called The Ten Rings. An organization which is not only a nod to the Mandarin, but one that will be reappearing in Shang-Chi and the Ten Rings with the Mandarin as its leader. As cool as it is to see a classic iteration of this villain getting the screen time it deserves, the Mandarin isn’t the only Marvel character that is getting a revamp.
4. Who else will we be seeing?
Teased in the trailer is a most peculiar fight. In one corner we see one of the sorcerers that are known for working alongside the Sorcerer Supreme (thought to be Wong from Doctor Strange). In the opposing corner, the movie looks to be making an MCU deepcut in terms of revisiting a character from the franchise’s beginnings by including The Abomination. The two characters fighting are indeed Wong and the Abomination, with none other than Marvel’s chief executive, Kevin Feige, to verify this. The last time we saw the Abomination was in Hulk’s one and only standalone movie in the MCU, The Incredible Hulk. When we last saw the Abomination, he was taken in by General Ross and kept under his supervision. At least as of 2017, the only other time there is a reference to this character is in the comic book The Avengers Prelude: Fury’s Big Week and a short film called The Consultant (according to CinemaBlend). In the comic book, Abomination was locked up in The Vault, which is a prison in the MCU. In the short film, there is a movement by the World Security Council to free Abomination, but this attempt to free him is thwarted by Tony Stark, Phil Coulson, and Jasper Sitwell. Since then, there has been no mention of Hulk’s nemesis within the larger MCU universe. Until now that is. In addition to the villain’s return, he also sports an appearance that is much more reminiscent of his original comic book look. For those that have waited for the payoff, it is finally here and it’s not stopping here either. Tim Roth, the actor that portrays the Abomination, is set to reprise his role in the upcoming Marvel series She-Hulk which will be released on Disney+.
5. Why is Shang-Chi so important as a film?
While all the items previously touched upon are important in their own way, the true highlight of the Shang-Chi film runs deeper than anticipated cameos and revamped villains. Shang-Chi will be the first Marvel movie to feature a lead Asian American actor, as well as a predominantly Asian cast. Marvel has been taking strides to up their representation game, which first started with Black Panther. We’ve talked a lot about representation in the film industry in the past (see our articles on Cruella and Scarlett Johansson), and the same rings true with Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings (pardon the pun). Everyone deserves to see a hero in their own image, and thankfully, Shang-Chi will be more than ready to provide that role model energy as the MCU continues to unfold.
Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings official release date is September 3, 2021.