Shang Chi, the new Marvel hero hits theaters in September loaded with action, historical context and references to previous films
After some time without relevant film premieres and the success of its series on Disney +, Marvel released the first trailer for Shang Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings. star Simu Liu (Kim's Convenience), Tony Leung (Amor à Flor da Pele) and an actress who has been gaining a lot of prominence, and a Golden Globe, for her role in “A Despedida”, the rapper Awkwafina.
The feature will tell the story of Shang Chi, the son of the feared Mandarin, trained in martial arts since he was a child, and who must return home after ten years of absence, to take his place alongside his father at the head of the organization known as The Ten Rings, but he refuses, because he knows the real world and realizes that his father is not a great man as well as he believed he was.
Watch the trailer for Shang Chi
In addition to the trailer, posters and behind-the-scenes images were released via Twitter
The Origins of Shang Chi
The character was created in 1970, when the kung fu films were a huge success and Marvel, to embark on this phenomenon, tried to acquire the rights to adapt the Kung Fu series, starring David Carradine (Kill Bill Vol 1 and 2), but without success in the negotiation, he bought the rights of another character related to martial arts and already popular at the time, the villain of English literature known as Fu Manchu.
Fu Manchu had its first appearance in 1913, in the short story written by Sax Rohmer, The Zayat Kiss, and is described as one of the first fictional “supervillains”. He was an intelligent man and the leader of a criminal organization full of murderers who used knives or poisonous animals in their crimes. In addition, the villain had access to a potion of eternal life.
The character was born out of a growing xenophobic and racist fear of the western world against the unknown east, wrapped up in immigration and political conflicts, which became known as “Yellow Terror”. During this period it was common to see the representation of Orientals as dangerous and inferior creatures. Characters like Namor, also from Marvel, started out as villains in their stories and had oriental features.
Fu Manchu was born from this context, a villain coming from the mysterious communist China and who represented the greatest danger to the “free white man” and was gradually being forgotten, when the stereotype of the Chinese with thin mustaches and big nails came to be frowned upon by the society. However, until that happened, he received entries in books, TV series and films. In addition to influencing other characters like Ra's Al Ghul, Batman villain, and a rock band named after him.
Taking advantage of the success of the figure created in the books, Marvel acquired the comic book production rights for the character and created its Kung Fu Master, Shang Chi.
The origin story of the character is very similar to what we will see in the film: Shang Chi is the son of Fu Manchu, a leader of a terrorist organization, who discovered that his father was not as noble a man as he imagined and rebels against him. He joined his father's archenemy, Sir Denis Nayland Smith, and went on to fight him alongside the MI-6.
As a hero, Shang Chi fought alongside several well-known heroes such as The Thing, Spider-Man, Captain America and affiliated with various groups such as The Heroes for Hire and even the Avengers, until finally seeing his father's death and retiring as a fisherman. However, in 2015, when Marvel lost the publishing rights of the character Fu Manchu, it was necessary to give a new origin to the hero.
In the new version, Shang Chi is the son of a tyrant leader of a terrorist organization called Emperor Zheng Zu, Master of the Ten Rings. Basically, it's Fu Manchu by another name! The rest is practically the same: son in exile, he discovers that his father is bad and rebels against him! The story is very similar to the original, but the character became more autonomous and popular after these changes.
Shang Chi is a skilled fighter who has defeated opponents with superhuman powers. Specializing in Chinese martial arts, he is also a good gymnast, sniper, spy and even fisherman. Through a unique control of his chi, he can acquire strength, speed and precision at levels compared to people with super skills. In addition, because of its dominance of the nervous system, it can become resistant to injuries, pain and even poisons.
The origins of Mandarin
However, neither Fu Manchu or Zheng Zu will be seen in the film. Shang Chi gains a new father in this film adaptation, the one already known to the Mandarin audience. Yes, the same Mandarin that appeared in Iron Man 3, but at the same time, a completely new Mandarin.
The villain was created in 1964 and is Tony Stark's main enemy. Despite being created 9 years before Fu Manchu at Marvel, the villain is strongly influenced by the literary villain, with the same mustache and attitude, however, his powers come not from a magic potion but from ten alien rings he found on an archaeological expedition.
Descendant of Genshis Khan, the Mandarin, whose real name is unknown, is a character described as born in China before the communist revolution, the son of a wealthy Chinese father and an aristocratic English mother. Both died when he was very young. In addition to being a brilliant scientist, he is skilled in martial arts and an exceptional athlete. Despite resources and allies, his greatest source of power is in his rings, which he found on an alien spaceship.
The Ten Rings
These rings came from a planet called Kakaranathara (also known as Maklu IV) that lies somewhere in the galaxy known as the Magellanic Cloud. The inhabitants of this planet were a peaceful Draconian people who launched themselves into space to conquer other planets, but when they arrived on Earth they suffered an accident and were forced to live among humans to survive.
The Mandarin found the ship of these dragons and with the help of the scientist Ho Yinsen (the one who helped Tony Stark in the cave in the first film) discovered how the rings worked and used them to dominate part of China. Among its most common allies is the Dragon Fin Fang Foom, who came to Earth in the same ship as the rings. The dragon, even, almost appeared in the first movie of Iron Man, and can be seen on a billboard.
The rings have the following powers:
- Ice blast / ”Zero”
The ring emits waves of cold that can be used to stun an opponent. The ring normally makes its way through the air in its explosion to turn to ice, and can lower an object's temperature to almost absolute zero. The yolk has the shape of several small cylindrical capsules, blue-white in color.
- Black light / ”Nightbringer”
The ring can create an area of absolute darkness that appears to absorb all the light that is around it. Although "black light" is a term used to refer to ultraviolet radiation, the darkness created by the ring is probably; a form of "Darkforce." The gem is in the form of four small black-blue dots, arranged in a square shape in groups of two.
- Mento-Intensificador / ”The Liar”
The ring amplifies the user's own psychic energy, allowing him to place one or more people under his mental control and to transmit orders to them mentally. Most often used to create illusions. The gem is shaped like a slanted blue / square diamond.
- Disintegrating beam / ”Spectral”
The ring emits a beam of energy that destroys all the bonds between the atoms and molecules of the object it attacks. This ring has twenty minutes to recharge after use. The gem is shaped like a gold square.
- Electric explosion / ”Lightning”
The ring emits electrical energy in quantities and intensities mentally determined by the user. The maximum limit currently reached is not known. The yolk has the shape of an angled green line.
- Vortex beam / ”Spin”
The ring causes air to move at high speed, as in a vortex. The vortex can be used as a weapon of attack, as a means of levitating objects; or as a means of propelling the ring user through the air. The gem is shaped like a simple blue circle.
- Explosion of flames / ”Incandescence”
The ring emits infrared or heat radiation at intensities mentally determined by the user. Normally, the heat from the flame is produced through an incandescent path through the molecules in the air generating an explosion. The heat beam can be used to trigger chemical explosions. The maximum amount of heat it can generate is not known. The gem has the shape similar to the ice burst ring, but with four capsules and a red color.
- Impact beam / ”Influence”
This ring can project various forms of energy, more often than fast neutrons, with great concussion force. The ring has also been used to project intense sound vibrations and create magnetic waves that attract or repel objects. The ring may be able to emit other forms of energy, as well as it has been used to throw Iron Man across a mountain. The gem is shaped like a star, of a purple (or red) color.
- White light / ”Daimonic”
This ring can emit various forms of energy across the electromagnetic spectrum. It has been used to create powerful enough gravity to make Iron Man bury himself while trying to move forward. The gem has the shape of two white circles, set in gold (almost like a pair of eyes).
- Reorganization of the story / ”Remaker”
This ring can reorganize the atoms and molecules of a substance, or speed up or slow down its movement, in order to produce various effects. The ring has been used to condense water vapor in the air to liquid, to solidify gases; to create deadly poisonous gases in the air, to turn a group of men into stone, to turn a man into a beetle, to turn a mountain into a rock monster, and to make a stone hand large enough to break from the ground. The yolk has the shape of a small purple circle.
However, the Mandarin that we will see in Shang Chi is another. Despite Ben Kingsley's brilliant performance, fans didn't like the fact that Mandarin, Iron Man's greatest villain, was just a puppet and a scammer, so Marvel announced that "we would still see the real Mandarin in the movies" and released a short film called “All Hail the King” that shows that Mandarin knew they were using his name and was not happy about it.
In addition to Mandarin, the organization known as the Ten Rings has also appeared in "Iron Man" and has been forgotten until now. With the return of this organization and the introduction of Mandarin and its alien mystical rings, Marvel may be opening the door to several other intergalactic threats and possible connections with other films like Guardians of the Galaxy and Doctor Strange's mysticism.
Shang Chi in theaters
The film has been developed by Marvel Studios since 2001, when the rights of the character were with Dreamworks Pictures and even had the involvement of director Ang Lee, but had not got the go-ahead for the filming and the rights went back to Marvel.
Only in 2018, during the San Diego Comic Con did we have news about the film, with the announcement of Simu Liu in the main role, script by Dave Callaham (Wonder Woman 1984 and Godzilla 2014), and direction by Destin Cretton (The Glass and Temporary Castle 12). The feature film premieres on September 3, 2021 in movie theaters, but there is still no information about the streaming release.
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