“Shang-Chi” 1st Trailer Introduces Marvel’s Newest Hero

Birthday presents are cool and all, but how many people get an entire Marvel movie trailer released in honor of their birthday? Shang-Chi And The Legend Of The Ten Rings star Simu Liu became one of the lucky few to receive that distinction this morning, as Marvel surprised him – and all of us – with a first trailer for the hotly-anticipated next installment of the MCU after Black Widow: after initially revealing a poster for the upcoming movie that, while quite beautiful, wouldn’t have given us much to talk about beyond the fact that Simu Liu’s official costume is stunning.

Shang-Chi
Shang-Chi | collider.com

But we’ve been promised a lot of martial arts epics by Hollywood that have more often than not failed to match the visual splendor and shock-and-awe factor of action films produced in China, South Korea, and Japan. I can’t say for certain if Shang-Chi will be able to break that trend based on just a single trailer, but I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t optimistic – because the trailer has got the visual splendor in spades (cinematographer Bill Pope is new to the MCU, but not to action-heavy blockbusters, with the visually stunning Alita: Battle Angel being one of his most notable credits), and the wuxia elements left me both shocked and awed…possibly because, for the longest time, I was convinced Marvel would go in a much grittier direction with the character.

The first minute of trailer footage still had me worried that would be the case – but then Shang-Chi battles a magical, flowery-hat wearing, wind spirit, in a bamboo grove (and the Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon parallels are so strong, I have to believe it’s Michelle Yeoh behind that green mask)…and from there, the trailer cuts to a flashback sequence, with an entire army of gravity-defying warriors fighting alongside giant lions and bats. The Mandarin (here using the name Wenwu) uses his titular Ten Rings to create magic weapons and conjure tidal waves. There’s a villain named Razor-Fist, played by Florian Munteanu, whose arms turn into glowing blades. Awkwafina drives a bus over a row of cars like this is Fast And Furious. It’s kind of zany, but that’s undeniably also part of the winning formula for genuine wuxia films.

Shang-Chi
Shang-Chi vs Death Dealer | metro.co.uk

From what we can glean of the story, it’s clear that Shang-Chi was The Mandarin’s adopted son and one of his most powerful disciples as a child. But after letting Shang-Chi go off on his own and forget (or try to forget) his martial arts training for ten years, The Mandarin suddenly shows up again in his son’s life now that he’s an adult, with a whole bunch of threats and taunts about how he’s gone from being the right-hand man of the most dangerous and feared crime-lord in the world to working as a hotel valet and using his spare time to sing a karaoke rendition of A Whole New World (gotta love the corporate synergy there) with Awkwafina.

But Shang-Chi gets pulled back into his life of crime, and…well, I have no idea what happens next. There were rumors at one point that the film’s plot would revolve around a martial arts tournament with the prize being the Ten Rings themselves, and we see glimpses of what that might look like with Shang-Chi dueling Meng’er Zhang’s character in some kind of nightclub/crime den, but my theory (based on Zhang and Munteanu’s villains being clearly visible disembarking from The Mandarin’s helicopter behind Shang-Chi in one shot) is that The Mandarin will send them all on a globe-trotting treasure-hunt to the death. That allows for more diversity to the locations and fight-scenes than just a single building (even one with such beautiful bisexual lighting).

And speaking of diversity, one thing I really want to talk about is the fact that this film is a milestone for Asian and Asian-American representation onscreen. Building off the amazing work of Chloe Bennet and Ming-Na Wen on Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D., Simu Liu’s Shang-Chi will be the first Asian-American superhero to exist inside the peripheries of the MCU proper, and the first to get his own solo movie – and that is definitely worth celebrating. There’s no need to pit these characters against each other or hate on any of them, particularly since (if their adorable Twitter interactions are any indication) it seems like Liu would love for Bennet’s Quake to cross over into the MCU at long last.

Shang-Chi
Wenwu and Shang-Chi | finance.yahoo.com

And on that note, happy birthday to Shang-Chi himself, Simu Liu! He seems like one of the most humble, down-to-earth people working in the MCU today, but he’s going to literally fly onto our screens this September, and I couldn’t be happier for him.

Trailer Rating: 8.9/10

Marvel Developing An “Agents Of Atlas” Adaptation!

Some day, Marvel will have to run out of new content to adapt to the big (or small) screen: some day, but today is not that day. Today, we have learned that the studio is planning to take yet another obscure group of characters from their seemingly endless roster and transform them overnight into pop culture phenomenons. This means that not only do we have Black Widow, Eternals, Falcon And The Winter Soldier, WandaVision, Loki, Shang-Chi, Doctor Strange 2, What If, Thor: Love And Thunder, Moon Knight, She-Hulk, Spider-Man 3, Hawkeye, Ms. Marvel, Ant-Man 3, Black Panther 2, Blade, Captain Marvel 2, Guardians Of The Galaxy 3, Deadpool 3, a possible Secret Invasion Disney+ series, and future Fantastic Four and X-Men properties to look forward to (and if I forgot any others, please let me know in the comments), but we can now possibly add Agents Of Atlas to the list.

Marvel Developing An "Agents Of Atlas" Adaptation! 1
newsarama.com

You may not know the Agents of Atlas, which is why I’m here to inform you that they are, in fact, quite an interesting and diverse group of characters who certainly seem like a good fit for the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Founded, in the comics, by S.H.I.E.L.D. Agent Jimmy Woo (played in the MCU by Randall Parks), the team of Asian superheroes includes a wide variety of unique characters. The line-up changes from time to time, but a prominent member has always been Shang-Chi, the Master of Kung Fu, who will make his debut next year in Shang-Chi And The Legend Of The Ten Rings – which, intriguingly, was just today confirmed to be filming scenes in San Francisco, where the Agents of Atlas have their roots, and where Jimmy Woo is already known to operate, as seen in the Ant-Man films. It’s thus safe to assume that an Agents of Atlas property would directly tie-in to events in the Shang-Chi origin story, as the initial report indicates.

It’s unclear whether Agents Of Atlas would end up in theaters or on Disney+, but I’m betting the team will show up first on the small screen before graduating to the big, probably in a Shang-Chi sequel. The group will probably include all its most popular members from the comics, including Shang-Chi; Jimmy Woo; Amadeus Cho, the Korean-American Hulk; Aero, a wind-manipulating Chinese woman; Crescent and Io, a South Korean girl and a giant glowing blue magic bear; Wave, a Filipina heroine with control over water; and Luna Snow, a South Korean K-Pop singer with ice powers (Silk, another important member of the team, is a little less likely since she’s a Spider-Man supporting character and thus jointly-owned by Sony). All of these characters have the potential to be really awesome in the MCU.

So what do you think? Are the Agents of Atlas something you want to see in the MCU or not? Share your own thoughts, theories and opinions in the comments below!

Michelle Yeoh May Have Just Joined “Shang-Chi” Cast!

It looks like Marvel Studios’ Shang-Chi And The Legend Of The Ten Rings has just picked up a star whose addition to the cast should make all martial-arts or wuxia fans take notice – legendary Malaysian actress Michelle Yeoh is supposedly circling a role in the superhero film.

Michelle Yeoh May Have Just Joined "Shang-Chi" Cast! 2
themarysue.com

Yeoh, the star of classic action films like Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon (and its much-maligned but honestly fantastic sequel) and Tomorrow Never Dies, as well as the recent hit comedy Crazy Rich Asians, the TV series Star Trek: Discovery, and all four upcoming Avatar sequels, is regarded by many as one of the Asian film scene’s most respected and acclaimed onscreen talents, so it’s no surprise that she would want a role in Shang-Chi, which is hoping to become a huge hit with both Chinese and American audiences – the fact that the film is also going to include a number of intense, epic action sequences (which Yeoh excels at doing) probably doesn’t hurt either. This will not be Yeoh’s first time in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, as she portrayed intergalactic pirate Aleta Ogord in Guardians Of The Galaxy Vol. 2 for roughly 0.1 seconds, but it seems unlikely she’s reprising that role here, as the character of Ogord probably wouldn’t have a very good reason to come to earth and interact with Shang-Chi, Master of Kung Fu – though it would be interesting if she did. That will make Yeoh one of a steadily growing number of actors who now play two different characters in the MCU – we can expect that number to keep growing, as Marvel continues to make up for its regrettable early trend of taking great actors, sticking them in a movie for a momentary, meaningless cameo, and then never using them again.

As for who Yeoh will be playing in this film, that’s being kept secret: with Hong Kong film star Tony Leung playing long-awaited villainous mastermind The Mandarin, and Asian-American comedian Awkwafina possibly playing his daughter Fah Lo Suee, it makes sense that Yeoh could be playing another member of this scarily efficient crime family – or she might be playing Shang-Chi’s mother (who, in the extremely antiquated and, let’s be honest, downright racist comics, is a white American woman genetically selected to be the partner of the supervillain Fu Manchu). Or she might be both: after all, it’s still somewhat unclear whether Shang-Chi will actually be part of The Mandarin’s family, or adopted, or someone else entirely. They’ve clearly got a connection, but it’s too early to determine if or how Michelle Yeoh’s character ties into that equation.

Whoever she’s playing, let’s just keep our fingers crossed that she gets to do some high-flying sword fighting and fancy footwork in this film.

How do you feel about Yeoh’s casting? Are you excited for her new role in Shang-Chi, or upset that she’s breaking MCU continuity to get there? Share your thoughts, theories and opinions in the comments below!

Shang-Chi’s Ten Rings – What Are They?

It’s theorizing time! I’m not always an expert at this sort of thing (I tend to have flashes of what I think could be an interesting idea, but…well, we’ll get to that), but I’m mainly writing this post so you – and I – can understand better one of the more intriguing developments in the Marvel Cinematic Universe: the unveiling of the long-anticipated villain, The Mandarin, and his shadowy terrorist organization; the Ten Rings.

Shang-Chi's Ten Rings - What Are They? 3
marvelcinematicuniverse.fandom.com

Well, them too – mainly we’ll be talking about the literal ten rings, what they are, what they can do, whether we’ll see them used as frequent plot devices like the Infinity Stones were (the proper term for an object in a film/book that is used as a plot device, such as Marvel’s Tesseract, is a MacGuffin: bear that in mind).

Let’s start with a recap of what we know: The Mandarin, one of Marvel’s most enigmatic villains, will finally appear in the upcoming film Shang-Chi And The Legend Of The Ten Rings, probably filling the role of Shang-Chi’s villainous father from the comics: Fu Manchu. The Mandarin is traditionally an Iron Man villain, and has indeed already been connected with Iron Man in the MCU – members of his terrorist organization kidnapped Tony Stark all the way back in the very first Marvel Studios film. But Stark never actually got a showdown with the mastermind himself – instead, he was surprised to learn that the man he had believed to be The Mandarin was actually just a regular guy (well, if you can call Ben Kingsley a regular guy) who had rather inadvertently had to adopt the moniker before becoming a puppet for an entirely different terrorist group. Needless to say, the Mandarin’s followers weren’t too happy with this guy pretending to be their criminal warlord, so they broke him out of prison after the events of Iron Man 3 and brought him face to face with the real Mandarin, someone we’ve never actually seen onscreen. And that was the last we’ve heard from The Mandarin or the Ten Rings, except for one brief encounter in the first Ant-Man movie, where Scott Lang battled a mercenary working for the organization. Since then, the group has apparently gone underground. But someone (or something…) is going to bring them back to the forefront of the MCU in 2021, clearly, so what can it be?

Well, to explain that, we have to look at the Ten Rings themselves – and I’m not talking about the terrorists anymore, I’m talking about the ten rings; like, rings you wear on your fingers, those kinds of rings. The Ten Rings (the terrorists) will probably be very important to the story of Shang-Chi’s solo movie, but I highly doubt they’re the Ten Rings being referenced in the film’s title – because the Ten Rings, while very mysterious, aren’t exactly legendary: the ten rings, on the other hand…well, those are.

I feel like this post is going to get very confusing. Warning to all future Marvel criminal masterminds: please don’t name your business after your jewelry – it just makes things a lot more complicated than they need to be. Thanks.

Anyway, the Mandarin’s ten rings are almost mythical, and very nearly divine. In the comics, these ten devices were created by a race of aliens known as the Makluans: they are weapons, endowed with the incorporeal spirits of ancient cosmic warriors and heroes, and each also possesses the ability to think and operate on its own, without even needing a wearer to use it. The ten rings are named Remaker, Influence, Spectral, Spin, Incandescence, Nightbringer, Daimonic, Zero, Lightning, and The Liar. They each have specific powers, but if you’re interested I’ll direct you to a place where you can learn more about those. For the purposes of this post, I’m not going to go into the subtle differences between “manipulating the atomic and molecular structures of matter” and “destroying the bonds between the atoms and the molecules”. Let’s put it this way: these things are powerful. Maybe not on quite the same level as, say, the One Ring of Power, but they’re up there.

Now, at first, upon reading all this, I had a crazy idea that somehow the Infinity Stones themselves would be used to explain the ten rings: that, somehow, when Thanos destroyed the seven stones, their broken fragments wandered across the universe and ended up in/on the hands of The Mandarin. Then I kind of realized that The Mandarin has been established to have had these ten rings since at least the 1950s. In the comics, he just happened to be the one guy around when a Makluan spaceship carrying the ten rings crash-landed in China: being a quick-thinking, practical sort of guy, The Mandarin killed the alien pilot and stole the rings. Much of the rest of his story has already been adapted in a slightly different fashion: he kidnapped Tony Stark (been there, done that), and then one of his rings ended up with Malekith the Dark Elf (he’s already dead in the MCU timeline). But that doesn’t mean there still aren’t interesting stories to be told.

For instance, the story of Tony Stark being kidnapped might have been adapted to the big screen already, but the Titanomechs which he built for the Mandarin in the comics haven’t: interestingly, these cyborg killers were later defeated by a swarm of Stark’s nanobots – and in the MCU, one of Stark’s last actions was to bequeath a similar swarm of nanobots to his friend, Peter Parker. There’s also the question of whether or not the rings will have their sentient abilities in the movies: if so, they could easily escape before The Mandarin is (possibly) defeated by Shang-Chi, and might find ten willing hosts for themselves. In the comics, when this happened, none of the hosts were really extraordinary, big-name characters – Malekith was by far the most important of them, and the MCU has already reduced him to a cut-and-dry one-off bad guy. The people that did end up with the rings were all rather pathetic, in fact: a disgruntled Broadway director who named himself “Lightning Conductor”, and a French neo-Nazi, for instance. But this time around, wouldn’t it be much more exciting if the rings actually went looking for the most powerful villains and criminals in the world – especially at this critical time, when there have been reports going around that Marvel wants to produce a villain team-up movie such as Thunderbolts, which could unite characters like Baron Zemo, Justin Hammer, Red Hulk and Ghost.

What do you think? How would you like to see the Ten Rings and the ten rings implemented into the MCU, and what sort of future could they have? Will the Mandarin be a one-and-done villain, or could he make multiple appearances in the next phase of Marvel films? Share your own theories in the comments below!