Last night’s Marvel presentation at San Diego Comic-Con included a lot of fancy title reveals – and really long titles at that. Shang-Chi was no exception, as it was graced with the subtitle: “Legend of the Ten Rings”, a moniker packed with meaning. Let’s dive into it.
Okay, so the Ten Rings are a shadowy terrorist organization in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, something that has only ever been glimpsed from the sidelines. They are supposedly commanded by a character known as The Mandarin, who was the focal point of a very unpopular Iron Man 3 plot twist, in which The Mandarin was revealed to be a random guy named Trevor Slattery, who was basically just a front for a different organization entirely. But, thankfully, there was still a loophole: turns out, The Mandarin does exist, according to the oft-forgotten one-shot All Hail The King, in which Slattery was abducted from the prison by Ten Rings agents and forced to give his name back to the man he had stolen it from – The Mandarin himself. While we never saw the criminal mastermind onscreen, his presence has lurked in the dark sidelines of the MCU. His arch-nemesis, Tony Stark, is now obviously unable to face off against him (being, you know, dead and all), but it looks like The Mandarin won’t be getting off the hook just yet.
That’s right – the Ten Rings, who haven’t been seen since a cameo in the first Ant-Man movie, are returning to wreak havoc in Phase 4 of the MCU. And this time, it’s one of their own who will have to stop them and their nefarious plots: Shang-Chi, who, at least in comics lore, is the heroic son of The Mandarin, will be the star of the upcoming film Shang-Chi And The Legend Of The Ten Rings, to be released on February 12th, 2021. While there was no official confirmation that the film would be following the comics in that regard, we do have casting for both roles.
Shang-Chi himself will be portrayed by Chinese-Canadian actor Simu Liu, in one of the night’s biggest surprise announcements. It’s no wonder, though, that nobody had even a hint of this story going into the panel – Liu only screen-tested for the role last Sunday, and was cast on Tuesday. I don’t know him from anything, but his enthusiasm is unquestionable, so I think we’re in pretty good hands – whether those hands are the “Deadly Hands of Kung-Fu”, as the character was known in the comics, remains to be seen.
As for The Mandarin, he will be portrayed by an Asian actor as well: Chinese screen legend Tony Leung, in fact. Again, I am unfamiliar with most of his work, but he definitely looks imposing – I can’t wait to see how he plays the character: will he be a suave mob-boss or a sinister villain? The Mandarin has been built up so much – I really hope he doesn’t disappoint.
And, in one final bit of casting news that nobody anticipated, Asian comedian Awkwafina, star of Crazy Rich Asians and The Farewell, will be the film’s female lead, though her role is still unnamed as of yet. As a fan of Awkwafina, I’m very excited to see what she can do with this role, and whether it will be comedic or more dramatic. It would be cool to see her as a warrior or gangster: it’s even possible that she’ll be playing Shang-Chi’s villainous sister, Zheng Bao Yu.
How do you feel about this cast? Do you like the premise? Share your thoughts in the comments below!