Simu Liu was apparently either playing coy or choosing his words very carefully when he told NBC News that Marvel’s Shang-Chi And The Legend Of The Ten Rings would not feature one of the character’s iconic opponents from the comics, the dragon known to most fans as “Fin Fang Foom” – a name which Liu cited as being among the original comics’ more “questionable elements”. And I believe that Liu was telling the truth about Fin Fang Foom not being in the new movie…but he never said there wouldn’t be a dragon. In fact, Funko Pop leaks from a few months ago basically already revealed that there would be a dragon in Shang-Chi, but the new trailer confirms it outright.
Most fans are still referring to the dragon as Fin Fang Foom, but I’m pretty certain that name will never be used in the film, and I can understand why. The dragon doesn’t seem to have a new name just yet, but like the original character they’re an underwater leviathan, probably located under the island of Madripoor as in the comics. Luckily, audiences were just introduced to Madripoor in The Falcon And The Winter Soldier, and I think most of us will jump at the chance to return to the island and dip into its treasure trove of obscure references and Easter eggs, this time with a movie-sized budget to support bigger action sequences. One has to hope we’ll see the dragon rise from the ocean and wreak havoc in the capital of Madripoor, but I may be getting ahead of myself.
Another big reveal, which completely overshadowed the literal dragon for reasons unbeknownst to me, was the long-awaited return of Abomination – a character last seen in 2008’s The Incredible Hulk, a movie most consider to be on the fringes of MCU canon. Abomination was expected to return, with Tim Roth reprising the role, in next year’s She-Hulk Disney+ series, but apparently we’ll catch up with him a lot sooner, given that he most definitely shows up in the stinger of this Shang-Chi trailer, with a slight but significant refinement of his original look that finally gives him his comic-accurate fins. Personally, I couldn’t care less about Abomination, except insofar as the explanation for his reappearance could finally decide the fate of the Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D. canon.
You see, Abomination’s first and last onscreen appearance may have been in The Incredible Hulk, but the last time he was namedropped was actually in Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D. season one, when Coulson mentioned that he was being kept in a cryo-cell in a S.H.I.E.L.D. base in Barrow, Alaska. All I need is for Abomination to mention being locked up in Alaska at one point, and I’ll be ecstatic. It would be so simple, so incredibly easy, for the MCU to at the very least acknowledge that Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D.‘s first and second seasons existed with a single offhand comment, that if they don’t, I’ll be deeply disappointed. Not bringing back the S.H.I.E.L.D. team would also be a missed opportunity, given that Shang-Chi‘s Simu Liu and S.H.I.E.L.D.‘s Chloe Bennet already have an adorable friendship, and that Ming-Na Wen has arguably never been more popular, while the character she originated on S.H.I.E.L.D., Melinda May, recently returned to the pages of Marvel Comics.
Sorry for the rant. While we might not see either of those awesome Asian-American women or their incredible characters interact with Shang-Chi, there’s a decent chance we’ll see Benedict Wong reprise his role as Wong, the powerful sorcerer whom we’ve only seen up to this point assisting Doctor Strange. The Shang-Chi trailer reveals at least one sorcerer battling Abomination in some kind of cage-fight, and, well, everyone on Twitter has decided it’s Wong. It could also be a totally random sorcerer, given that pretty much anyone is capable of mastering the mystic arts in the MCU (it’s one of the few superpowers you don’t have to inherit or be abducted by aliens to obtain).
On that note, a huge reveal that a lot of MCU stans just totally ignored was the appearance of legendary actress Michelle Yeoh, who is playing a mentor figure to Shang-Chi by the name of Jiang Nan – and who tells Shang-Chi that, whether he likes it or not, he is “the legacy” of his family; including his notorious father, the criminal mastermind Wenwu (another character better known to comic readers by an outdated nickname, The Mandarin). I expect much of this film to revolve around themes of legacy and choosing one’s own destiny, hopefully with a found-family trope thrown in for good measure. You know I love a found-family, and can it please involve Razor-Fist? I know he’s trying to kill Shang-Chi, but he’s just so wonderfully ridiculous.
And honestly, anything is better than Shang-Chi’s biological family, based on what we learn from this trailer about Wenwu’s atrocious parenting skills. Little is being said of Shang-Chi’s mother, who is presumably either dead or in hiding, but Wenwu is the film’s primary antagonist – and I hope for Shang-Chi’s sake that Jiang Nan is right, and that he isn’t defined by his father’s cruelty and malice. Wenwu is a great warrior, certainly, but being gifted with immortal life and a set of ancient alien artifacts – the titular Ten Rings – has made him ruthless and possessive. Shang-Chi going after the Rings will be the breaking-point in their already tenuous relationship, leading Wenwu to turn on his son and challenge him to a classic Third Act CGI Showdown™.
Okay, that’s a little harsh. I happen to like quite a few of the MCU’s Third Act CGI Showdowns™, and this one seems to revolve around a clever manipulation of the Ten Rings, which levitate eerily between the two characters as they harness the Rings’ energy like rope in a game of tug-of-war. I just kind of wish the energy was…I don’t know, invisible or something, so the battle could be a bit more visually interesting than characters throwing multi-colored CGI at each other, especially after that was one of the main criticisms of WandaVision‘s finale. But who knows? This might not even be the final fight between the two, and we are only seeing a fraction of it anyway. As long as there are proper martial arts fight scenes in a movie about Marvel Comics’ greatest martial artist, I’ll take whatever this is.
To be honest, this trailer felt more like a teaser than the actual teaser put out back in April, but it still makes me very excited for Shang-Chi, largely because the visuals and cinematography look stunningly beautiful, the cast is excellent, the fight choreography is promising, and there’s a dragon now. How could I not be excited, when there’s a dragon?
Trailer Rating: 7.9/10