Let’s be honest, as the Marvel Cinematic Universe, better known as the MCU, grows and grows, it can be hard to keep everything on track. Similarly with the DCEU, Transformers, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, GI Joeand so, so much more. Comic Book 101 is a new series that focuses on breaking down every property to the core of the more comfortable fan who does not know the ins and outs of these characters and features. I felt the need to do this series when my wife asked if Iron Man are friends with Batman. This is the kind of thing we laugh about as comic fans, but believe it or not, it’s a fixed question for casual viewers. It will also serve as a refresher course for even the most avid fan. With his movie released this week, there is no better place to start than with Shang-Chi, The Master of Kung Fu itself.
Shang-Chi will in fact immediately be off the MCU as the latest hero Chang-Chi and the legend of the ten ringshits exclusively in theaters on September 3rd. Just because he’s the latest on the big screen does not mean he’s the latest hero. Shang-Chi originally debuted in the December 1973 publication, Special Marvel Edition # 15. Since then, the character has a rich history in the books, which includes teaming up with several Marvels teams, including but not limited to: The Avengers, The Secret Avengers, Marvel Knights, Heroes for Hire and even a period in MI -6 . Several of these teams may be his point of connection with the MCU as a whole outside of his franchise, but the primary connection for his property and the MCU as a whole will likely be a relationship indicated in the trailers with Dr. Strange’s assistant. Wong.
But who is Shang-Chi? He is an original Marvel estate whose idea was conceived in 1972, but was born from the estate of the English novelist Sax Rohmer. Marvel acquires the rights to Rohmer’s villain Fu Manchu and throws Shang-Chi into the mix as a previously unknown son of the villain. At the time, Marvel was trying to take advantage of the booming kung-fu market in the United States. After they could not do it Kung Fuof Warner Communications, they entered into an agreement with Rohemers Estate to bring their character to life. Marvel not only acquired the rights to Fu Manchu, but also temporarily, but also several other supporting characters, especially Sir Sir Denis Nayland Smith, dr. James Petrie and Fah Lo Suee. Let’s just stop here now to make something clear. The upcoming film introduces the real Mandarin, not the iteration Ben Kingsley plays in it Iron Man 3, Which refers to the Marvel One Shot: All Hail the King. This is important because the film places The Mandarin as the father of Shang-Chi, while he is not his father in the core films. Marvel likes to do this thing where they sometimes change things, either to make the game more interesting or to avoid licensing issues. We actually see how it is actively played out before the eyes with the Hulk. Legally, the MCU cannot create a solo-Hulk movie, but they can use it as part of an ensemble, just like in The Avengers, en Thor: Ragnarokwhich brings us back to where we were. After the agreement between Sax Rohemers Estate was established, it was found that Fu Manchu is only an alias for the father of Shang-Chis, whose real name is known as Zheng Zu. Shang-Chi: Master of Kung Fuending with 125 editions, the character has experienced a bit of revival, picked up 1990, 1998, 2002, and was recently even written by CM Punk himself, Mr. Phil Brooks.
While Shang-Chi has no real superpowers, he is considered in the comics to be one of the best non-super-powered fighters that exists. Ares even mentioned that his mastery in battle enabled him to go to a foot with a god. Although he did not possess superpowers, he mastered the techniques his fathers used ten rings. On top of that, he has access to chi to help him exceed the normal physical limits, like Goku, but who knows if his power level is over 9,000 or not? He is a master in hand-to-hand combat as well as weapon battles that include swords, personnel and nunchaku.
So what did Shang-Chi do in the comics? One of his lows happened early when he joined Mi-6. After several adventures, all aimed at abandoning his fathers’ plans, Shang-Chi sees his father, Fu Manchu, killed. It fills Shang-Chi with guilt, as he was always looking for his father. Shortly thereafter, he severed ties with his allies to focus on a life of seclusion as a fisherman in China. This is where he stays until he is called to action again. He rejoins his one-time allies to fight the terrorist group Argus. It is this battle that Shang-Chi begins on his climb to his various highlights in the Marvel Comics. In the heroic era, it was Beast of the X-Men that informed Shang-Chi of his fathers’ true identity as Zheng Zu and not Fu Manchu. This led to Shang-Chi joining forces with the Secret Avengers to track down his father as well as the Shadow Council. During the confrontation, Steve Rogers is beaten by John Steele and Shang-Chi is brought to his father, Zheng Zu, who has been revived by the Council (yes). As all hope is lost and Shang-Chi faces an immanent doom, the Avengers and Moon Knight (more about him in a future episode) invade to save the day, disrupt the ritual and defeat the master of Kung Fu te red. These events lead Shang-Chi to join the Secret Avengers where he stays until the group defeats Arnim Zola. Zola, as you may remember, is from the first two Captain America movies. If you ask where he was in the second one, he’s the computer.
Shang-Chi has also assisted Spider-Man several times. Most importantly, Madame Web asked him to train the Wall Crawler. This training led to Spider Man creating his own martial art, The Way of the Spider. Perhaps more importantly, however, during the Spider islandarc, the entire population of Manhattan, including Shang-Chi, is infected with the Spider virus that has given everyone the powers that Spider Man possesses. At one point, Iron Fist and other Spider-Man attack wannabes and Shang-Chi, after previously working and practicing with Spider-Man, that Peter Parker was the real Spider-Man. He had to vouch for a nearby Peter Parker as the fight escalated. During the last battles, Shang-Chi turns into a spider, an event he foresaw after seeing this transformation in his nightmares. He is then healed by Iron Fist and returns to a normal state in time to drop a building on top of the demon Ai Apaec, a move that makes him unfit long enough for the Avengers to arrest him.
More in line with recent events, Shang-Chi has had an encounter with the Mad Titan, Thanos himself. In a battle with a group of creatures called The Builders, Shang-Chi and other heroes of the earth work with the Galactic Council (not of Star Wars)and takes a stand against The Mad Titan and its allies. When some of their allies are captured, Chang-Chi picks up some energy sticking out of gloves and forms a task force that includes Black Widow, Spider-Woman and others. It is thanks to this intervention with his task force that prevents his allies from being destroyed. After the defeat of The Builders, the team takes the fight to earth to face the threatening power of Thanos. Here, Shang-Chi and his force serve as more than an infiltration team and sneak in to eliminate Thanos’ first line of defense, The Peak. During the mission, they run into Black Dwarf which is a little too much for Shang-Chi. While Shang-Chi and Black Widow can send the full security detail for Black Dwarf, Black Dwarf does manage to overwhelm it, that is until Gladiator, Ronan the prosecutor (yes, the dance fight of GOTG) and help other board members defeat the overwhelming giant. This chain of events is a major blow to the attempted domination by Thanos. Shang-Chi then goes to Madripoor with his new allies to continue their adventures.
So the big question is: how will they pick up the ten rings? The trailers suggest that the rings will help the off-roaders to give power and abilities in a way similar to the rings of Fu Manchu and Zheng Zu in the comics. The ten rings themselves serve as a definite recall to the organization we have known about since 2008Iron Man. Between this call back and the abomination appears, Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten RingsIt certainly looks like he wants to take a ride along the memory to the early days of the MCU using facets from the first two films. One thing is for sure, this film is the first of three new delivery films to end the year for the MCU. We find out how everything connects to the past and present of the MCU Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings is now in theaters.