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Everything You Need To Know About Shang-Chi

by Kristy Anderson 22 days ago in pop culture

Get to know Marvel's next big hero.

Credit: Marvel.

Fans were surprised and delighted with the recent appearance of the first trailer for Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings, in honour of star Simu Liu's birthday. Liu is set to star as Shang-Chi, a gifted martial artist who's past comes back to haunt him when the criminal organisation Ten Rings, led by his Father Wenwu/The Mandarin, track him to San Francisco.

A character with a long history in the comics, the new movie is allowing him a chance to step up to the big leagues. Here's everything you need to know about Shang-Chi.

Changing Plans

Throughout the 70s and 80s, alongside their beloved stable of existing characters, Marvel made quite a business of making licensed comics based on characters belonging to other companies, including Godzilla, Transformers, and Star Wars. In 1972, Marvel was eager to develop a comic based on the TV series Kung Fu, starring David Carradine. Unfortunately, they were unable to secure the rights seeing as the show was owned by Warner Communications, the parent company of Marvel's main rival, DC comics.

Despite the failure to secure rights to Kung Fu, Marvel still wished to create a Martial Arts focused comic. As a back up plan, the company purchased rights to Sax Rohmer's novels starring the villain Dr. Fu Manchu.

The Birth of Shang Chi

Credit: Marvel.

After securing the rights to Fu Manchu as a starting point, Marvel began developing the character of Shang Chi. Shang Chi was the son of Fu Manchu and a an American woman specially chosen as a genetic match in the hopes of producing a strong child. From birth, Fu Manchu had Shang Chi trained in the ways of Martial Arts so that he could one day use him as a tool in his evil plans. Shang Chi, however, was unaware of this, raised to believe that his Father was a humanitarian. As an adult, Shang Chi was sent to assassinate Dr. James Petrie, an old enemy of his Father's. After successfully killing Petrie, he was confronted by Sir Denis Nayland Smith, the hero of Rohmer's novels. Smith is eventually able to convince Shang Chi of Fu Manchu's true nature, after which he vows to end his Father's evil schemes.

Shang Chi joins a team put together by Nayland Smith, including MI-6 agents Black Jack Tarr, Clive Weston, and Leiko Wu, to take down Fu Manchu. During this time, Shang Chi would regularly star in one-off 'Team-Up' titles alongside other well-known Marvel Martial Artists including White Tiger, Colleen Wing, and Iron Fist.

In later Shang Chi stories, after Marvel's rights to Rohmer's novels lapsed, characters such as Fu Manchu, Nayland Smith, and Petrie were replaced, renamed, or phased out. In a 2010 storyline, Shang Chi learns that his Father was an evil sorceror who used the name 'Fu Manchu' as an alias, and that his real name was Zheng Zu.

Heroes For Hire

Credit: Marvel.

After his own series ended, Shang Chi slipped out of the spotlight and into Marvel's large cast of supporting players. His next major appearance came when he joined the 2006 incarnation of 'Heroes For Hire', alongside Misty Knight, Colleen Wing, Tarantula, Humbug, Black Cat, and Paladin. As a friend of Misty and Colleen rather than a former criminal/anti-hero, Shang Chi is one of the more trustworthy members of the group.

Credit: Marvel

The team forms during the original 'Civil War' event, and while they officially fall in Iron Man's Pro-Registration camp, Misty is shown to have some contact with Captain America. At one point, the Heroes For Hire track Cap down, and while Misty simply wants to talk, Paladin betrays the group and tries to turn Cap in. Paladin's plan is thwarted by Shang Chi, who defeats him and dresses him in Cap's uniform. The team then allow 'Cap' to be taken into custody by S.H.I.E.L.D, allowing the real Cap and his allies a chance to escape. The Heroes for Hire's's faith in the pro-registration side is further shaken after Team Cap member Goliath is killed by Iron Man's clone of Thor.

The Heroes For Hire later become involved in the 'World War Hulk' event, during which they are betrayed by Humbug. Shang Chi eventually kills Humbug, partly as revenge for Humbug torturing Tarantula, and partly a mercy killing, because Humbug had been mutated into a grotesque monster. Shaken by the events leading to Humbug's death, Shang Chi leaves the team, taking Tarantula with him to seek help for her. The team soon completely dissolves.

Agents Of Atlas

Credit: Marvel.

After briefly serving on a team known as The Protectors, Shang Chi is recruited by Jimmy Woo to join a new incarnation of the Agents of Atlas. The team includes Silk, Amadeus Cho, and a number of other Asian superheroes. The Agents of Atlas are quickly drawn into the 'War Of The Realms' event, tasked with preventing Sindr, the Queen Of Cinders from invading the Asian continent. The team are instrumental in helping Captain Marvel halt Sindr's forces at the great wall of China. The team later heads to Shanghai, where Shang Chi aids Wolverine, Hawkeye, and The Warriors Three in defeating and capturing a group of Fire Goblins.

With Jimmy Woo having played a major supporting role in WandaVision, some fans believe that Marvel may be setting up for an Agents Of Atlas series on Disney Plus.

The Five-Weapons Society

Credit: Marvel

In 2020, Shang Chi received a new solo title, likely intended to boost the character's profile before the release of Shang Chi and the Legend Of The Ten Rings. After departing the Agents Of Atlas team, Shang Chi settles in San Francisco in the hopes of living an ordinary life for a while. Unfortunately, his hopes for normalcy are soon dashed when he is tracked down by his half siblings, Brother Sabre/Takeshi and Sister Dagger/Esme, just in time to rescue him from assassins. Sabre and Dagger reveal that Shang Chi was chosen by the soul of his Father, Zheng Zu, to serve as the new Supreme Commander of the ancient Five Weapons Society. The current Commander, Sister Hammer, wishes to kill Shang Chi to secure her own rule.

Aided by Sabre and Dagger, Shang Chi eventually begins training to take his rightful place as Supreme Commander, believing that it was his responsibility to purge the Five Weapons Society of Zheng Zu's dark influence and guide it towards a more positive future.

As both begin with Shang Chi seeking a normal life in San Francisco, at least some of the plot of the upcoming movie may have been inspired by this comic, or Vice-versa.

Shang Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings hits theaters in September 2021.

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Kristy Anderson
Kristy Anderson
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