This September, the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) is set to expand with the reveal of the Marvel Studios blockbuster Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings. Scroll down for insight on the latest action-packed Marvel epic.
What is the story?
In the words of the official synopsis: "Marvel Studios' Shang-Chi and The Legend of The Ten Rings stars Simu Liu as Shang-Chi, who must confront the past he thought he left behind when he is drawn into the web of the mysterious Ten Rings organization."
"There are many iterations of Shang-Chi throughout the comics, but there was always a core relationship between him and his father that was extremely complicated — and that was something I really related to," explained director Destin Daniel Cretton. "That was a big part of what I pitched. Using the movie to explore the psychology of a kid who was trained to be a killer when he was young. Now that he has broken out of that, how does he learn to redefine himself in the world and find the balance of what his relationship with his father should be?"
Where does the movie fit into the Marvel Cinematic Universe?
It's anyone's guess at this stage. Judging from outward appearances, the film is a standalone Marvel Phase Four adventure, the first of the studio's films to be led by an Asian superhero. The trailer doesn't give any indications as to where it interlocks with the Marvel chronology; chances are, we'll only find this out with a post-credits cameo reveal. Given the preponderance of magic arts in the trailer, perhaps we can expect a degree of overlap with the timeline of Doctor Strange and its forthcoming sequel, In the Multiverse of Madness.
What did we learn from the latest trailer?
Martial arts, mystic arts and a whole lot more – click here to read the Shang-Chi trailer breakdown.
Who are the characters featuring in the film?
Schooled in martial arts by his father Wenwu, Shang-Chi turns his back on his villainous destiny and takes up a new life in the United States. However, he cannot outrun his past and is soon drawn into a dangerous moment of reckoning with his father. Shang-Chi is played by Simu Liu, a Canadian actor and martial artist of Chinese descent. This makes him the first actor with Asian lineage to take the lead in a Marvel Studios movie.
"The most exciting thing about stepping into this character was that his backstory has never been told before," Simu Liu explained. "We know Peter Parker, who was bitten by a radioactive spider, and he loses his uncle," continued Liu. "Shang-Chi's story is very much unknown to most of the world, so we had a lot of freedom and creative liberty to make it the way that we wanted to."
The character known as Wenwu grows into the feared Mandarin, the head of a deadly international crime syndicate known as the 10 Rings. Wenwu harboured a desire that his son Shang-Chi would follow in his footsteps; however, what instead ensues is an action-packed conflict with a decidedly personal air. The Mandarin is portrayed by Tony Leung, one of Hong Kong's most respected and versatile performers who is perhaps best known to Western audiences for his role in Wong Kar-wai's sumptuous In the Mood for Love.
Not much is known about Wenwu's mysterious masked sidekick, although he takes an active role in teaching the young Shang-Chi about the power of the mystic arts. According to Den of Geek, the history of Death Dealer is "tied to a mostly-forgotten three-issue 1982 comic book arc that started with Master of Kung-Fu #115. The London-set storyline initially depicted the character as a former MI6 agent named Li Ching-Lin, who was ousted from the organization due to his brutal methods".
Xialing is Shang-Chi's estranged sister, although the exact nature of their partnership in the movie is unclear. She's played by screen newcomer Meng'er Zhang.
Judging from the pre-release publicity stills, Jon Jon becomes a valuable ally to Shang-Chi when he relocates to America. Jon Jon is played by Crazy Rich Asians actor Ronny Chieng.
Once again, we don't much about the character of Katy, although it's evident that she will act as the comic relief. This plays brilliantly to the strengths of actor Awkwafina who stole the show in the aforementioned Crazy Rich Asians opposite Ronny Chieng and Michelle Yeoh. (Check out our interview with Awkwafina and Ken Jeong.)
Creed II actor Florian Munteanu plays the aptly named Razor Fist, a ruthless assassin with strategically placed blades who is sent to kill Shang-Chi.
Actor Michelle Yeoh (Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon) describes the character of Jiang Nan as "the guardian of a mythical city". Yeoh previously played Ravager Aleta Ogord in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2. People are already speculating that this could be the fabled kingdom of K'un Lun, which is guarded by Iron Fist. Could the Shang-Chi movie be about to showcase a crossover with the Iron Fist TV show?
When is the movie released in Cineworld cinemas?
Marvel Studios' Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings is released in Cineworld on 3rd September.