Marvel Studios had been wanting to make Shang-Chi and The Legend of the Ten Rings for almost 20 years, and it wasn’t until Destin Daniel Cretton boarded the project as director that things finally got underway. Cretton created a story with his fellow screenwriters that brought Shang-Chi’s world to life on the big screen, and in an impressive way.
Overall, everything Cretton and the studio wanted to do with Shang-Chi was accomplished. There’s room for more stories and possibly Shang-Chi sequels, but whether or not Cretton returns to helm those future movies remains to be seen.
Ahead of Shang-Chi‘s release, Cretton spoke to Screen Rant about the action sequences, properly showcasing the martial arts, and what he hopes the impact will be with audiences.
Screen Rant: One of the most talked-about and praised elements of this film so far is the action. But there’s also two types of action; there’s one that’s more mystical with the people of Ta-Lo, and then another one that’s more grounded with Shang-Chi and the Death Dealer. What was your approach like with both styles of action? And was there anything you were trying to incorporate or anything you were trying to avoid?
Destin Daniel Cretton: It was an important story-point to have those two different types of martial arts styles sung throughout the journey of Shang-Chi in this movie. One style is obviously from his mother, and then the other, more forceful traditional martial arts style is from his dad. What was really important to us was making sure that those styles felt right and authentic. Brad Allan, our stunt coordinator and the head of our stunt team, put together a pretty amazing team of choreographers that had their own personal experience in those types of movements. Some came from Jackie Chan’s camp – he had a choreographer from mainland China who took a lot of inspiration from movies like Jet Li’s Tai Chi Master to create these scenes that you could describe as elegant and beautiful and even emotional. To be able to see those two drastically different types of styles come together and feel cohesive in this movie was really exciting.
Right now, things are a bit different with Marvel and their Phase 4. It’s no longer about setting up direct sequels for movies; it’s more about one character moving from one film to TV, or from one film to another character’s film. So for you, in making this – I’m not even sure if you would come back for a sequel – but where would you like to see the character go next?
Destin Daniel Cretton: I think, by the end of this movie, there are some pretty clear arrows pointing in the directions that we would love to take the character – and not only Shang-Chi, but I’m really excited to see all of these characters start to interact with the other members of the MCU and go to places that we haven’t gone before. We’re all very excited at the doors that were open because of this movie.
There are a lot of moving parts in this film – there’s Shang-Chi’s story, Katy’s family, the people of Ta-Lo, the Ten Rings – there’s a lot going on and it all comes together quite well. But in making it, was there anything you realized wouldn’t have worked and you had to drop the idea? Or was there something you wished you could’ve included in some way?
Destin Daniel Cretton: I mean, the list of things you drop on the editing floor in every movie is just so long. It would just be boring to go through all of it. But yeah, the process of finding the movie in the edit, to me, is the most important part of making a movie; it’s when you really hone in on the performances, it’s when you really find the essence of the characters and their relationships. And the truth is, the things that we end up cutting typically aren’t things that I even imagine are in the movie anymore, so I don’t regret them at all, because the movie that we discovered just feels like the movie. But there will be a number of pretty fun and exciting deleted scenes that you’ll be able to see whenever those things are released.
Could you give me an example of one?
Destin Daniel Cretton: Of a deleted scene? I’m trying to… I honestly cannot think of any right now, I’m sorry.
That’s totally fine; onto a different topic. The reactions to this film so far have been quite effusive. What does all of that mean to you and what kind of impact would you like to see from this film?
Destin Daniel Cretton: We made this movie with Marvel fans at the front of our mind, from the very beginning to the end. So to be able to go to a premiere that was packed full of people who were eagerly staring at all the details of our movie and they understood how it pieces all together to the bigger MCU, to hear the reaction from those fans in that premiere was really special and very exciting. I can’t wait for more people to see it, and see what the reaction is.
Even more important than the reaction, I get such a kick out of how much interaction there is between Marvel fans and the movies. It’s such a unique relationship between the filmmakers and the fans because there’s so much more dialogue that happens between the fans and the movies than most movies that are coming out. So to be a part of it is really exciting.
This film has been in some stage of development for many years, and I know you weren’t part of that the whole time, but at what point did it finally get underway? What was the impetus to getting it into pre-production and production?
Destin Daniel Cretton: I wasn’t there for all of that previous development, so I don’t really know. When I was brought on, we developed this idea from scratch. There wasn’t a script that was sitting there for us to start rewriting on. So when I came on, I was writing in the room with Dave Callaham and our producer, Jonathan Schwartz; we were kind of starting from a blank page and deciding what this movie was going to be.