Warning: Contains SPOILERS for Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings.
Like most new MCU movies, Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings introduces multiple new villains, and here’s every foe the Master of Kung Fu faces – or at least engages with – in his Marvel Cinematic Universe debut. Marvel Studios confirmed plans for Shang-Chi to have a solo film at San Diego Comic-Con 2019. This is where director Destin Daniel Cretton was officially announced as the lead creative and when Kevin Feige introduced Simu Liu as the titular martial arts expert. Although Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings was originally given a February 2021 release date, it finally hit cinemas in September 2021.
Marvel managed to keep such a tight lid on Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings that it wrapped filming with only three confirmed cast members, and the biggest secrets – the villain and a certain Phase 2 extended cameo – were kept away from MCU fans until release. Unlike most of the MCU movies, the limited amount of set photos and videos didn’t give fans many unofficial looks at the film. This left fans to learn more about the movie through toys and early promotional materials. That, of course, changed after the release of the first Shang-Chi trailer and now the film’s release has revealed all of its secrets and how it links to the rest of the MCU.
And while Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings is a personal story of one family’s conflict, there’s a grander narrative at play that takes in multiple Marvel villains and heroes. The rogues’ gallery is one of the biggest of any stand-alone origin movie, which fits with Marvel’s attempt not to downplay just how powerful Shang-Chi can be. Here’s a rundown of every foe he faces in Shang-Chi.
The main villain of Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings is Wenwu, played by legendary actor Tony Leung. The so-called Mandarin is Shang-Chi’s father and the powerful leader of the Ten Rings organization. Crucially, Shang-Chi retcons his name, laughing openly at Aldrich Killian’s choice of “The Mandarin” as being named after a chicken dish. Wenwu is an amalgamation of different characters from Marvel Comics, including Fu Manchu and the original Mandarin. Fu Manchu was originally Shang-Chi’s father in the source material, while Mandarin was a major villain for Iron Man powered by ten rings. Both characters have controversial depictions in the comics, so Marvel Studios seemingly chose to take the best elements of both to create Wenwu.
The first act sees Wenwu bringing Shang-Chi back into a life he thought he left behind ten years ago. Wenwu is shown to be extremely skilled in combat and is even more formidable of an opponent with the help of his ten mystical armbands. The comics traditionally portray these artifacts as finger rings that are advanced pieces of technology. Even after Shang-Chi, it’s a little unclear how Wenwu’s redesigned ten rings work in the MCU, but they appear to be a blend of alien technology and magic and that source will very much be a thing for the MCU’s future to explore more.
If it wasn’t clear based on Wenwu’s inclusion or Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings‘ title, the movie will prominently feature the Ten Rings organization. The Ten Rings have a long history in the MCU of working in the background, but this is the first time they are at the center. The group was introduced at the very beginning of Iron Man and was hired by Obadiah Stane to kidnap Tony Stark, but whether that was indeed the same group or another false-front remains to be seen. The MCU later used the Ten Rings to get Anton Vanko a fake ID, steal Darren Cross’ Yellowjacket formula, and broke Trevor Slattery out of prison after making a mockery of Mandarin.
The version of the Ten Rings featured here is, of course, quite different from what the MCU has shown in the past. Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings provides a little more of a look at their operations and hierarchy, though they are ostensibly still just footsoldiers serving a powerful master. The film also fills in the gaps of how the Ten Rings came to power, though not how Wenwu managed to recruit such devout followers.
In one of Shang-Chi’s biggest surprises, Trevor Slattery (Sir Ben Kingsley) plays a significant role, helping Shang-Chi, Katy and Xialing escape from Wenwu’s stronghold and guiding them to Ta Lo (by somehow making himself Morris’ interpreter). While his status as a villain in typical terms is a grey area, Slattery was an instrument of evil, who did end up being sent to prison for his crimes (where Wenwu’s people broke him out). His supporting role is a lot of fun and a great way to retcon Iron Man 3‘s twist tastefully.
Razor Fist is another villain in Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings brought to life from the comics. He’s portrayed by Florian Munteanu (Creed II) in the movie and ranks highly in the Ten Rings organization. His costume has the group’s logo in the center of his chest, and he commands Wenwu’s soldiers on the ground. As expected with a name like Razor Fist, at least one of the character’s arms is a giant sword. This makes him a formidable opponent for Shang-Chi, and he tests the Master of Kung Fu’s abilities very early in the movie as “Shaun’s” secrets are uncovered. Douglas and William Scott have both been Razor Fist in the comics and battled Shang-Chi, but Douglas has had the longer story. This has included him fighting Hawkeye, Elektra, and Captain America, and he even managed to defeat Wolverine once.
Another surprisingly minor villain Shang-Chi will face is called Death Dealer. The mysterious member of the Ten Rings organization is masked throughout and covers up the individual’s identity. He’s played by Andy Le. Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings‘ shows him to be extremely skilled as a fighter and he’s employed by Wenwu as Shang-Chi’s personal trainer who beats his weaknesses out of him. The comics version of Death Dealer, known as Li Ching-Lin, was a double agent for Fu Manchu inside MI6 and fought Shang-Chi multiple times before dying.
As revealed by the trailers, The Incredible Hulk’s Abomination turns up in the Macau underground fighting tournament, facing off against Wong. His role is brief, and there’s a suggestion that he’s now working with Wong on training for some unknown future arc, but he’s still a prisoner on the Raft and he’s obviously not been forgiven for his rampage in The Incredible Hulk. Tim Roth returned to voice the hulking bad guy in Shang-Chi.
As the film’s events unfold, it becomes clear that a bigger threat lies behind Wenwu, as it’s revealed he is the tragic puppet of the Dweller-in-Darkness, an other-realm demon that feeds on souls and was responsible for the original fall of Ta Lo and the massacre of its people. In that invasion, the Great Protector emerged and fought the winged monstrosity off – which is repeated in Shang-Chi, of course – but Wenwu’s stubborn desire to meet his dead wife once more leads to the soul sucker and his personal army of smaller bat-like drones to come through the dragon scale blockade on the portal to their world.
Meng’er Zhang’s Xialing is not initially presented as a villain, despite her animosity towards Shang-Chi. In fact, Shang-Chi’s sister becomes one of his closest comrades at arms in the war in Ta Lo. She’s listed here because of the twist in Shang-Chi’s post-credits scene, which sets her up as the leader of the reformed Ten Rings organization. That presumably is not going to be a humanitarian group, setting Xialing as an interpretation of Shang-Chi’s comics sister Zhen Bao Yu (one of his five sisters in the source material, in fact).
Another tie back to Iron Man 3 sees an extremist soldier briefly appear in one of the fights in Shang-Chi‘s underground tournament in Macau. That makes little sense given Aldrich Killian’s removal from the MCU, but suggests, rather scarily, that someone was able to harness Killian’s technology and stabilize it (other than Tony Stark, of course). Could this be a hint of the return of a Stark villin in Armor Wars, perhaps?