The MCU is gearing up to introduce a new hero with the release of Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings, and here’s everything to know about the movie’s release date, cast, story details, and trailer information. Directed by Destin Daniel Cretton, Shang-Chi marks the 25th installment of the cinematic franchise and the second feature film in Phase 4. More notably, the focus on comic book character Shang-Chi is set to become the first Marvel film to feature an Asian lead.
Shang-Chi (aka the “Master of Kung Fu”) made his Marvel Comics debut in 1973 before forming affiliations to the Avengers, Marvel Knights, and Heroes for Hire. Known for his expertise in various forms of martial arts, Shang-Chi has a history of being one of the strongest non-superhumans presented in the comics, at least in the majority of his storylines. The idea of developing a movie based on Shang-Chi was first thrown around in the early ’00s, but legitimate plans didn’t come to fruition until almost two decades later.
As Marvel Studios vowed to diversify its lead characters throughout the MCU, a Shang-Chi adaptation was fast-tracked. The plan was to explore Asian and Asian-American cultural themes while incorporating a predominantly Asian cast and crew. The film will debut after Black Widow, becoming the first newcomer in Phase 4, and sporting a striking red costume that looks to be one of the coolest in recent MCU history. Here’s what else viewers can expect from Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings.
Filming for Shang-Chi commenced in February 2020 with plans to shoot in Australia and New South Wales. Shortly after, production was halted due to Coronavirus. The cast and crew weren’t able to reconvene until August. By then, the originally planned release date of February 12, 2021, to coincide with the first day of the Chinese New Year, was pushed to May 2021. The pandemic shuffled premiere dates yet again, pushing Shang-Chi to July 2021 before falling to September 3, 2021. The title will be the second of four MCU installments that make up Phase 4’s 2021 slate. With Coronavirus cases surging, some have wondered if Shang-Chi would be shifted to a simultaneous Disney+ release, but Marvel has confirmed it’ll remain a theatrical exclusive release for the first 45 days. Whether it will release at all in China remains unresolved.
At the center of the upcoming MCU project is Simu Liu, who portrays the titular martial artist Shang-Chi. In the comics, Shang-Chi’s father was once Fu Manchu. Without the rights to the character, Shang-Chi’s father is depicted as Wenwu (aka “The Mandarin”), played by Tony Leung. Awkwafina also stars in the film as Shang-Chi’s close friend, Katy. The rest of the notable cast will be rounded out by Fala Chen, Florian Munteanu, Ronny Chieng, Michelle Yeoh, and Meng’er Zhang.
Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings will take elements from the legendary comic book character but present it through a modern-day lens to avoid negative stereotypes. Shang-Chi, a martial artist trained by the Ten Rings organization since he was a child, will be drawn back into the group as he’s forced to confront his past. His father, Wenwu, is the current leader of the Ten Rings, which in Marvel Comics was a terrorist organization hell-bent on destroying world peace. The Ten Rings have been around in the MCU since the very beginning, seeing as they were behind Tony Stark’s kidnapping in Iron Man. Unlike the fake Mandarin from Iron Man 3, Shang-Chi will finally introduce the Ten Rings’ true leader. By diving into his past, Shang-Chi will also be forced to unveil his true powers to close allies like Katy.
Marvel released the first trailer for Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings on April 19, 2021. It provides a first-look at Shang-Chi in action, including insight into his past with the Ten Rings. The trailer also unveils the MCU’s real Mandarin, in addition to other noteworthy characters like Death Dealer, a masked menace Shang-Chi faces off with. A full-length second trailer was released in July 2021, timed to coincide with the release of Black Widow. It featured even more looks at Shang-Chi and the Mandarin in action, and also shocked MCU fans by featuring an unexplained battle between Wong and the Abomination.