When reports came out that Marvel Studios was putting together a Shang-Chi film within the Marvel Cinematic Universe, longtime fans of the character celebrated the arrival of the best fighter in the Marvel Universe. Everyone else, meanwhile, wondered, "Who is Shang-Chi?"
The premier martial artist of Marvel Comics, frequently referred to as the "Master of Kung Fu," may not be a household name, but he's been around since 1973 when he was created by Steve Englehart, Al Milgrom, and Jim Starlin. Since then, Shang-Chi has maintained a fairly steady presence in the publisher's pages. Now, he's taking center stage in his own superhero origin story, Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings, part of the MCU's Phase Four, adding yet another hero to Marvel Studios' already impressive cast of characters.
Shang-Chi Spends Time In Steve Rogers's Covert 'Secret Avengers'
Shang-Chi is set to join the Avengers and other heroes of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, but he's already spent time on a couple of Avengers rosters in the pages of Marvel Comics. Shang-Chi's first stint as one of Earth's Mightiest Heroes comes as a member of Steve Rogers's Secret Avengers team, a covert group dedicated to running secret missions to save the world.
The humble yet formidable Shang-Chi is a perfect candidate for a squad whose members are forced to perform their superheroics outside the typical Avengers spotlight, and he serves the Secret Avengers well during numerous all-existence-threatening events.
He Joins The Real Avengers And Helps Them Fight A Space War
In addition to working with the Secret Avengers, Shang-Chi also spends time as a member of the proper Avengers roster during a period when the team's roster had swollen to enormous proportions. While a member of the mainstream Avengers, Shang-Chi fights in an interplanetary space conflict during the events of Infinity, and he's there to help again when the Marvel Multiverse starts to implode in the lead-up to Secret Wars.
Shang-Chi's time with the Avengers coincides with some of the most important happenings in the team's existence, and he manages to stand out on a roster composed of legends, deities, and cosmic entities.
Shang-Chi Can Go Toe-To-Toe With The Children Of Thanos
Fans of the Marvel Cinematic Universe met the children of Thanos in 2018's Avengers: Infinity War, but the comic book Avengers meet the Black Order during the events of Infinity. During the epic crossover, Shang-Chi and the Avengers travel to space to take part in an interplanetary conflict - and Thanos uses the opportunity to overrun Earth.
As the Avengers return home, they're forced to face off against the legions of Thanos, and Shang-Chi finds himself in a one-on-one confrontation with Black Dwarf, the behemoth renamed Cull Obsidian for Infinity War. Using only his martial arts prowess, Shang-Chi holds back Black Dwarf long enough for reinforcements to arrive - a testament to his technique and strength of will.
While An Avenger, Shang-Chi Gains The Ability To Replicate Himself
Traditionally, Shang-Chi has no superpowers - he's just the Marvel Universe's premier martial artist. As an Avenger, though, he comes into contact with all manner of cosmic energies, and one such encounter grants him a significant upgrade.
While exploring the site of an "Origin Bomb" sent to Earth by the mysterious Ex Nihilo, Shang-Chi taps into its powers of reproduction and gains the ability to replicate himself dozens of times, creating a veritable army of Shang-Chis. Despite his new gift, the hero doesn't use this power unless it's absolutely necessary.