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11 Things You May Not Know About Marvel's Shang-Chi

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When Iron Man first hit the big screen in 2008, the character was considered to be a perennial B-lister among Marvel properties, being outshone by the Fantastic Four, Spider-Man, and the X-Men, and it certainly wasn't a sure-fire bet that the Marvel Cinematic Universe would grow as large and ubiquitous as it has. In a similar fashion, with the introduction of Shang-Chi to the MCU, a character that hasn't often been at the forefront of the Marvel Comics Universe is entering the conversation surrounding Marvel's biggest players. Here are some interesting things about Shang-Chi that you might not know to help prepare for Shang-Chi's entrance into the MCU, from his powers, abilities, and feats to the somewhat controversial history surrounding the character.

  • 1

    Shang-Chi's Origin And His Connection To Bruce Lee

    Marvel created Shang-Chi in late 1972, during a time in which the United States was amidst a martial arts craze. Coined "Chopsocky" by the film trade magazine Variety, the martial arts-focused zeitgeist was driven by the popularity of American television shows, such as The Green Hornet (1966) and Kung Fu (1972), as well as the success of Hong Kong action cinema films in the US box office, such as King Boxer (1972), The Big Boss (1971), and Lady Whirlwind (1972). Marvel originally intended to acquire the rights of and adapt the television series Kung Fu, but the show's owner denied permission. This didn't stop Marvel from trying to capitalize on the US's martial arts craze, however, which led to the development of Shang-Chi, whose visual appearance was modeled after Bruce Lee, one of the premier figures of the Chopsocky movement.

  • 2

    Shang-Chi's Father's Impact In The MCU

    In the Marvel Cinematic Universe, the character Fu Manchu was replaced by the Mandarin (played by Tony Leung) as Shang-Chi's father. This reimagining was primarily due to concerns about the original character's problematic origins and representation of a Chinese character. In the Marvel Comics Universe, the Mandarin is one of Iron Man's archnemeses, and wields ten rings made from alien technology that give him various superpowers, such as rearranging the atoms of a substance, emitting and projecting various forms of energy, and magnifying psionic energy, allowing him to create illusions and control the minds of his targets.

    Although the Mandarin would not make his introduction into the MCU until Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings, his presence has been felt since the MCU's very onset. The Ten Rings, a villainous organization that has seemingly been active for hundreds of years, was responsible for the kidnapping of Tony Stark in Iron Man that led to the development of the Iron Man armor, and helped fund Ivan Vanko's attempt at Tony's life in Monaco in Iron Man 2. In Iron Man 3, Aldrich Killian's think tank A.I.M. co-opted the Ten Ring's name, and hired Trevor Slattery to pose as the Mandarin. It was later revealed in the online short "Long Live The King," that the Mandarin and the Ten Rings were separate from the Killian's organization, and its agents took Slattery as punishment for impersonating their leader. The Ten Rings made another appearance in Ant-Man, in which a member of the organization met with Darren Cross as a potential buyer for the Yellowjacket suit. 

  • 3

    Shang-Chi's Father

    After Marvel was unable to acquire the rights to the television series Kung Fu, they pivoted towards acquiring the characters from Sax Rohmer's pulp novels, most prominently the villain, Dr. Fu Manchu. These characters would serve as the supporting cast surrounding Shang-Chi. Born in the Honan province of China, Shang-Chi was born to Fu Manchu and a white American woman. The future superhero was unaware of his father's evil nature and his goal of world conquest until he was sent on a mission to take out one of Fu Manchu's enemies. After completing the mission, Shang-Chi met Sir Denis Nayland Smith, another character from Rohmer's novels, who eventually revealed the truth behind Fu Manchu's actions to Shang-Chi, thus beginning the bitter struggle between father and son.

  • 4

    Shang-Chi's Abilities

    Shang-Chi's martial arts prowess are at the highest level in the Marvel Comics Universe, allowing him to beat even superhuman and enhanced individuals. His strength often varies depending on who is writing him, however, he is generally known as the greatest empty-handed fighter and kung-fu practitioner alive. At one point, Ares, a deity that stands toe-to-toe with the likes of Thor and Hercules, has acknowledged Shang-Chi as one of the few mortals who can hold their own against a god without using magic. 

    Shang-Chi has displayed a mastery of chi, the same ability that allows Iron Fist to reach superhuman levels of strength and athleticism. Althought Shang-Chi originally had no superpowers, he has gained them on occasion, one of the most notable being the ability to create an unlimited number of duplicates of himself after his exposure to cosmic radiation. He has also briefly held the powers of and abilities of Spider-Man, and wielded Pym Particles to grow in size, however, both of these powers were only temporary.