Shang-Chi and The Legend of The Ten Rings: Everything We Know


Marvel is finally bringing its first Asian lead to the big screen. Shang-Chi and The Legend of The Ten Rings, the next chapter in the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s extensive Phase Four rollout, is headed for theaters on September 3—and if the trailer’s any indication, we’ll be treated to be one of the better action offerings of the mega-franchise.

That’s largely due to the star at Shang-Chi‘s helm: Simu Liu, a 32-year-old Chinese Canadian actor who describes himself as a “self-taught guy who likes to do flips in his backyard,” put in a tremendous amount of work to learn martial arts for the film. But, more importantly, he saw the project as much more than a chance to make a kung-fu movie; playing a superhero was a chance to cement his own story.

“I am that person that struggled with my identity my whole life,” Liu told Men’s Health in 2021. “I am that person that’s always felt like he wasn’t enough. And those [experiences] are more core to Shang-Chi’s character than his ability to punch people.”

Here’s everything we know about Shang-Chi and The Legend of The Ten Rings, from its updated release to its new cast members.

What is the story about?

The character Shang-Chi (pronounced “shong-chee”) was originally introduced in the comics during the 1970s. At the time, he was a painfully one-dimensional Chinese stereotype, depicted as a kung-fu master and the son of the villain Fu Manchu. He spoke in stilted English and never eclipsed his fellow superheroes. In fact, when Liu found out the character would be Marvel’s first major Asian hero, he was “almost disappointed,” the actor told Men’s Health. “I was like, how many opportunities do we have for Asian superheroes, and this one guy is, like, just a kung fu master? It just felt kind of reductive and, you know, not true to life and not anything that I could relate to.”

But the film revamps Shang-Chi’s story to avoid the racist cliches while pulling threads from his origin story. An official description of the plot, per Marvel, says “Shang-Chi and The Legend of The Ten Rings stars Simu Liu as Shang-Chi, who must confront the past he thought he left behind when he is drawn into the web of the mysterious Ten Rings organization.”

The story begins with Shang-Chi as a 20-something in San Francisco, where he spends most of his days hanging out with his friend Katy (Awkwafina). The actress told EW that “[Katy] doesn’t do a lot of the heavy lifting. But at the end of the day, she has a real heart, and she has a loyalty and dedication to her friendship with Shang-Chi. She’s super brave.”

Producer Jonathan Schwartz told EW the core of Shang-Chi is a family drama. “That was something that [director Destin Daniel Cretton] keyed into really early on in our conversations, the idea of taking this broken family and this really dark, even abusive family background and seeing what that does to a child over time.”

Shang-Chi’s villain in the film is his father, Wenwu. It’s been 10 years since Shang-Chi last saw his dad, after learning about his criminal work. “This is not a ‘Luke, I am your father’ twist. He knows who his father is, and he’s decided to leave that world behind before he’s pulled back into it,” Marvel Studios president Kevin Feige told EW. The plot thickens as Wenwu calls his son to take his place on the throne.

When will the film be released?

Shang-Chi will premiere in theaters on Sept. 3, 2021. On April 19, Liu posted an Instagram announcing the release date for the film, along with the first teaser poster of his character. Due to the pandemic, the film is being released nine months after its originally planned theater run.

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Marvel has yet to confirm if the film will be available on Disney+ on the same day the film will premiere in theaters, as was the case with Mulan and will be with the upcoming Black Widow.

Who’s in the cast?

Marvel Studios’ Shang-Chi and The Legend of The Ten Rings stars Liu as Shang Chi and Crazy Rich Asians star Awkwafina as Katy. The film also co-stars Tony Chiu-Wai Leung as Shang-Chi’s criminal father, Wenwu, the antagonist; Michelle Yeoh; Florian Munteanu, best known for his role in Creed II; and Ronny Chieng. This is Marvel’s first movie to have a predominantly Asian cast.

shang chi and the legend of the seven rings

Fala Chen as Jiang Li, Simu Liu as Shang-Chi, and Awkwafina as Katy.

Jasin Boland

On April 19, the cast and directors spoke to Entertainment Weekly about the upcoming film. In the executive interview, Awkwafina talked about project’s cultural significance.

“It was a level of Asian representation that I haven’t seen, and I thought it was cool as an Asian American to watch,” she said. “It definitely explores different levels of identity.”

Liu has long had hopes of playing an Asian superhero. In December 2018, he tweeted at Marvel about the movie. After his tweet, the franchise sent an invitation for a live audition. Once he was cast in the role in July 2019, he tweeted, “Well shit,” in response to his original 2018 post.

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Who’s behind the camera?

Just Mercy’s Cretton directed the film, while Feige and Schwartz served as producers and Louis D’Esposito, Victoria Alonso, and Charles Newirth as executive producers. Cretton co-wrote the screenplay, along with David Callaham and Andrew Lanham.

Is there a trailer?

The same day Liu released a poster teaser, Marvel Studios released an action-packed teaser trailer of the upcoming film.

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And on June 24, a full trailer dropped, giving audiences a closer look at the film’s stunning action sequences—and a surprising sneak peek at the return of an old villain: Abomination, last seen in 2008’s The Incredible Hulk. (Skip to 1:50 for a glimpse.)

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What other Marvel movies are linked to the film?

Shang-Chi’s father, Wenwu, is sometimes known as the Mandarin and is involved with the Ten Rings, a terrorist organization first mentioned in the Iron Man films. “I think people hear ‘the Mandarin’ and expect a very specific kind of thing, and that may not be the thing they’re getting. They’re hopefully getting a more complex and layered take on the character than that name would lead you to,” Schwartz teased, per EW.

The inclusion of Abomination also links Shang-Chi to the upcoming She-Hulk series, in which the Hulk villain is also set to appear. But until we know more about the plot particulars of Shang-Chi, we’ll have to wait and see how it spurs the larger MCU forth.

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