Shang-Chi: Everything You Need To Know About The Marvel Superhero

Marvel is developing a film around the much-celebrated, but lesser-known martial artist hero Shang-Chi, and Marvel Cinematic Universe audiences should be excited. For those that already are, but may not exactly know why at the moment, here are some things to know about the superhero that should get folks excited for his big-screen debut.

Shang-Chi Iron Fist Marvel

He Is Considered One Of The Best Martial Artists

Shang-Chi was trained from birth to be a highly skilled martial arts assassin, and while his ultimate career choice didn't play out, he's still quite talented with kung fu. Specifically, Shang-Chi is proficient in Chinese martial arts and skilled in various swords and other martial arts-ranged and melee weapons. With those skills combined, he's quite a formidable opponent.

With just his hands, however, Shang-Chi is anecdotally a better kung fu master than Iron Fist himself, Danny Rand. The two have squared off in the past in a battle that resulted in a forced stalemate with the two standing on equal ground as fighters. That said, Danny has the power of the Iron Fist, and Black Panther has gone on the record to say Shang-Chi is better than Danny, and I'm inclined to believe him.

Zheng Zu Marvel Comics

His Father Is A Bad Dude

As mentioned, Shang-Chi was originally on a path to become a deadly assassin. His father Zheng Zu wanted his son to grow up and do his bidding, but Shang-Chi was able to break the cycle of villainy and escaped his father's grasp. Zheng Zu remained leader of The Celestial Order Of The Si-Fan, and has worked towards several nefarious plots to conquer society or just create chaos.

Classic Marvel fans may know Shang-Chi's father under a different name, that being "Fu Manchu." Copyright claims due to the character being originally created by author Sax Rohmer, as well as some cultural insensitivity regarding what that character represents, will likely prevent Marvel using that name in the MCU. Still, should the name pop up in the upcoming film in any way, fans should be aware there is a connection between the actual Marvel character and the now-controversial stereotyped character.

Shang-Chi in fighting pose

He's An Avenger

Shang-Chi was added to The Avengers' roster shortly after the events of Avengers vs. X-Men, and perhaps surprisingly, was one of the first heroes contacted to join up. The fact that the martial artist was top-of-mind for Tony Stark and Steve Rodgers when assembling a new team shows how well respected he is within the comics, and how well he can serve a team even without superpowers.

Whether Shang-Chi has what it takes to get an invite to the MCU's Avengers is a different story, but I'm at least hoping he gets an introduction to Tony Stark if nothing else. In the comics, Iron Man created specialized martial arts weaponry embued with cutting-edge Stark technology. High tech kung fu weapons aren't something we've seen a lot of in the genre, so this would be a way to differentiate Shang-Chi from what could be a standard kung fu movie.

Shang-Chi fighting Man-Thing

He Has Insane Amounts Of Control Over His Body

You know all the crazy stuff one has ever heard about someone capable of doing if they practice meditation and do martial arts? Shang-Chi can do those things. He can dull his pain receptors in his body, slow the spread rate of poison in his bloodstream and can slow his bleeding. He may not be superhuman, but his instincts and practiced self-control are certainly otherworldly.

Obviously, this type of control is what allows Shang-Chi to overcome opponents with superpowers in a fight. It also points to a high level of concentration, which may mean he's just naturally better at spotting opportune moments to best opponents than some of his colleagues. Imagine if The Hulk had even half that level of control half of his feelings what he could accomplish. Then again, I suppose that would hinder the entire super-strength thing.

Shang-Chi and supporting cast

He Was Once A Spy

Shang-Chi is obviously one of the superheroes now, but at one time he was involved in MI-6 and running missions on the organization's behalf. While Marvel Comics has since gotten away from that angle in more recent stories, it's a part of the character's history that could be re-introduced should he be an operative, a spy for British intelligence or work for some other intelligence organization.

As for what spy organization the MCU could partner Shang-Chi with, we're not sure. S.H.I.E.L.D. is an obvious choice, although not entirely consistent with the character's backstory and would make some wonder why he wasn't brought into these adventures sooner. That said, with the intention that Marvel wishes to draw a bridge between Asian and Asian-American cultures with this film, perhaps introducing Shang-Chi as a fresh S.H.I.E.L.D. operative presents an opportunity to focus on both cultures.

Shang-Chi entering battle

He's Worked With A Lot Of Heroes

Perhaps the best thing about Shang-Chi is he's a hero who can very easily be incorporated into a lot of other heroes adventures. He's been an Avenger, Daredevil's called on him to help bring down the Punisher, he's worked with Iron Fist and he even trained Spider-Man in martial arts at one point. He may not be the obvious choice for the sidekick in a Marvel adventure, but he definitely is one.

This is good for Shang-Chi's future in the MCU overall and may make it relatively easy to introduce him ahead of his big-screen debut. Additionally, his ability to be a superhero whose presence is significant, but not overtly so makes him a possible ride-along for future ensemble films or cameo roles in other MCU hero adventures. More appearances means more audience exposure, and more chances to become one of America's new favorite Marvel heroes.

The world will continue to wait on more details regarding Shang-Chi's feature film, and CinemaBlend will keep an eye out for any and all updates on the future of the MCU. Speaking of which, the world recently learned yet another major Marvel character has survived Thanos' snap, which could have some interesting implications for future films.

Mick Joest
Content Producer

Mick Joest is a Content Producer for CinemaBlend with his hand in an eclectic mix of television goodness. Star Trek is his main jam, but he also regularly reports on happenings in the world of Star Trek, WWE, Doctor Who, 90 Day Fiancé, Quantum Leap, and Big Brother. He graduated from the University of Southern Indiana with a degree in Journalism and a minor in Radio and Television. He's great at hosting panels and appearing on podcasts if given the chance as well.