During 2019's always-anticipated Marvel Studios panel at San Diego Comic-Con, it was officially announced that Shang-Chi And The Legend Of The Ten Rings would officially be a part of the newly-announced Phase 4 for the Marvel Cinematic Universe. And that wasn't the only bit of information we discovered about the forthcoming superhero blockbuster, as the movie also announced the star who would play the eponymous hero, the filmmaker who would be taking the helm of the project, and its release date.
Since it was originally announced, conversation around the film has been kept ultra hush-hush, with Marvel holding off on releasing any official first looks at the movie – but we have been able to pick up bits and pieces of information as we've gotten closer and closer to its release date. So who is directing Shang-Chi And The Legend Of The Ten Rings? What will it be about? Who will be in it? And when will we actually see it? We answer all of those questions and more in this installment of our What We Know So Far guides!
What Is The Release Date Of Shang-Chi And The Legend Of The Ten Rings?
When the project was officially announced to the public, it was also revealed that Shang-Chi And The Legend Of The Ten Rings would be released on February 12, 2021. That, however, was long before people knew about the COVID-19 pandemic. Plans for the blockbuster have shifted since then, with the film first moving from winter to summer, but now the film is set to hit theaters in the fall of 2021, namely on September 3, 2021. And all signs point to it not moving again. It's one of four films from the franchise coming out this year, and you can read about all of them in our Upcoming Marvel Movies guide.
Who Is Directing Shang-Chi And The Legend Of The Ten Rings?
In the last decade, Destin Daniel Cretton has proven himself to be one of the elite young filmmakers working in Hollywood. He first got a great deal of attention for his stunning 2013 feature Short Term 12 – which features a phenomenal ensemble packed with "before they were stars" actors, including Brie Larson, Rami Malek, LaKeith Stanfield, Stephanie Beatriz, and Kaitlyn Dever. He followed that movie with an adaptation of Jeannette Walls' The Glass Castle, and the powerful legal drama Just Mercy, but now he is making what is definitely the biggest film of his career with Shang-Chi And The Legend Of The Ten Rings.
Under other circumstances this might been a circumstance that would cause fans to worry, but the reality is that Marvel has been shepherding young filmmakers with limited blockbuster experience for years and years at this point. Directors like James Gunn, the Russo brothers, Jon Watts, and Taika Waititi never made anything on the scale of a superhero movie prior to their respective MCU features, and so there is plenty of reason to expect that Destin Daniel Cretton will actually thrive in the environment.
Who Is Writing Shang-Chi And The Legend Of The Ten Rings?
When it came to hiring the right talent to writing the script for Shang-Chi And The Legend Of The Ten Rings, Marvel Studios made the decision to turn to Dave Callaham, who is an experienced screenwriter with a good deal of experience in the superhero field. The production company previously turned to him when the script for Ant-Man was coming together, and he's even done some work for the competition, having collaborated with Patty Jenkins and Geoff Johns on Wonder Woman 1984. It's also worth noting that his blockbuster experience goes beyond comics, as he also got a "Story By" credit on 2014's Godzilla, and penned the upcoming Mortal Kombat remake. Clearly the guy knows a thing or two about making big movies, and we're keeping our fingers crossed he has operated well in the Marvel system.
What Is Shang-Chi And The Legend Of The Ten Rings About?
As alluded to earlier in this piece, Marvel Studios has been playing its cards close to the vest when it comes to Shang-Chi And The Legend Of The Ten Rings. That's partially because Marvel has always been big on secrets, but it's also because of the constantly shifting release schedule and the fear of putting out too much information too early. It's very likely that the floodgates won't open until we are much closer to the release of Black Widow – but the good news is that's only a few months away from now. At that time we'll hopefully get not only first look images, but also a more dense plot description than what currently exists.
As of right now, what we know about the story being told in Shang-Chi And The Legend Of The Ten Rings can be summed up in one sentence – specifically the one that was released in late 2019 when the movie's full cast was announced (more on that in a second). Per Marvel, "Shang-Chi must confront the past he thought he left behind when he is drawn into the web of the mysterious Ten Rings organization." Obviously that's not much to go on, but it's what we have!
The Characters And Cast Of Shang-Chi And The Legend Of The Ten Rings
Arguably the most exciting aspect of any new solo film in the Marvel Cinematic Universe is the projects capacity to introduce a litany of exciting new characters into the franchise – and it very much looks like Shang-Chi And The Legend Of The Ten Rings. Not only does the film seem to have an interesting lineup of heroes and villains lined up, but they are set to be played by some incredibly talented performers.
Shang-Chi (Simu Liu)
Like Desin Daniel Cretton, Simu Liu also doesn't have much in the way of blockbuster experience – but that just means that he's now waiting in the wings to become one of the world's biggest stars. In 2017 he played a recurring role on the TV series version of the Liam Neeson-thriller Taken, but he is probably best known at this point in his career for playing the role of Jung in the acclaimed Canadian sitcom Kim's Convenience.
The actor will be the first performer to ever play a live-action version of Shang-Chi, who was created by Steve Englehart and Jim Starlin, and was first introduced to the pages of Marvel Comics in 1973. He is also known in the universe as the Master of Kung Fu, a name that highlights his remarkable martial arts skills, and he has been a part of many notable teams during his existence, including The Avengers.
While we can't say we know much about Katy in Shang-Chi And The Legend Of The Ten Rings beyond the fact that she is a friend of the titular hero, what can be fully recognized is the big step that the Marvel Studios production is for Awkwafina's career. She is now a couple years removed from her acclaimed performance in the remarkable 2019 drama The Farewell, but that time has also seen her earn rave reviews for her voice performance as Sisu in Walt Disney Animation Studios' Raya And The Last Dragon.
Wenwu/The Mandarin (Tony Leung)
Audiences first thought they were going to see a big screen version of The Mandarin back in 2013 with the release of Iron Man 3, with the character played by Sir Ben Kingsley – but it was revealed in the course of that film that Kingsley's character was merely an imposter. Now Shang-Chi And The Legend Of The Ten Rings is getting set to feature the real Mandarin as its central antagonist, and he will be played by actor Tony Leung. American audiences may not be overly familiar with the actor's work, but he is best known for his collaborations with director Wong Kar-Wai (including In The Mood For Love, 2046, and The Grandmaster), and he plays one of the two lead roles in 2002's Infernal Affairs (the movie that Martin Scorsese remade as The Departed).
Jiang Nan (Michelle Yeoh)
Marvel fans paying attention will remember that Michelle Yeoh made her Marvel Cinematic Universe debut a few years ago in James Gunn's Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, as she briefly cameoed as Aleta Ogord in one of the movie's many post-credits scenes. It's still possible that we will see her return to that role in Guardians of the Galaxy 3, but in Shang-Chi And The Legend Of The Ten Rings the actor will be playing a wholly different character. Now, admittedly we can't say much more than that at this point, as there hasn't been any official information released about the role that the character Jiang Nan has in the plot of the film, but Yeoh's presence alone has our expectations raised.
Jon Jon (Ronny Chieng)
Jon Jon is another character in Shang-Chi And The Legend Of The Ten Rings that we admittedly don't know too much about, but the trailer seems to suggest he is a friend of Shang-Chi's in the "normal" world, and we wouldn't be surprised if he provides more than a few laughs in the scenes between the kung fu action given Ronny Chieng's comedic skills. The actor is getting his first taste of blockbuster action experience in 2021, starring in both Shang-Chi and Godzilla vs. Kong – but he is best known for as a correspondent on The Daily Show With Trevor Noah, and his part in the romantic comedy Crazy Rich Asians.
The closer we get to Shang-Chi And The Legend Of The Ten Rings' release date, the more we learn about it – and it's in recognition of that fact that we will continue to update this feature with all of the latest information we have about the Marvel blockbuster. In the meantime, keep your fingers crossed that the wait to see more won't be long!
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Eric Eisenberg is the Assistant Managing Editor at CinemaBlend. After graduating Boston University and earning a bachelor’s degree in journalism, he took a part-time job as a staff writer for CinemaBlend, and after six months was offered the opportunity to move to Los Angeles and take on a newly created West Coast Editor position. Over a decade later, he's continuing to advance his interests and expertise. In addition to conducting filmmaker interviews and contributing to the news and feature content of the site, Eric also oversees the Movie Reviews section, writes the the weekend box office report (published Sundays), and is the site's resident Stephen King expert. He has two King-related columns.