Warning: SPOILERS are ahead for Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings!
It’s been over two weeks since Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings premiered exclusively in theaters, and the movie has had an outstanding critical and commercial run so far. So while Marvel Studios hasn’t officially announced Shang-Chi 2 yet, it stands to reason we’ll be seeing more of Simu Liu’s character in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, especially given what unfolded in the mid and post-credits scenes. Naturally though, it’ll be a while until we learn what the sequel has in store, but the first Shang-Chi movie may have laid the groundwork for another famous Marvel martial artist to be brought in: Danny Rand, a.k.a. Iron Fist.
Of course, Iron Fist has already gotten some live-action attention in recent years from his Netflix series, although that wasn’t nearly as well received as the likes of Daredevil, Jessica Jones, Luke Cage and The Punisher. Still, Danny Rand remains an important superhero within Marvel lore, and now that Shang-Chi has been established as an important player in the MCU, let’s go over how his first cinematic adventure paves the way for Iron Fist to possibly take part in the sequel.
How Shang-Chi Set Up Iron Fist
At the start of Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings, we learn that Shang-Chi’s father, Wenwu, a.k.a. The Mandarin, met his wife, Ying Li, in the latter’s village within Ta Lo, which exists as a separate dimension in another corner of the multiverse. Decades later, Shang-Chi, his sister Xialing and his friend Katy make their way to Tan Lo, where they meet Ying Nan, Shang-Chi and Xialing’s aunt, Ying Nan. Among the things that we learn during this trip to Tan Lo is there are other cities in this dimensions. Why not have K’un Lun be one of these cities?
In Marvel Comics lore, K’un Lun is the mystical city located within a pocket dimension that’s accessible through the Kunlun Mountains in Tibet. Danny Rand’s father, Wendell Rand, found K’un Lun as a boy, and when he became an adult, he organized an expedition back there, bringing along his wife Heather, his son Danny and business partner Harold Meachum. Unfortunately, Harold’s treachery resulted in Wendell and Heather dying, but young Danny was saved by archers guarding K’un Lun and was brought to the city. Over the next decade, Danny trained to become a skilled martial artist and obtained the power of the iron fist by defeating a dragon named Shou-Lao the Undying. Hey, look at that! Not only does K’un Lun have the kind of mystical vibe making it a perfect fit for Tan Lo, it also has its own dragon, just like Yin Nan’s village does.
How Shang-Chi 2 Could Use Iron Fist
Now that we’ve established a hypothetical scenario where K’un Lun exists within the MCU’s Ta Lo dimension, it’s easy enough to insert Iron Fist into the Shang-Chi 2 picture. One option is that Shang-Chi meets Danny Rand during a journey to K’un Lun for some unknown reason, and in this scenario, Danny has yet to return to our reality. So whenever it becomes necessary to return to Earth, Shang-Chi can bring Danny back with him, and this would give Danny his first taste of our world in at least a decade, if not longer.
Another option is that Danny Rand already made his way back to Earth ahead of the events of Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings, and so they run into each other while on separate out in the “real world.” If we embark down this creative route, then we don’t get to see Danny as the proverbial ‘fish out of water,’ but it can still serve as an origin story of sorts. Maybe he’s been using his powers in secret, or perhaps has turned his back on being the Iron Fist, but his time with Shang-Chi convinces him to fully embrace becoming a superhero. As for what kind of adversary these two would face together, I’d be game for them clashing with someone like Master Khan or Crane Mother.
Of course, which of these two options is ultimately chosen depends on which version of Iron Fist we’d be getting in Shang-Chi 2, which brings us to the final section.
Which Iron Fist Should Shang-Chi 2 Use?
As I mentioned earlier, Netflix’s Iron Fist series was not a critical darling, and Finn Jones’ portrayal of Danny Rand was among the show’s most critiqued aspects. Nevertheless, because it remains murky whether or not Marvel’s Netflix shows are being kept within the main MCU continuity, there is a scenario where the Iron Fist who starred in his own series, The Defenders miniseries and an episode of Luke Cage Season 2 is the one who appears in Shang-Chi 2. And even if the Netflix continuity is being shifted to another reality, it’s possible Jones could still reprise Danny, albeit a different version of him. After all, it’s been rumored that Charlie Cox is reprising Matt Murdock/Daredevil in Spider-Man: No Way Home, but this won’t be the same Matt we watched over in the Netflix-verse.
However, given how much baggage live-action Iron Fist is already dealing with, it’s probably for the best that we wipe the slate clean and bring in a new actor to play the character. This provides much-needed distance from the character’s prior depiction, as well as allow the Shang-Chi 2 filmmakers, and the MCU as a whole, to reinterpret the character in a way that better fits the direction the MCU movies and Disney+ shows are going. This likely means we would have to go over Danny’s origins again, but his backstory is still a far cry from being as common knowledge to the general public as someone like Batman or Spider-Man, so it’s not unreasonable. Oh, and the best reason of all to start fresh on Iron Fist? We can finally give him the cinematic costume he deserves. Still, the key with featuring Iron Fist in Shang-Chi 2 is that he doesn’t overshadow the main protagonist. His role should be something akin to how Falcon and Black Widow were used in Captain America: The Winter Soldier.
Naturally this is all just speculation; perhaps now that Shang-Chi has been added to the MCU mythology, Marvel doesn’t feel a need to include Iron Fist. Or maybe Iron Fist will simply be introduced to the MCU elsewhere, be it in another movie or a Disney+ series like Moon Knight or She-Hulk. Either way, we’ll let you know if Marvel Studios announces any plans for the character, as well as if the company makes it official that Shang-Chi 2 is moving forward.
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Connoisseur of Marvel, DC, Star Wars, John Wick, MonsterVerse and Doctor Who lore. He's aware he looks like Harry Potter and Clark Kent.