REVIEW: Shang-Chi Foreshadows the MCU’s Next Step
In Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings, Shang-Chi (Simu Liu) and his sister, Xialing (Meng’er Zhang) are pulled back into the machinations of their father’s sinister organization, the Ten Rings, which they each attempted to flee in distinct ways. But by the end of the newest Marvel Studios movie, things are very different for the two siblings (and the rest of the Marvel Universe) than they were at the start!
If you haven’t seen Shang-Chi yet and you don’t want to have the movie spoiled, then leave this page now (and consider checking out MarvelBlog’s review roundup here)! This review contains spoilers for the film, which debuted September 3rd, 2021, and is written by a guest contributor, Avery Kaplan.
First of all, Wong (Benedict Wong) has a fantastic role in this movie. You get a sense that he is out in the Marvel Universe having his own adventures, and you get to see a little bit of them when he pops in for his role in Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings.
Plus, Wong’s battle with Abomination brings the Marvel One-Shot shorts closer to canon, and that’s pretty cool!
Although Marvel Studios head-boss Kevin Feige previously confirmed the battle between the MCU wizard and the old villain, saying, “the reason it looks like that is because that is Abomination fighting Wong,” it was still exciting to watch the cage fight on the big screen… and to see how Wong played a larger role than teased by the Shang-Chi trailers.
Finally, Wong’s appearance to whisk Shang-Chi and Katy (Awkwafina) away at the end of the movie makes it clear that wherever Wong is going, Shang-Chi will be close behind…
With Wong appearing in What If…?, Shang-Chi, Spider-Man 3: No Way Home, and Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, I have to wonder just what role his friend, Shang-Chi the new superhero, will be playing in the immediate future!
Morris Mystery Solved
And closely connected to the fact that the Marvel One-Shots are becoming closer to canon is the solution to the mystery of Morris, who is voiced by Dee Bradley Baker. We’ve been wondering what the strange creature could be since we first saw him packaged with a Katy action figure.
Now we know: Morris is an adorable, furry mythical creature with six legs and four wings, who spent years living with Trevor Slatterly (Ben Kingsley), the man who impersonated “the Mandarin” in 2013’s Iron Man 3.
Not only do both Slatterly and Morris provide plentiful comedic relief during the serious climactic battle, but they also help connect Shang-Chi to the larger Marvel Cinematic Universe continuity.
To avoid giving to much away: for other Star Trek: Discovery fans out there, just think of Morris as a Tardigrade navigating the Mycelial Network, a living map to different parts of the Star Trek galaxy.
Morris must help Shang-Chi and the rest of the film’s superhero team – and trust me, Marvel Blog True Believers, Slatterly is there for more than surrendering to Morris’s adorable nuzzles – navigate the mystical pathways to the climax of the movie… and maybe even the rest of the MCU?
(Editor’s Note: Dare I say it, Pet Avengers? – RK)
End Credit Scenes
Plus, both mid-credits scenes were very exciting.
Xialing’s scene was interesting because it highlighted how, after embracing her mother’s fighting style throughout her life, she is finally able to embrace part of her father’s legacy, as well. With Wenwu (Tony Leung) out of the way, Xialing takes over the Ten Rings organization.
Will this lead to a new villain, or is she just going to be a morally complicated ally? It’s compelling stuff, Marvel Blog True Believers! (Editor’s note: Marvel does love the morally complicated female characters lately, like Power Broker and Val, and I’m here for it. – RK)
Meanwhile, when Shang-Chi uses the Ten Rings, it activates a homing beacon in deep space! This means that Wong consults Bruce Banner (Mark Ruffalo) and Captain Marvel (Brie Larson), and that he’s obviously better at taking breaks in between belting sessions at karaoke than I am (but hey, maybe superheroes just have better time management skills).
I had been hoping that Captain Marvel would appear, since Larson and Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings director Destin Daniel Cretton have worked together several times before, including The Glass Castle (2017) and Just Mercy (2019), and I was not at all disappointed… but I am curious to see what else Captain Marvel has been up to!
Meanwhile, Banner’s arm is still in a cast, presumably from when Hulk snapped the Infinity Gauntlet. That’s quite the injury, and it’s interesting that he’s both de-Hulked and still hurt!
We don’t have any idea what is sending the signal from deep space, because the Ten Rings aren’t based on anything from Marvel Comics: they’re a new creation. They might have a connection to a pre-existing Marvel Comics (or even MCU) character, or they could be part of an all-new story!
Whatever the case may be, it’s clear that Shang-Chi and Katy will be joining Wong for the next big thing in the MCU… and that’s a pretty solid start to a team of All-New, All-Different Avengers – which is good, because you’ll want to see more of Shang-Chi as soon as the movie has ended, and it’s too bad we have to wait 45 days for it to arrive on Disney+ to see it again.
Look, I know that this season of What If…? is probably too much to hope for… but we better see some Shang-Chi in season two!
Avery Kaplan is the Features Editor at Comics Beat. You can also find her writing on NeoText, StarTrek.com, and on Comics Bookcase, plus in many issues of the Eisner Award-winning PanelxPanel. Her favorite Marvel Comics characters are Gwen Poole and Doctor Aphra.