Phase 4 of the Marvel Cinematic Universe has seen an impressive round of success through its 2021 releases, most prominently with projects like September's Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings. Director Destin Daniel Cretton and star Simu Liu gave the MCU its first Asian-leading superhero in a movie that brought fans back to the theaters and introduced the MCU's next potential member of the Avengers.
Now, the Shang-Chi-verse is already set for an impressive amount of expansion after the leading hero had his first interaction with Captain Marvel and the Hulk in the movie's mid-credits scene. While there are no official future appearances set for Liu or his castmates yet, it's abundantly clear that this story will help carry the MCU through Phase 4 and beyond.
Leading the way in that regard is Cretton, who recently closed a deal to develop a Disney+ project for the MCU along with the inevitable Shang-Chi sequel. However, even considering how important his role with Marvel Studios will be going forward, expectations shouldn't be set too high for the MCU's main-event-level projects.
Shang-Chi Director Avoiding Avengers Movies
Speaking with IGN, Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings director Destin Daniel Cretton revealed that he doesn't have aspirations to direct one of the MCU's bigger projects like the next Avengers movie.
When asked if he would want to follow a path similar to that of directors Joe and Anthony Russo, who moved from Captain America: The Winter Soldier to the last two Avengers films, Cretton admitted that this wasn't a goal for him. Instead, he wants to focus on "exploring...characters" once he and the team land on the right story, no matter how many characters come into play:
"That's definitely not a hope of mine. I don't really aspire for one or the other. Once we land on the story that we want to tell, it'll define how many characters will enter that story. But I'm mainly excited to explore the characters more and their emotional journeys, and watch them grow and try to achieve things and fail, and see how they get themselves up out of the mud. So that's what I'm most excited. And I'm not sure how many characters we'll be introducing in the next one."
Cretton Focusing on Characters, Not Avengers-Scale Film
Taking on the responsibilities of making an Avengers outing is not for the faint of heart, and it's not something that every MCU director wants to tackle. For every dynamo directing team like the Russo brothers, there are many more directors like Cretton that are comfortable making either solo movies or Disney+ shows that are far less intense to work on.
The Russo brothers specifically are a unique situation after having found so much success with the last two Captain America sequels, leading them to take on the challenges of directing Avengers: Infinity War and Avengers: Endgame. Even for those movies' industry-changing success, both directors have spoken about how much energy it took out of them and how neither of them slept much during the process.
Although it's still unknown when the MCU's next major team-up event will officially be confirmed, Cretton seems perfectly happy to hang back and make sure that Shang-Chi's world and smaller stories are told as well as possible. Thanks to his deal with Marvel, he will have a slate full of new entries that he wants to develop, particularly in terms of characters with stories he's intent on expanding.
Cretton's first MCU entry, Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings, is now available to stream on Disney+.