As one of Marvel Studios’ most-liked Phase 4 projects, Shang-Chi brought a lot to the MCU, including its first Asian lead.
Another of Marvel’s higher-profile Asian heroes, the Sorcerer Supreme himself, Wong made several appearances in Phase 4. Most notably in Doctor Strange 2, where he made use of a traditional Chinese weapon.
Wong’s Doctor Strange 2 Weapon Has Shang-Chi Ties
In Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, during the battle with Gargantos, Wong conjured a mystical rope dart. The rope dart is an ancient, long-used weapon of Chinese origin. It consists of a length of rope with a metal spike secured at the end.
This same form of weaponry was employed by Xu Xialing during the final battle in Ta Lo from Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings. As it turned out, the rope dart’s appearance in that film was used as a reference for Wong’s magical version in Multiverse of Madness.
In the book Marvel Studios’ Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness: The Art of the Movie, it’s explained by Graham Churchyard, the film’s costume designer, that he wanted to “move away” from the classic rope dart design:
“Wong’s rope dart is a martial arts weapon, a bit like a physical taser. It also turned up in Marvel Studios’ 'Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings,' which was shooting at the same time, but there it was more of a classic rope dart worn on the waist. I wanted to move away from that, and I had seen armored cuffs on trips to museums like the Pitt Rivers Museum in Oxford and the British Museum, where they have a section on near-Middle Eastern armor.”
Churchyard went into greater detail about Wong’s rope dart from the film, which was designed to “increase in size” when the user hurled it at its target.
“Some of the most lethal ancient weapons are so beautifully constructed they look like jewelry. And then you realize it’s a weapon designed to kill someone— that’s always quite bizarre. I wanted to scale it down onto a wrist, we had to get away from the sort of giant arrowhead that was in 'Shang-Chi' and used in real life. And so I just thought, 'Well, there’s all this eldritch magic.' So that’s why I sold them this idea that it would just increase in size as it flew off Wong’s arm.”
The full pages from the art book, which include concept paintings of the mystical rope dart used by Wong in Doctor Strange 2, can be seen below:
Marvel Studios Projects Influence Each Other
It’s actually a fairly frequent occurrence when an element in one MCU project shares a connection with an element from another.
Sometimes, something as minor as a special effect needs to be changed, (possibly mid-production) so that it won’t be perceived as too similar to something in another of Marvel’s movies or shows.
Such is the nature of filmmaking. However, it does seem like Marvel content in particular is subject to, at times, last-minute alterations to better suit the larger universe, as well as the brand itself.
So, while it didn’t seem like the decision was made late in the game, Wong using the same weapon as Xialing did in another film clearly needed to be addressed behind the scenes so that they wouldn’t be too similar.
Marvel Studios’ Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings and Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness can both be streamed on Disney+ and purchased wherever movies are sold.