Marvel Boss Reveals Difference Between Star Wars' Darth Vader and Shang-Chi's Mandarin

By Pierre Chanliau Updated:
Darth Vader Mandarin

There has been an explosion of Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings promotion with the release of a teaser poster showing off Simu Liu's live-action superhero costume, still photos from the film and production, and finally, the first trailer for the film. For Shang-Chi fans, it has been quite a happy day.

Since the film was officially announced, fans have known that the Mandarin would be Shang-Chi's father, but it was unknown what kind of relationship they would have in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. It turns out that it isn't a secret between either character, as Shang-Chi's father, Wenwu, raised him from birth as a fighter to stand by his side.

In a new interview with the cast and crew, Marvel Studios President Kevin Feige explained how this villainous father-figure differs from another famous evil parent in Star Wars.


Simu Liu Mandarin Shang-Chi

According to Entertainment Weekly, it's been around 10 years since Shang-Chi learned of his father's true nature and walked away from that life.

Due to these circumstances, “This is not a 'Luke, I am your father' twist,” Feige added, and that “He knows who his father is, and he's decided to leave that world behind before he's pulled back into it.”

Legendary Hong Kong actor Tony Leung, known for Wong Kar-wai's In the Mood for Love and Chungking Express, was cast as the Mandarin, known in this film as Wenwu.

Director Destin Daniel Cretton explained that while “A character like Wenwu could have easily been a one-dimensional villain with no heart,” that he's also capable of love:

“Tony opened this character up [so] this is an antagonist who has a deep ability to love.”

More amusingly, while the relationship between Wenwu and Shang-Chi is complicated on-screen, off-screen, Leung and Liu bonded over snowboarding of all things, with Liu calling “[Leung] a huge adrenaline junkie.”

Shang-Chi Producer Jonathan Schwartz and Feige explained that Wenwu has “gone by many names,” with one being “the Mandarin” who was last mentioned in Iron Man 3. However, that Mandarin turned out to be a fraud played by Ben Kingsley.

Schwartz said that people will already have expectations when it comes to this villain, and that Leung's Wenwu will be “a more complex and layered” adaptation of the character:

“I think people hear 'the Mandarin' and expect a very specific kind of thing, and that may not be the thing they're getting. They're hopefully getting a more complex and layered take on the character than that name would lead you to.”


As shown in the trailer for Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings, Wenwu has allowed his son to “live [his] life” for ten years. This implies that Wenwu let his son leave the Ten Rings of his own will but is clearly frustrated by him and where he is in life. This certainly is not father-of-the-year material, but it's interesting to see a villainous father figure like Wenwu giving his son, his successor, such leeway for so long.

Cretton said that the Mandarin “has a deep ability to love,” which seems to be shown, in his own way, with how he treats his son, Shang-Chi.

Hopefully, the director's assurances of this villain not being “a one-dimensional villain with no heart” end up being the case, and fans will have another great villain to tout.

Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings is currently scheduled to release in theaters on September 3, 2021.

Release Date
September 03, 2021
- About The Author: Pierre Chanliau
Pierre Chanliau began as a news & feature writer for The Direct at the site's launch in 2020. As a longtime reader of superhero comic books, Pierre's knowledge of Marvel and DC is extensive, informing his reporting and editorial pieces regarding the MCU and DCU.