Morris, the loveable little creature from Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings, could have looked far different than what made it on screen.
The faceless, cute-as-a-button beast made a great impression when it was introduced alongside the returning Trevor Slattery. While in confinement, the former terrorist and now Shakespearean actor was kept company by an adorable, faceless, winged companion from the mystical lands of Ta Lo.
But what if Morris wasn't quite so small, cute, and cuddly?
A Much More Intimidating Morris In Shang-Chi
Marvel Studios recently released the new Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings: The Art Of The Movie book, and in it, a drastically alternate version of Morris was revealed.
Concept illustrator John Stab noted that when it came to the cute little creature, creating "expression on a faceless creature" was quite the challenge:
“I wanted to create something that was on the cuter side... Something that looks like it would be a good companion on their quest. I referenced a lot of small, real-life creatures, but expression on a faceless creature was one of the challenges."
The answer came in the form of Morris' wings, which ended up being "a great tool for expression:"
"Ultimately, I thought that his wings would be a great tool for expression, acting as giant eyebrows to express anger, worry, excitement, etc. Once that was established, it was easier to make the rest of his body follow through to express the same emotion. I realized early on that this was going to be a very memorable character. Especially while working on the expression sheet, I thought, ‘This guy is going to be adorable.’”
Overall, Morris was designed based on a Hundun, a creature of Chinese mythology.
While the final product was cute and cuddly, according to concept illustrator Tully Summers, the creature was originally "intended to be imposing and formidable" and had once "[fought] alongside [the film's] heroes:"
“... The script had all these fun moments where he fights alongside our heroes, so my initial Morris designs were intended to be imposing and formidable. incorporated the dangerous claws and powerful musculature from predatory cats. As production eventually shifted Morris into a cuter, more cuddly character, I played with brighter colors and fur to try to soften him up.”
The far more muscled version of the beast is certainly off-putting, especially when compared to what ended up on the screen.
It also seems Morris might have been the size of a small horse.
The artists certainly nailed the formidable aspect of the original design—those claws could do some insane damage to whatever ended up on the other side of them.
While the color palette of Morris' final design is rather muted, the concept art has the creature far more vivid.
Will Morris Appear Again in the MCU?
Morris was a fun surprise in Simu Liu's debut MCU adventure, and fans would undoubtedly love to spend even more time with the majestic, faceless, multi-winged dog-like creature.
With as cute and cuddly as Morris' design is, it's a wonder that they aren't the subject are far more merchandising. One would think the creature could be on the same level as The Last Jedi's porgs.
So when might fans be seeing Shang-Chi, and hopefully Morris, again?
The latest report on the highly anticipated sequel noted that the project "[has] been added to the Marvel Studios production calendar."
Additionally, the film was previously rumored for early 2025. However, currently, Fantastic Four holds that spot.
Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings is now streaming on Disney+.