Shang-Chi Director Addresses Romance Potential of Awkwafina's Katy & Xialing

By Tom Drew Updated:
Shang-Chi, Xialing, Katy

Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings is the latest MCU theatrical release, managing to be the year's highest earner in terms of box office performance.

Now that the film has been out for a number of weeks, Marvel Studios has been able to give fans more insight into some of the movie's behind-the-scenes tidbits. This included a look at how the crew filmed scenes with The Great Protector, which required Shang-Chi's actors to physically ride a replica model of the dragon's head.

Razor Fist actor Florian Munteanu even revealed that there was originally a bit more to his role, as a deleted scene featured more about the character's origin story.

A unique aspect of the film was the depiction of Shang-Chi and Katy's friendship, which ultimately didn't lead to the two forming a romantic relationship.

The film's director and screenwriter have now addressed the topic in more detail, in addition to weighing in on another potential pairing that stems from the film.

A Future Shang-Chi Romance?

Shang-Chi Movie Characters

In an interview with Yahoo! Entertainment, Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings director Destin Daniel Cretton and screenwriter David Callaham were asked about the movie's relationships and romantic possibilities that could branch out from the MCU film.

The interviewer pointed out that some fans have been calling for a romantic pairing between Katy and Meng'er Zhang's Xialing, to which Cretton stated that he "would not be opposed to that."

Simu Liu's Shang-Chi and Awkwafina's Katy don't end up as a romantic pairing by the end of the film, prompting the question of whether that decision was debated internally.

Cretton revealed that right from the outset he intended for Shang-Chi and Katy to be friends throughout, likening their dynamic to The Lord of the Rings' Sam and Frodo:

"Early on... when I did my initial pitch, it was like Sam and Frodo was the relationship that I had, like, in my pitch... that Shang-Chi needed... the Asian-American sidekick...When we started talking together with Dave about that relationship, we started talking about how many girl friends we have, like legitimate friends... and I think that's something that we both -- it's very normal to us to have friends who are... and they're not surface friends, they're real intimate friendship relationships that are not romantic. And that was exciting for us to do."

The Shang-Chi director added that Awkwafina being brought on first helped him and Callaham with the relationship's development, saying "as soon as she was on board then it just became a very easy writing process."

Callaham chimed in by corroborating Cretton's recount, joking that it was "lucky for [them]" that fans have responded well to the depiction of the friendship in the final film:

"I'm sure we talked about all the various ways it could go, but I remember it the way that Destin remembers it which is we were both drawn to like representing that kind of friendship... At a place like Marvel, you're going to explore every possible iteration of everything so I know that we talked about it, but people seem to really respond to the way it's portrayed in the film so yeah lucky for us."

A Potential Pairing Between Xialing and Katy?

The portrayal of Shang-Chi and Katy's relationship sparked a bit of debate among fans, with many wondering whether the two would continue romantically or as friends. It seems that the latter will be the case for the time being, allowing room for a positive portrayal of male-female friendship that isn't usually depicted on-screen.

Cretton's acknowledgment and approval of a possible relationship between Awkwafina's Katy and Meng'er Zhang's Xialing are quite interesting, considering that this would be a major step forward for LGBTQIA+ representation in the MCU.

Phase 4 has sought to address criticisms that the MCU has done little to include these social groups, with Loki addressing the God of Mischief's bisexuality and gender fluidity and Eternals currently set to feature the first on-screen gay relationship in the MCU.

A relationship between Katy and Xialing would build on this effort to strive for more representation while creating some interesting story potential. With Xialing now at the head of the Ten Rings potentially being a sticking point for Shang-Chi, a relationship with Katy could create another layer of tension for the sibling's relationship.

Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings is out now in theaters.

Release Date
September 03, 2021
- About The Author: Tom Drew
Tom Drew is the Executive Editor at The Direct. Tom writes for The Direct's Marvel, Star Wars, and DC branches while specializing in all things movies, from blockbuster to indie darlings.