Shang-Chi Photos Reveal the Crazy Way Marvel Shot Those Dragon Scenes

By Aeron Mer Eclarinal Updated:
Simu Liu as Shang-Chi, Meng'er Zhang as Xialing, Great Protector

Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings' final battle featured a kaiju-sized showdown like never before in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. 

Throughout Shang-Chi's marketing, Tony Leung's Mandarin was at the forefront as the main villain, but the film ultimately revealed another foe in the form of the Dweller-in-Darkness. The creature's arrival forced everyone, the Ten Rings and the people of Ta-Lo, to team up, and it also paved the way for the Great Protector to get involved

Many would agree that the dragon versus dragon battle was a visual treat, and it was further pushed to the forefront when human characters like Shang-Chi and Xialing became involved. 

Now, a special look at the intense kaiju battle has been revealed in a new breakdown. 

A Full Breakdown of Shang-Chi's Dragon Battle

befores & afters unveiled a new batch of set photos from Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings, showcasing a detailed breakdown of the film's dragon battle. 

During the final fight, the Great Protector emerges from the river to give Simu Liu's titular hero a much-needed assist against the Dweller-in-Darkness: 

Simu Liu as Shang-Chi, Great Protector
Marvel Studios 

In an interview with Shang Chi's VFX artists, the outlet revealed that the model for the Great Protector included fragmented pieces so that they could create different set pieces: 

Simu Liu as Shang-Chi, Meng'er Zhang as Xialing
Marvel Studios 

In the film, it wasn't only Liu's Marvel character who was given a chance to bond with the Great Protector since Meng'er Zhang's Xialing was also involved with the takedown of the Dweller-in-Darkness: 

Simu Liu as Shang-Chi, Meng'er Zhang as Xialing
Marvel Studios

Weta Digitial visual artist Sean Walker shared that the crew created a specific set piece for the dragon's head, and it can be seen in the image below: 

Simu Liu as Shang-Chi, Meng'er Zhang as Xialing
Marvel Studios

Walker also revealed that the Great Protector's model had a gimbal rig that was able to be rotated so that the cast could hang from it when it was upright and lie on it when the dragon was on its side: 

Simu Liu as Shang-Chi, Meng'er Zhang as Xialing
Marvel Studios 

Lastly, Walker also pointed out that the stunts in the film were filmed on lollipop rigs and rope rigs, which are mostly dependent on the shots: 

Simu Liu as Shang-Chi, Meng'er Zhang as Xialing
Marvel Studios 


Yes, the MCU Has Dragons Now 

This latest breakdown goes to show the complex approach of integrating new creatures into MCU lore. The arrival of the Great Protector and Dweller-in-Darkness could serve as a beacon that more similar creatures will arrive in future MCU projects. 

While the heavy use of CGI in MCU films has been the subject of criticism through the years, it's worth pointing out that the preparation and execution of the cast and crew behind the scenes is no laughing matter, as evidenced by the set photos pictured above.

From utilizing a plethora of rigs all the way to finding ways to perfectly craft a shot for post-production, it's safe to say that Shang-Chi's crew made sure that the quality was top-notch. Of course, all of this happened during a global pandemic, meaning that health protocols were implemented that further amplified the challenge for the cast and crew. 

At this stage, it remains to be seen if the Great Protector will return in a potential sequel to Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings, but many would agree that the post-credits scene heavily teased its comeback, especially after revealing that the Ten Rings' creator will soon arrive to invade Earth.

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

Release Date
September 03, 2021
- About The Author: Aeron Mer Eclarinal
Aeron is a news/features writer and Content Lead for The Direct who has been working for the site since March 2020. From writing about the inter-connectivity of the Marvel Cinematic Universe to having an extended knowledge about DC TV's Arrowverse, Aeron's expertise has since expanded into the realm of reality TV, K-drama, animated, and live-action shows from Netflix,  Disney+, Prime Video, MGM+, Peacock, Paramount+, and Max. When he isn't writing and watching all things MCU, Aeron is heavily invested with the NBA (go Celtics!) and occasionally watches thrilling matches in the WWE.