WARNING - The following article contains spoilers for Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings.
The Marvel Cinematic Universe has a lot of hand-to-hand fighters, yet the martial arts combat style manages to still bring something fresh to the table in Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings.
The newly released film follows the title character of Shang-Chi as he’s unwillingly looped back into his father’s life after having been on his own for a decade.
The hero's martial arts abilities are obviously in the spotlight, but his Kung Fu mastery isn’t the only power set Shang-Chi has. At the end of the film, he takes on the Ten Rings themselves––a feat that brings some mind-blowing visuals into the active action sequences.
When it comes to the comics, the character has some more profound superpowers that weren’t seen in the film. Some of these were vaguely hinted at during his adventure, but never expanded upon.
What Powers Does Shang-Chi Have in MCU Movies?
A few months back, Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings director Daniel Destin Cretton said that his team wanted Shang-Chi to be on par with other superheroes in the MCU, and not just the Master of Kung Fu. That said, any extra powers the titular character may or may not have were played extremely low-key.
Speaking in an exclusive interview with The Direct, Shang-Chi and Marvel Studios producer Jonathan Schwartz elaborated on Simu Liu's power set in the film.
According to the producer, "the movie definitely establishes that he's a very skilled martial artist," but it's the Ten Rings which they are "excited to explore:"
“The movie definitely establishes that he’s a very skilled martial artist. And, this is a spoiler obviously, but by the end of the movie, he’s taken control of the Ten Rings, which are a very powerful weapon, and I think understanding how those rings sort of fit him into the tapestry of the greater MCU is something we’re excited to explore.”
When it came to Shang-Chi’s martial arts abilities, Schwartz says the team lead “heavily into the genre elements,” with many of the fights being “Wuxia influenced,” a Chinese genre of film dedicated to martial arts heroes:
“We ended up leaning very heavily into, sort of, the genre elements. And the martial arts genre is so deep and so rich, and encompasses so many different looks that I think both kind of the Wuxia influenced fight at the beginning of the movie, the bus fight, the scaffolding fight, and [the] return to fantasy. [They] all feel like they live comfortably within it.”
Shang-Chi's on-screen abilities significantly deviate from his powers on the page. When it came to deciding what would get adapted and what would stay in the comics, Schwartz says that “every set of source material has its own cool and challenging elements:”
“It was a different experience for sure. Every set of source material has its own cool elements and challenging elements, and things that need to be absolutely brought to life, and things that need to be reinvented. So finding that kind of balance for Shang-Chi I think was a unique process and allowed for kind of a lot of invention.”
Shang-Chi and His Ten Rings
As reflected by Shang-Chi's estimated box office, the film did a wonderful job of adapting the character to the big screen. There’s a lot of things in Shang-Chi’s comic history that aren’t the easiest to adapt, so changes were definitely necessary.
When Schwartz mentions “things that need to be reinvented,” at least one of the things he’s hinting at was the Ten Rings. In the comics, they are literal finger rings, each with its own power set. In the film, however, they chose instead to base it on reality, drawing off of the classic Hung Gar Iron Rings Kung Fu weapon.
The future will hold more answers when it comes to the actual superpowers that Shang is able to master. After all, the subtle hints in this first film were placed there for a reason.
Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings is now showing exclusively in theaters worldwide.