With a number of Phase 4 releases focusing on existing MCU heroes like Thor: Love and Thunder and Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings stands out in that it is centered around an entirely new character to the franchise.
And, with the film fast approaching its September 3, 2021 release date, promotion is finally beginning to ramp up. Shang-Chi recently received its first official poster, showing off MCU newcomer Simu Liu suited up in a new crimson costume. Other promotional images were released simultaneously, featuring the villainous Mandarin in addition to some of the film's key characters.
The biggest piece of marketing material came in the form of Shang-Chi's first trailer, which revealed new plot details about the relationship between Wenwu and the titular hero all the while featuring killer kung-fu action.
In anticipation of the martial arts-filled flick, Simu Liu has now talked about how Shang-Chi sets himself apart from more familiar superheroes...
SIMU LIU EXPLAINS HOW SHANG-CHI DIFFERS FROM SPIDER-MAN
In an interview with Entertainment Weekly, MCU actor Simu Liu discussed the portrayal and exploration of his titular hero in Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings.
Liu revealed that what excited him most about playing Shang-Chi "was that his backstory has never been told before." The Marvel star compared his character to the likes of Batman and Spider-Man, saying that Shang-Chi's obscurity gave him "a lot of freedom and creative liberty:"
"We know so many different versions of Batman's origin story, how his parents were murdered when he was very young. We know Peter Parker, who was bitten by a radioactive spider, and he loses his uncle. Shang-Chi's story is very much unknown to most of the world, so we had a lot of freedom and creative liberty to make it the way that we wanted to."
Simu Liu also noted that some of Shang-Chi's comic book history is hindered by its use of Asian stereotypes, which was an aspect that he and the filmmakers set out to avoid:
"When you look at the character of Shang-Chi through the comic books going back to the '70s and '80s, the fact that he existed and the fact that he was an Asian character was amazing...But at the same time, there are aspects of that portrayal of him that maybe could feel a little stereotypical. So when we first started to map out who this character was and what his journey was going to be over the course of this film, we were all very sensitive to not have it go into stereotypical territory."
Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings is another effort to promote diversity within the Marvel Cinematic Universe, but Simu Liu also noted that there is diversity within Asian culture itself. The actor described how the film crew was "this big mix of Asian cultures coming together," all contributing to ensure that Shang-Chi was portrayed correctly:
"Remember, the Asian culture is so diverse...I grew up in Hawaii, [and] Hawaiian food is like Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Hawaiian, Filipino, all mixed together. That is kind of what our crew was: It's like this big mix of Asian cultures coming together and responding to the script and [saying things] like, 'Oh, that doesn't feel quite right.' All of that helped contribute to what I think is a really beautiful update to what started in the comics a few decades ago."
SIMU LIU'S NEW KIND OF MCU HERO
Marvel Studios has not been opposed to introducing characters into its franchise who the public, and even some avid comic readers, have no awareness of. Guardians of the Galaxy was the first attempt at this, and it paid off massively for the company and the films that followed.
Shang-Chi will be following this trend, taking a character that is relatively unknown and propelling him into the spotlight. Heroes like Spider-Man carry lofty expectations from fans, which can sometimes limit what is possible for a character to do. Shang-Chi himself doesn't have this problem, allowing the filmmakers to course-correct the hero to fit the story and the universe he is being adapted to.
It seems that many contributed to the creation of Shang-Chi, from a wide spread of Asian voices. Though the character primarily originates from Chinese culture, it appears that the upcoming Marvel flick will do its best to be a celebration of the diversity within Asian culture as a whole.
Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings premieres in theaters on September 3, 2021.