Shang-Chi Might Be Different From The Comics Because Of Black Widow

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Because of the Black Widow movie, Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings may be considerably different from his Marvel comics series.

Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings may be very different from the comic books, due in part to what Marvel has in store for its Black Widow movie. Shang-Chi and Black Widow are two of the first three movies on Marvel’s Phase 4 slate. Originally slated for an early May release, Black Widow has been indefinitely delayed because of the coronavirus outbreak, and a new release date has yet to be announced. And unless Eternals is pushed back as well, Shang-Chi will release in February 2021 as the first of four Marvel movies for the year.
Marvel Studios will make its first foray into the martial arts genre with Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings, a movie which will introduce Simu Liu as the titular Master of Kung Fu. As his title implies, Shang-Chi is one of the greatest martial artists in the Marvel Universe. His first movie will feature the MCU debut of Iron Man’s greatest villain, the Mandarin, an iconic Marvel Comics character who was infamously snubbed by Iron Man 3. The MCU’s Mandarin will be played by Hong Kong super star Tony Leung in his first Hollywood role. The film will be directed by Destin Daniel Cretton.

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Not much is known about what to expect from Shang-Chi, as few details have been released thus far concerning the story and the cast, though kung fu icon Michelle Yeoh is reportedly in talks for an undisclosed role. A synopsis for the movie teased Shang-Chi as a character who learned martial arts after growing up in a “China compound closed off to the outside world”. Though this sounds a lot like the comic book hero, there are other reasons why Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings will be different to the source material, and Black Widow may have a lot to do with that.
Shang-Chi’s Story In Marvel Comics

The bulk of Marvel’s Shang-Chi stories occurred in the 1970s and 1980s during the kung fu craze, but Shang-Chi’s comics differed from kung fu movies in a big way. Marvel’s Master of Kung Fu comic, which lasted for nearly a decade, focused primarily on Shang-Chi’s battles with his evil father, Fu Manchu. Fu Manchu built a powerful, criminal empire that targeted Shang-Chi after he turned against Fu Manchu. Shang-Chi allied with agents of MI-6 to thwart Fu Manchu’s schemes. Shang-Chi’s alliance with MI-6 proved to be more than just a temporary team-up, as other incidents forced Shang-Chi to work alongside them on multiple occasions.
Shang-Chi had strong feelings about working with MI-6, as he despised espionage and the life of a spy. Shang-Chi was constantly being thrust into plots involving covert spies hidden within MI-6, secret missions, clashes with other intelligence agencies, and more. Shang-Chi’s comics were filled with spy elements. Shang-Chi eventually broke away from MI-6 in the later issues of Master of Kung Fu, but he never did completely escape from the world of espionage, as characters from his past always seemed to suck him back in.
How Black Widow May Affect Marvel’s Shang-Chi Movie

If Shang-Chi and the Master of the Ten Rings was accurate to the comics, what audiences would see on the big screen is a spy thriller that dips into the martial arts and fantasy genres with a kung fu expert as its main protagonist and an immortal criminal mastermind as its antagonist. However, this is unlikely to happen, thanks to Black Widow and the nature of her character. Marvel is already diving deep into the world of espionage by giving Natasha Romanoff (Scarlet Johansson) a solo movie. The movie will explore her past and her connection to the Red Room, and plunge her into a mysterious conspiracy. Keeping in mind that Natasha is super spy in Marvel Comics, it certainly makes sense for Marvel to make Black Widow the first MCU movie to be a grounded spy thriller. In fact, “spy thriller” is exactly how Disney themselves is describing the movie (via Disney).

So if Marvel wanted to make a comic book accurate adaptation of Shang-Chi’s story, Black Widow would make this extremely problematic. Marvel has built a reputation for making each of its movies inherently different from the others. It’s clear that one of Marvel’s top priorities is ensuring that every movie is unique and offers something new. Marvel is able to accomplish this by bringing in directors of different styles and backgrounds. Guardians of the Galaxy, Black Panther, Thor: Ragnarok, Captain America: Winter Soldier, and Ant-Man are perfect examples of how this approach has worked for Marvel Studios. With this in mind, it’s hard to imagine Marvel making two spy movies less than a year apart.
How Shang-Chi Will Be Different From The Comics

For Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings to bring something new to the table, Marvel will have to look outside of the comics. Shang-Chi, a selfless, Captain America-type hero with a Zen-like philosophy, doesn’t need to change for the movie, but the people around him and the challenges he’ll face are likely to be different. There’s a good chance that most of the characters will be new regardless of Black Widow, since many of them are associated with the Fu Manchu novels that the comics are partially based on – and it seems Marvel is distancing itself from Fu Manchu, who is quite a racist character that doesn’t belong in the modern film landscape.
Also, if Marvel’s Shang-Chi movie loses the spy elements, what can be expected from the story? At its heart, the Master of Kung Fu comics are about an idealistic Chinese martial artist who uses his skills to defeat his father and his army of underlings. Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings can still do this story with the Mandarin as its villain and without involving any intelligence agencies or other elements frequently found in spy movies. Shang-Chi may ditch the comics’ MI-6 characters and double-down on the martial arts theme. According to some rumors, the movie may revolve around Shang-Chi participating in an underground martial arts tournament, which is much more in line with what audiences may typically expect from a kung fu film. This is just one way the movie can sidestep the espionage side of Shang-Chi’s comics. At any rate, Marvel’s track record for making unique movies and Black Widow provide evidence that Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings will take the Master of Kung Fu in a new direction that will differentiate it from the classic comics.
More: How Coronavirus Will Affect The Marvel Cinematic Universe

Key Release Dates

Eternals (2020)Release date: Nov 06, 2020
Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings (2021)Release date: Feb 12, 2021
Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness (2021)Release date: May 07, 2021
Thor: Love and Thunder (2021)Release date: Nov 05, 2021
Black Panther 2 (2022)Release date: May 06, 2022
Spider-Man: Homecoming 3 (2021)Release date: Jul 16, 2021

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About The AuthorNicholas Raymond is a staff features writer for Screen Rant. He has a degree in journalism from the University of Montevallo. He is the author of the psychological thriller and time travel novel, “A Man Against the World.” Nicholas’ love for telling stories is inspired by his love for film noir, westerns, superhero movies, classic films, foreign cinema, and wuxia. He also has interests in ancient history. His favorite actors are Tyrone Power, Charlton Heston, and Eleanor Parker. His favorite film is Casablanca, and his favorite director is Alfred Hitchcock. He can be reached by email at cnrmail@bellsouth.net and on Twitter at @cnraymond91.
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