If there’s a wild card among the upcoming entries in the Marvel Cinematic Universe mega-franchise, “Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings” is definitely underway. Its title character, portrayed by actor Simu Liu, is among the more obscure characters receiving a solo film, but that doesn’t really speak to his potential impact; after all, most Marvel movie fans had never heard of Guardians of the Galaxy, and that team managed to work their way into a trilogy while its members played significant roles in Infinity Saga.
However, Shang-Chi does not have superpowers. Instead, he is an expert-level martial artist, known as the Master of Kung Fu, and skilled in armed combat. As such, he would generally be banished to the realm of so-called street-level heroes, such as Daredevil, Punisher and others who generally operate in a designated municipality. Again, this does not mean that he can not have influence; Spider-Man is generally considered a street-level hero, and he is a member of the Avengers, some of whom would also be considered street-level heroes alone.
One of the factors that works for the “Shang-Chi” movie is … the rest of the title. The character is set to take on the mysterious Ten Rings organization. If that group sounds familiar, good, it means you were paying attention during two of the three Iron Man solo films. If it does not, it should. The Ten Rings is a reference to the literally driven jewelry worn by Mandarin in Marvel Comics. In the original “Iron Man”, Obadiah Stane (Jeff Bridges) uses the ten rings to kill Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.). Aldritch Killian (Guy Pearce) hid behind a mandarin deceiver (Sir Ben Kingsley) in Shane Black’s “Iron Man 3.” “Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings” will feature Wenwu (Tony Leung), aka the real mandarin who is the leader of the Ten Rings, Shang-Chi’s father and a formidable villain in Marvel Comics.