A new trailer for Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings is here, this one showing off even more Tony Leung—inject that man’s presence into my veins, please—and Michelle Yeoh, but less Awkwafina. The first trailer was the introduction to the style of Shang-Chi, and this trailer is giving us a little more to go on with his backstory. We get from this that the “Ten Rings” are actual rings, they’re bracelets—magical, alien, who knows—that the Mandarin wears and uses as weapons. We learn that Something Happened to Shang-Chi’s mom, and at some point in his life, Shang comes to see his father not as a great man but as “just a criminal”. So, Shang is aware that his dad is the bad guy. Good. I’m glad we’re not wasting time on that. The Mandarin is one of Marvel Comics’ marquee villains, there’s no point prevaricating and trying to sell the idea that he’s NOT the bad guy. Just lean in. Go full baddie.
Besides getting a look at the power of the Ten Rings, though, we also see some mystical elements weaving into the story. There’s a quick glimpse of a lion-beast, and a dragon—who is not Fin Fang Foom but might be the Great Protector—and Shang maybe has some innate elemental powers? That’s not in the comics, unless this is how they’re going to explain the mystical “chi” and what Shang can do with it. If you’re thinking that sounds like Iron Fist, you’re not wrong! But Shang is the superior character because he’s not whitewashed. I suspect we might see some of the Netflix-Marvel characters revived in the MCU, like Krysten Ritter’s Jessica Jones and Charlie Cox’s Daredevil, but I highly doubt they bother to bring back Finn Jones as Iron Fist. No one is checking for him, and now we have Shang-Chi to be the master of martial arts for the MCU. It’s better.
I continue to like the look of Shang-Chi, but I still wonder how these trailers play to the uninitiated viewer, which is going to be most people. I get that Marvel doesn’t want to give too much away, but Shang is not a well-known character outside of the comics, you’re going to have to lay a little track for the audience. But Marvel does this sometimes. They know everyone is going to show up anyway, so they go soft on context in trailers. They could probably just show a picture of Simu Liu and Tony Leung and the title card and call it a day, and people would still show up for Shang-Chi. It’s the way of Marvel. At least for now. We’re getting four Marvel movies this year, all between July and December, plus five Disney+ shows (Hawkeye and Ms. Marvel are due later this year). That’s nine Marvel things in one year. I know we got none last year, but that still feels like a lot. Are we finally reaching superhero oversaturation?