Marvel Studios has released a stunning first trailer for Shan-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings, giving us a glimpse of what promises to be an interesting film….. I hope it doesn’t become the new Mulan. Anyway, a few characters make an appearance, of course, but we’ll have to wait for most of them, as their actual identity and/or relevance to the characters in the comic is still being debated. Just look at the main character himself, Shang-Chi, played by Simu Liu (Dallas Liu as a child): the son of a (real) mandarin, Shang-Chi left his father and his criminal empire hoping to live a normal life away from his shadow, but he discovered he couldn’t escape his past for long. In the comics, Shang-Chi is the son of another Chinese supervillain and never really tried to live a normal life….. but the general idea is the same. Let’s meet the kung fu master.

Shang Chi was born in Hunan, China, the son of Zheng Zu, a warlord, sorcerer and criminal known in the West as Fu Manzhou. His mother was an unnamed woman, a white American, genetically selected as the ideal mate to produce a worthy heir for Zheng Zi. Shang-Chi grew up in his father’s palace, the House of the Deadly Hand, and from childhood was rigorously trained in the best martial arts in the world to become the perfect invincible weapon with which his father could defeat his many enemies. However, in order to obtain the cooperation of such a young boy, Zheng Ju deceived him, and while he was pursuing world domination, he pretended to be a kind-hearted humanist to his son: He told her that he needed her strength to fight the many evil criminals who wanted to destroy his dream of world peace. Shang-Chi had no reason to doubt his father. Over the years he honed his skills and became one of the best warriors in the world. When the time was right, Zheng Ju sent his son on his first mission to London: An evil man, Dr. James Petrie, conspired against her and Shang Chi had to get rid of him for good. Blindly loyal to his father, the young man goes to England, finds Petrie, and kills him….. But then he meets another enemy, Sir Denis Nyland Smith, an MI6 agent who has dedicated his life to destroying Fu Manchu’s criminal empire. While talking to Smith, Shang-Chi discovered the true nature of his father’s activities, but he couldn’t believe it and fled to New York, where he found his mother and asked her for the truth. When he got it, he decided: his father had tricked and manipulated him into killing an innocent man and turning him into a weapon: he would be that weapon that turned against his creator.

Having declared war on Zheng Jiu, it was only a matter of time before the crime lord sent assassins after him, first the ninjas of the Xi-Fan Heavenly Order, then even his brother, Midnight Sun. Dismantling such an organization alone is an impossible task, so Shan Chi seeks allies within MI6 and forms a team with Sir Denis Smith and his fellow agents Black Jack Tarr, Clive Reston and especially Leiko Wu, who will become his great love. The war against Zheng Zu and his many organizations took Shang Chi all over the world, and he even met his half-sister Fah Luo Sui, who also fought alongside her father, but only to take his place as Si-fang’s leader, a position that made her an enemy or an ally of Shang Chi, depending on the situation. These games of deceit and death went on for years, and when MI6 proved too dependent on rules and bureaucracy, Shan-Chi, Smith, Reston, Wu, Tarr and Petrie (who was still alive) formed an independent spy organization (Freelance Restoration, Ltd), which they ran from Stormhaven Castle in Scotland, and which had the freedom and resources to deal with C-Fan. In the end, after many battles, defeating assassins and crushing many operations, Shang-Chi directly confronted his father and witnessed Zheng Zi’s death. However, this result did not bring Shang-Chi the peace he sought, but only guilt and bitterness: He decided to leave the world of spies, deceit and death: He left the Freedom of Restoration, abandoned his friends and exiled himself to the peaceful Yang-Tinh, where he planned to live as a fisherman and find peace in a simple life of meditation and spiritual devotion, mastering his qi to undertake an inner journey. However, the peace will not last: The world was a troubled place, and the old evil tended to come back again and again, in as many forms as one could find. We’ll always need a kung fu master.

Shan Chi is a warrior and a philosopher, a deeply peaceful man in search of inner peace and enlightenment, fighting against the circumstances he has faced since childhood, wanting to be a man and not a weapon, a peacemaker and not a hitman. As a kung fu master and brother of the Five Weapons Society, he is one of the most prominent martial arts masters in the world: Trained since birth to be the best warrior he can be, he has mastered all known disciplines, with a preference for Chinese martial arts; he is formidable both unarmed and with traditional Chinese weapons, primarily swords; total mastery of chi allows him to put inhuman force into his blows, find pressure points in his opponent to paralyze or even kill him with a simple touch, control his own nervous system to become immune to pain, and read the character of others through their life force. Shan-Chi, feared as the deadly hand of Kung Fu, is indeed a deadly human weapon, but he intends to use the skills he has honed in the name of evil only for good, to defy his destiny and become what the world needs him to be… Even if it means leaving the world he so passionately seeks.

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