The first teaser trailer for Marvel Studios' Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings is out, giving viewers an idea of the story. The villain is Wenwu, an amalgamation of two Marvel comics villains: Fu Manchu and the Mandarin.
The film is part of Phase Four of the Marvel Cinematic Universe and stars Simu Liu, Awkwafina, Tony Leung, Michelle Yeoh, and more.
Much of the plot details have been kept under wraps, with the synopsis for Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings simply stating:
When Shang-Chi is drawn into the clandestine Ten Rings organization, he is forced to confront the past he thought he left behind.
Who is the villain in Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings?
In the film, Liu's Shang-Chi is a skilled martial artist, moving away from the 20th-century racist depiction of the character in the original comics, which featured the character Fu Manchu, Shang-Chi's father as the villain.
However, the Marvel film will not be using this character for multiple reasons, partly because of the character's racist history, but also because Marvel lost the rights to use the character in its comics in 1983.
In place of Fu Manchu, viewers will instead see Wenwu, played by Tony Leung, who is also the actual identity behind the Mandarin, as the villain. In the comics, the real name behind the supervillain is unknown to this day. Mandarin previously made an appearance in Netflix's Iron Fist.
However, Mandarin will have differences as well. Producer Jonathan Schwartz told Entertainment Weekly that the Mandarin of the comics, which was built on racist tropes, will not be featured in the movie.
I think people hear 'the Mandarin' and expect a very specific kind of thing, and that may not be the thing they're getting. They're hopefully getting a more complex and layered take on the character than that name would lead you to
While Mandarin is from the comics, Wenwu is a character that has been created solely for the MCU.
What the teaser trailer tells us about Wenwu aka the Mandarin
Fans will get to see Shang-Chi's origin story unfold in Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings. Simu Liu's titular character was brought up by his father, Wenwu, to be an assassin. But in the movie, the trailer shows us that Shang-Chi has been away from his father for a while, having chosen to walk away from the life of crime. However, his past comes to haunt him.
As Shang-Chi continues to learn more about his identity, he confronts his father, Wenwu aka the Mandarin, as he is drawn into the mysterious Ten Rings organization, which his father heads.
However, Tony Leung's Mandarin will not be the one-dimensional villain of the comics, but would rather bring depth to the character, according to director Destin Daniel Cretton's interview with The Observer.
We are not looking to contribute anymore to the Asian stereotypes that we have seen both in cinema and pop culture... [Leung] is such an incredible actor and I'm excited to have him help us break some of those stereotypes
Will Shang-Chi face more than one villain?
Here's the icing on the cake, however. Shang-Chi will not be battling one or two villains, but three different bad guys in the film.
Another villain Shang-Chi would face is the Death Dealer, a warrior of the Ten Rings. In the comics, Death Dealer's real name is Li Ching-Lin and was once an MI6 agent who was secretly a double agent for Wenwu. There is no casting information available for the role yet.
Another villain that Shang-Chi appears to face is Razor Fist, played by Florian Munteanu. In the comics, the original Razor Fist was William Young, a mercenary and an assassin. Another backstory had brothers Douglas and William Scott pretending to be Razor Fist as one person. It is unclear which backstory would appear in the film.
Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings will be out in theaters on September 3, 2021. Watch the teaser trailer below.