Simu Liu is about to make his debut in the Marvel Cinematic Universe as Shang-Chi. Some might assume that it was only in the last five or so years that Marvel Studios was itching to make Shang-Chi & The Legend of The Ten Rings. That’s really not the cast at all according to the studio.
While on the red carpet for the film’s premiere, Marvel Studios’ Kevin Feige confirmed to Variety that during his time at Marvel (joining in 2000) they had been trying to make a Shang-Chi movie for the last two decades.
“We’ve been thinking and dreaming about making a Shang-Chi movie for the entirety of the two decades that I’ve been at Marvel.”
In 2001, Blade director Stephen Norrington was reportedly attached for a feature film of Shang-Chi alongside an early incarnation of Ghost Rider too. He quietly retired after making 20th Century Fox’s The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen and headaches he had during that production. Norrington had originally wanted to cast Jet Li as Blade villain Deacon Frost but the actor was busy shooting Richard Donner’s Lethal Weapon 4. You can tell from Blade that the filmmaker was heavily influenced by Hong Kong action movies with their use of wire-work, a year before The Matrix.
DreamWorks attempted to get things going again in 2003, as Variety reported they had hired Woo-ping Yuen (True Legend) to direct and script from Band of Brothers writer Bruce McKenna. Woo-ping Yuen had been the fight choreographer for The Matrix, Kill Bill Vol.2, Kung Fu Hustle, The Forbidden Kingdom, The Grandmaster, and Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon. Oscar-winner Ang Lee (Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon, Brokeback Mountain, Life of Pi) boarded as a producer in 2004, a year after his Hulk movie was released. However, the rights to Shang-Chi eventually reverted back to Marvel.
Even before that, a Shang-Chi television series was being cooked up at Marvel.
Inverse was able to speak with former Marvel Productions CEO and President Margaret Loesch, who revealed that Stan Lee met with Bruce Lee’s son Brandon Lee (Showdown In Little Tokyo, The Crow, Rapid Fire) at the Marvel offices for a potential Shang-Chi television series in the 80s. The late Bruce Lee and his film Enter The Dragon had been the template for the martial arts superhero. Sadly, Brandon had a tragic death as he was killed during the filming of The Crow.
You have to really question what took them so long to get here, but Ike Perlmutter was notoriously dismissive of diverse projects at Marvel until he was ultimately pulled off the film division by Disney, upon the request of Kevin Feige. Suddenly, we started to see movies spring up like Black Panther, Captain Marvel, Black Widow, Shang-Chi, and Blade once Perlmutter was nix from the film side of things.
Shang-Chi hits theaters exclusively on September 3.
SHANG-CHI & THE LEGEND OF THE TEN RINGS – Marvel Studios’ “Shang-Chi and The Legend of The Ten Rings” stars Simu Liu as Shang-Chi, who must confront the past he thought he left behind when he is drawn into the web of the mysterious Ten Rings organization.
Joining Simu Liu in the Marvel cast includes Tony Leung as Wenwu, Awkwafina as Shang-Chi’s friend Katy, and Michelle Yeoh as Jiang Nan, as well as Fala Chen, Meng’er Zhang, Florian Munteanu, and Ronny Chieng. Shang-Chi and The Legend of The Ten Rings is directed by Destin Daniel Cretton and produced by Kevin Feige and Jonathan Schwartz, with Louis D’Esposito, Victoria Alonso, and Charles Newirth serving as executive producers. David Callaham & Destin Daniel Cretton & Andrew Lanham wrote the screenplay for the film, and experience it in theaters on September 3, 2021.