When Marvel Studios set out to make a film about little-known comic hero Shang-Chi, many fans wondered how the company would manage to put such a minor character at the forefront of their cinematic universe. It seems that Marvel Studios has taken cues from the recent relaunch of the character from 2015’s Secret Wars, in which a multiversal collision leads to the creation of multiple new realities. One of these garden-fresh worlds presents an updated take on Shang-Chi, where his father Fu Manchu (really) got replaced by the Mandarin and his Eurocentric world is swapped for a wuxia-inspired fantasyland.
The mini-series was popular with fans and led to the Master of Martial Arts receiving a larger role in the mainstream Marvel Universe. An array of rumors and fan theories have the character’s MCU future adapting multiple parts of his comic history. Now that we finally got our first glimpse confirming the modern inspiration, it also opens up brand new avenues for the franchise to expand. So, without further ado, here’s how the endlessly charismatic Simu Liu can effectively take his place as your new favorite Marvel hero.
Shang-Chi and the Agents of Atlas
It has been heavily rumored that Marvel intends to bring the Agents of Atlas to life following the release of Shang-Chi, and there is a chance the project comes to fruition as a Disney+ series between Shang-Chi films. The titular superhero team was originally brought together by Jimmy Woo after he took over a secret underground society called the Atlas Foundation. In recent comics, Shang-Chi was recruited, quickly becoming one of their most respected members. The “agent” title was not something new to Shang-Chi, who was once a part of England’s MI-6 after frequent team-ups with many of their high-ranking constituents. Some of those MI-6 agents are reportedly set to appear in Ten Rings, so the end of the film may see Liu‘s hero join their ranks.
If he does join MI-6 at the end of his solo adventure, he would more than likely be considered one of the world’s most capable government agents. Therefore, if Randall Park‘s Jimmy Woo should discover a post-WandaVision anomaly involving the mysterious Atlas Foundation, it makes sense that Shang-Chi would join his investigation. We’ve seen hints at Woo’s potential as a leader at the tail end of the latest Disney+ series. There is a chance that he and Shang-Chi might end up fighting for the leadership role. While the series would be more of an ensemble piece, it wouldn’t be hard for the hypothetical Disney+ project to lead into a more Shang-Chi-centric storyline in the future.
Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Iron Fist
Perhaps the most exciting possibility for a Shang-Chi sequel, and a popular one among fans, would be the introduction of Iron Fist and the magical world of K’un-L’un. If Marvel Studios wanted to take this route, they could ´´ continue drawing from the same alternate reality they decided to base Legend of the Ten Rings on. Shang-Chi and Danny Rand participate in a tournament to decide K’un-L’un’s fate, fighting side-by-side to end the contest and Mandarin’s master plans. Of course, a direct adaptation of this might not mesh with what we know about the MCU. Yet, combining elements of this plot with elements of Matt Fraction‘s The Immortal Iron Fist run could make for a compelling sequel story.
In his comics, Danny Rand got summoned to participate in the Tournament of the Seven Heavenly Cities. Each of the cities presented a champion with Rand representing his home. They fought for honor in a competition held once in a century. Iron Fist quickly discovered that the leader of K’un-L’un was corrupt and had sold out the Heavenly City to a foe in the outside world. Rand successfully leads an uprising, but not without the help of his fellow combatants and some friends on Earth.
Since K’un-L’un’s doors only open every ten years, it wouldn’t be far-fetched to assume they’d been closed for the duration of the MCU’s first three phases. Upon their opening, the Agents of Atlas could discover K’un-L’un’s existence with Shang-Chi volunteering to investigate the realm incognito. Once inside, our protagonist might get pulled into participating in the Heavenly Cities’ tournament, coming head-to-head with Iron Fist and the Immortal Weapons. A natural progression would be for Shang-Chi and Danny Rand to become quick friends, with the former eventually helping the latter takedown K’un-L’un’s corrupt leadership. It would be a great way for the MCU to expand the mythology of their world while continuing the through-line of martial arts tournaments and wuxia-inspired cinematography.