shang-chi and the legend of the ten rings trailer breakdown

The official trailer for Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings is here, and its full of incredible feats of martial arts, incredible father issues, and Incredible Hulk villains. Learn all about the various Marvel Easter eggs and plot details in our Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings trailer breakdown.

Introduced in Iron Man, the Ten Rings was presented as a mysterious terrorist organization dedicated to destroying world peace by any means necessary, led by a shadowy figure known as the Mandarin. The history of the Ten Rings is shrouded in mystery, but some believe that the Mandarin inspired generations of men since the Middle Ages, or even further back in time. And this shot of an ancient war flag with the Ten Rings insignia, only with Chinese characters in the rings instead of the Arabic symbols that are seen in the flags that show up in the Iron Man movies, suggests as much.

Of course, there’s a whole complicated history with the Mandarin both in Marvel Comics and the Marvel Cinematic Universe, but Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings appears to be zeroing in on the “real” Mandarin with Tony Leung‘s enigmatic antagonist Wenwu, the father of Simu Liu‘s Shang-Chi. Based on this trailer, Wenwu has had a long, long life, stretching back to antiquity. Here he can be seen, long-haired and sporting traditional armor, wielding the titular Ten Rings against an army that looks it hails from Imperial China.

The Ten Rings are more literal than we might have initially thought, since the name also refers to the terrorist organization. But it looks like it’s an actual weapon, passed down through Shang-Chi’s family, which allows them to conquer armies with massive blasts of blue energy.

“Throughout my life, the Ten Rings gave our family power,” Wenwu tells a young Shang-Chi in the trailer. “If you want them to be yours one day, you have to show me you’re strong enough to carry them.” Considering the agelessness of the character (and the agelessness of Leung), it’s probably not wrong to assume that Wenwu is immortal, and has been wielding the Ten Rings for thousands of years. This is a departure from the depiction of the character in the comics, but it will probably provide a nice twist for when Shang-Chi discovers the truth of his inheritance.

Martial arts cinema legend Michelle Yeoh (who has appeared in the MCU before as a Aleta Ogord in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2) is here as Jiang Nan, a new character created for the movie. She appears to be a mentor of sorts to Shang-Chi, telling him, “You are a product of all who came before you. The legacy of your family. You are your mother, and whether you like it or not, you are also your father.”

Shang-Chi seems to have assembled a team to face off against Wenwu and his army, including Awkwafina‘s Katy, Shang-Chi’s friend who was unaware of his past until it comes crashing back into his life. It’s unclear who the two other characters are, but they both look to be women — one of them might be Yeoh’s Jiang Nan.

We get a glimpse of Shang-Chi’s training from a young age, forced to take hits from Wenwu’s warriors while shirtless in the freezing cold. It appears to be at the same temple which an adult Shang-Chi approaches with his friends.

This is our first look in the trailer of a neon-lit casino of sorts, which we’ll later see contains an underground fighting ring. It seems like Shang-Chi will enter the ring at one point to fight against all kinds of ruthless warriors, with Katy cheerily supporting him. But the casino appears to come under attack, with all the patrons fleeing in fear.

We get a fight sequence in a neon-lit cityscape, which seems to take place in the same location as the casino considering the similar purple lighting. Shang-Chi fights off an army of Wenwu’s masked warriors, flashing back to his training as a child with the same ruthless fighters. He manages to barely survive after a fall out a high-rise’s window, which earns him the praise of his father, who reveals that he sent the warriors against Shang-Chi to test him.

Reunited with his dad, and it feels so bad. Shang-Chi rejects Wenwu’s attempts to bring him into the fold of his criminal organization, telling his father, “But you’re just a criminal who murders people,” to which Wenwu bristles. But it seems that Shang-Chi manages to part ways with his father to seek out Jiang Nan, who shows him a new way of fighting — Yeoh getting to display some of those wuxia-inspired visuals that we saw in the first trailer. However, this training sequence might be interrupted by Wenwu, who appears in the same grassy, bamboo-enclosed space that we just saw Shang-Chi and Jiang Nan in, wielding those Ten Rings once again.

Shang-Chi’s group seems to have grown to include Florian Munteanu’s Razor Fist, a skilled martial arts fighter with steel for hands sent to assassinate Shang-Chi, as we see in a later fight scene aboard a bus. But since the white-jacketed man is likely Wenwu, we can assume that this is Wenwu and his grunts showing his son around his complex before a big climactic battle.

Here we see Razor Fist’s steel blade hands in action, nearly chopping Shang-Chi’s head off before he skillfully dodges the attack. In the comics, Razor Fist is an identity taken by three different characters, two of which were brothers, all of whom worked as bodyguards or assassins for various villains.

This fight scene is an extended look at the battle that showed up in the first trailer, and involves Shang-Chi getting thrown out of the bus window.

We get our first look at Shang-Chi fighting in the ring in some kind of underground martial arts tournament against Meng’er Zhang‘s Xialing, who, according to leaked plot details, is Shang-Chi’s estranged sister and Wenwu’s daughter. According to more leaked plot details, the winner of the tournament will reportedly become the rightful bearer of the Ten Rings. But take that with the necessary grain of salt typically applied to stuff like that.

Here is our first look at a dragon called the “Great Protector,” according to Shang-Chi tie-in toys. But the dragon, which Shang-Chi encounters while submerged underwater, bears a resemblance to comic book villain (with a borderline racist name) Fin Fang Foom, AKA “He Whose Limbs Shatter Mountains and Whose Back Scrapes the Sun.” An alien that hails from the distant planet of Kakaranthara, Fin Fang Foom came to Earth with several other members of his race, also known as the Makluans, which is what first brought the Ten Rings of Power to Earth, where they fell into the hands of the Mandarin.

Liu has shot down rumors that Fin Fang Foom will appear, referring to the dragon as one of the “questionable elements” from the comics — and considering how its name sounds like a caricature of a Chinese-sounding name, Liu is right to say it. Still, it’s possible that Shang-Chi will pull from the comic origins of Fin Fang Foom and just forego the (again, extremely terrible) name altogether.

Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings brings us ultimately to a fight between father and son, and between the Ten Rings and whatever weapon that Shang-Chi is wielding, which emits a yellow light to Wenwu’s blue light. This probably wasn’t intentional, but that color scheme is very Avatar: The Last Airbender.

And finally, here’s the big talking point of the new trailer: the Abomination from The Incredible Hulk. Originally portrayed by Tim Roth in the 2008 film, the Abomination is the Russian-born British Royal Marine who injected himself with super-soldier serum and Bruce Banner’s Gamma-radiated blood, transforming him into a bloodthirsty monster. He’s defeated by Hulk and placed in cryostasis, but it seems that someone has unleashed him into the underground fighting tournament, pitting him against someone who appears to be Benedict Wong‘s Wong from Doctor Strange. It appears he’ll be the big boss battle Shang-Chi will have to win in order to advance in the tournament.

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Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings is due to hit theaters on September 3, 2021.

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