Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings is the first MCU Phase 4 film or television series to focus on a new character. There are some MCU films to see before Shang-chi. Also, it does contain ties to previous Marvel Cinematic Universe films. Shang-Chi was one of the characters in Marvel Studios’ original loan when they were still planning all of the Phase 1 movies. But it took over two decades for him to make his big-screen debut. Although the entire Infinity Saga has come and gone, Shang-Chi has finally arrived; and with the right people both in front of and behind the camera.
The truth is, while Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings is a brand-new tale in an undiscovered portion of the MCU (and Earth); it has a lot of references to the MCU’s past, particularly the beginning. It’s rewarding to watch every MCU film because of how large and pioneering it has been for Hollywood. However, for newbies, it would be quite a task. There are 24 MCU films before Shang-Chi, with more than a dozen more on the way.
However, there are some MCU films that fans can watch before watching Shang-Chi. It is to gain a better understanding of the primary backstories Furthermore, from the first MCU film, Iron Man, to the most recent, Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings, there is a basic thematic throughline.
MCU films to see before Shang-chi
Iron Man not only established the Marvel Cinematic Universe, but it also introduced the Ten Rings organization to the series. At first glance, the Ten Rings appeared to be a typical terrorist organization, largely to capitalize on the ongoing war in Afghanistan. Despite having a little appearance in the film, the organization played a significant influence in the overall tale and Tony Stark’s eventual transformation into the superhero Iron Man. The Ten Rings kidnapped Tony at the direction of Obadiah Stane. He truly wanted Tony dead, to get Stark Industries weapons. But the Ten Rings understood the target they had and demanded more money.
The Ten Rings continued to work with Obadiah Stane when Tony escaped using the Mark I Iron Man suit but they eventually were defeated when Tony fully transformed into Iron Man. They featured in the film at various stages. Their actual impact on the plot was not clear until much later. Iron Man is essential viewing to gain a sense of the Ten Rings organization and their ambitions, as well as to learn a little about their history. The Ten Rings may have begun hundreds, if not thousands, of years ago. But they went to tremendous lengths to gain power and control over the years, as appearing in the opening part of Iron Man.
The Incredible Hulk
Emil Blonsky or Abomination, surprisingly, is one of the few characters who return in Shang-Chi. Tim Roth played Emil in The Incredible Hulk, the MCU’s only standalone Hulk film. He even appeared in The Avengers alongside Edward Norton, who was recast with Mark Ruffalo (and every consecutive film featuring Hulk). General Thaddeus Ross and the United States government spent the majority of the film attempting to apprehend Bruce Banner as Hulk. The adversary Hulk ultimately faced was Abomination, who nearly wiped out the whole city of Harlem.
The World Security Council urged SHIELD to enroll Abomination into Nick Fury’s Avenger Initiative sometime after the big story of the film. Thankfully, this was avoided, and instead, Hulk became a member of the team. Fans are wondering what happened to Abomination (after he was imprisoned) ever since. Finally, thanks to Shang-Chi, viewers will learn where he is currently. It’s been confirmed that Abomination appears in Shang-Chi. But to truly understand who and what he is, fans should go back to the beginning and watch The Incredible Hulk. Hulk came out just a few months after Iron Man.
Iron Man 3
Iron Man 3 is the film that most closely resembles Shang-Chi. It features the Ten Rings as the major villain and the Mandarin as their leader. In many ways, the Shang-Chi villain’s backstory is a way of resolving the infamous Mandarin twist from Iron Man 3. Aldrich Killian revealed himself to be the real Mandarin; while Ben Kingsley’s Trevor Slattery was a doppelganger playing a part in disguise (showing off Kingsley’s incredible acting range). Trevor only wanted to get a good acting job, but he was fooled by a real terrorist.
Wenwu, played by Tony Leung, is the actual Mandarin. The inspiration for the entire Ten Rings tale and organization in Iron Man 3 (at least according to the comics). It’s been established that Kingsley will reprise his role as Trevor Slattery in Shang-Chi, continuing the twist and possibly resolving it satisfyingly; hence, if there’s one film to watch before Shang-Chi, it’s this one. Iron Man 3 serves as a sort of prelude to Shang-Chi, elaborating on the events of Iron Man; while keeping the door open for Wenwu’s appearance in Shang-Chi years later. Even just seeing all of Kingsley’s scenes as Trevor would be worth your time (or rewatch).
Benedict Wong will reprise his role as Wong. He first played in Doctor Strange and repeated in Avengers: Infinity War and Avengers: Endgame, according to the Shang-Chi promos and marketing. Doctor Strange’s best (and possibly only) friend is Wong, one of the Masters of the Mystic Arts. After Endgame, he also appears to be deeply entrenched in the superhero world.
He’s facing Abomination in a tournament in the trailers; the reason for this is not clear until the film releases. But knowing who Wong is and what he’s capable of would be key to understanding how he could go up against one of Earth’s most powerful beings. Fighting someone on Hulk’s level would be risky; even Thor struggled to remain alive in Thor: Ragnarok’s battle with Hulk. However, based on the trailers, Wong appears to be holding his own. In both Avengers flicks, Wong battled alongside Doctor Strange in the battle against Kaecelius. He assisted him in defending Earth from Thanos’ Black Order and army. In the new film, Wong’s story is likely to be linked to Shang- Chi’s. So seeing Doctor Strange might help clarify some of the intricacies around his presence.
In Avengers: Infinity War, Thanos’ snap changed everything; half of the universe’s life vanished in an instant; leaving those who remained to pick up the pieces and carry on. Some people suffered more than others, and some even sought retribution. In Avengers: Endgame, everyone who blipped away reappeared, but the harm had already been done. Five years had passed, and the world had altered dramatically; everyone knew they may be killed at any moment, which had a significant impact on Phase 4 storylines. Shang-Chi is an influence of those occurrences to some level as well.
Shang-Chi, like most of the other Phase 4 movies and series, takes place after Endgame, except for Black Widow. Endgame isn’t a big deal in Shang-chi’s plot. But it’s vital to know where everything fits in, especially when it comes to the MCU’s general timeline and Shang-role Chi’s within it. Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings will have an impact on the MCU’s future. Therefore all viewers should be aware of what’s going on in the background and why certain characters emerge while others don’t.
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