Comics: 6 reasons why Shang-chi is one of Marvel’s coolest characters

MANILA, PHILIPPINES —The Marvel Cinematic Universe‘s latest offering Shang-Chi (pronounced ‘shaahng-chee’) and the Ten Rings is defying commercial expectations (it has the biggest box office opening for a September US release)! How did a “C-List” character that barely anyone has heard of (outside of a Marvel comic book fan) beat the odds? Comic Book Guy JV traces the character’s coolness to the source material.

1. Modeled after Bruce Lee: Shang first debuted back in 1973 in a Marvel title called Special Marvel Edition #15 (he then jumped to his own series called Master of Kung Fu). He was created thanks to the popularity of martial arts movies at the time. Artist Paul Gulacy’s character design for Shang-Chi was inspired by Bruce Lee, the martial arts movie star himself.

2. Mad Kung Fu Skills: He may a regular human but Shang’s proficiency in martial arts is at the highest level he can actually go toe-to-toe with some of Marvel most popular superheroes such as Wolverine, Captain America, and even Iron Man! In the past, he’s even mentored Spider-Man, teaching him to become a better fighter!


3. Represent!: The 70s was a time when white characters dominated the comic book scene and Asian characters were stereotypical sidekicks, Shang was a notable exception who carried his own title. Like Black Panther before him, he helped pave the way for more diversity in comic book entertainment and gave Asian readers a more relatable hero.

4. Zen Under Pressure: Shang’s defining trait is his grace and ease in handling superhuman threats. He’s unflappable in the face of danger, which is more than can be said for heroes like Iron Man and Spider-Man, who use humor as a coping mechanism.

5. Father Issues: Spidey lost Uncle Ben. Hulk’s father was an abusive sociopath. Thor and Odin’s relationship is stormy. But they’ve got nothing on Shang-Chi! In the comics, Zheng Zhu, Shang’s father is an evil immortal sorcerer. After Shang discovers how evil his father is, he spends a lot of time escaping him and thwarting his world-domination plans

6. Marvel Connections: Shang has been a member of both the Avengers and the Secret Avengers. He also leads the Agents of Atlas, a team comprised of Asian superheroes (including our very own, Wave!). Oh, he’s also connected to MI-6, the British intelligence agency.

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