Marvel announced this week that it is producing a film about the character Shang-Chi, a kung fu master within the company’s comics. However, it is very likely that you have never heard of it. Learn more about the character below.
Shang-Chi was introduced to Marvel comics in 1973 and was created by Steve Englehart and Jim Starlin as a way to take advantage of the popularity of martial arts on account of the legendary actor Bruce Lee. At this time, the company was experiencing a fertile period of stories.
Shang-Chi was introduced as the son of Fu Manchu, a character in the literary tales of the writer Sax Rohmer, after Marvel got the rights to the work. He was trained by his father’s henchmen to become the master of kung fu, but when he found out that he wanted to turn him into a murderer, he decided to use his punches and kicks to dismantle Fu Manchu’s criminal empire.
A near-instant success for Marvel, Shang-Chi won his own series within the company’s comics, which ended in 1983, after 125 editions. In the end, the hero managed to defeat his father and decided to retire from this life, becoming a fisherman. He soon had to return to active duty, but as Marvel lost its license to use Fu Manchu, the origins of the kung fu master changed a little: his father was actually Zheng Zhu, whereas Fu Machu was just one criminal name.
Since the completion of his original series, Shang-Chi has never starred in his own comic and has been restricted to appearances by Marvel team comics or miniseries. But because he is considered the leading martial artist in Marvel history (for the Iron Fist’s bad luck), he used his talents to train heroes like Spider-Man and Captain America, even without superhuman abilities.
Shang-Chi’s most recent comic book appearances took place in titles like Avengers (the story written by Jonathan Hickman), Dominoes and Totally Awesome Hulk.