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‘Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings’: Release date, cast and everything we know about the MCU movie

Simu Liu in "Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings."
(Image credit: Marvel Studios)

We’re heading into a new age for the Marvel Cinematic Universe, which will unofficially kickoff with Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings, the first new superhero to join the MCU as part of phase four.

Phase four is off and running with the Disney Plus original series WandaVision, The Falcon and the Winter Soldier and Loki, as well as Black Widow. While we got some major plot points and a few new characters from these offerings, they all were centered around characters previously introduced in earlier MCU films. In the case of Black Widow, even though it was the first official film of phase four, it took place prior to the events of Avengers: Infinity War.

It’s a sure bet that fans are excited to see how Shang-Chi will expand the MCU and are ready to see the film. Here’s everything you need to know about Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings.

What is the plot of ‘Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings’?

As the first film to feature the character, Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings has a good amount of leg work to do establishing his backstory. Here's a quick primer.

Shang-Chi is an expert martial artist, raised and trained by his father Wenwu, who is the leader of an ancient organization known as the Ten Rings. When Shang-Chi discovered the dark truth about his father and the Ten Rings, he left that life behind. The movie will find Shang-Chi’s new life colliding with his past, forcing him to confront his father.

Who is in the ‘Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings’ cast?

Shang-Chi is the first Marvel movie to star an Asian superhero, with Simu Liu taking on the title role. This is by far Liu’s biggest role to date, whose career been primarily in TV with shows like Canada’s Kim’s Convenience (available on Netflix) and appearances on Fresh Off the Boat and Awkwafina is Nora from Queens.

Speaking of Awkwafina, the actor-comedian also stars in Shang-Chi, playing Shang-Chi’s love interest, Katy.

Fans are also likely to recognize Tony Chiu-Wai Leung (The Grandmaster, In the Mood for Love) and Michelle Yeoh (Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, Crazy Rich Asians). Leung will be playing Wenwu, Shang-Chi’s father and leader of the Ten Rings, while Yeoh is playing Ying Nan, Shang-Chi’s mentor.

Additional cast members include Florian Munteanu, Fala Chen, Dallas Liu, Ronny Chieng, Meng’er Zhang and Fernando Chien.

Who is the ‘Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings’ director?

Destin Daniel Cretton is the director tasked with bringing Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings to the big screen. He also served as the writer along with Dave Callaham and Andrew Lanham.

This will be Cretton’s first movie for the MCU and the first true action movie that he has directed. He’s made a name for himself with excellent films like Short Term 12 and Just Mercy.

When is the ‘Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings’ release date?

Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings has been part of the shifting release schedule that has impacted so many films over the last year and a half. Originally expected to hit theaters on May 7, 2021, it was first pushed to July 9, 2021. However, some more movement ended up putting Black Widow in that spot. After all the shuffling, Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings will premiere on Sept. 3.

Unlike Black Widow, Shang-Chi is not going to be available on Disney Plus through Premier Access, as it will have an exclusive run in theaters. Premier Access brought in tens of millions of dollars for the movies that utilized it (as well as some controversy), but at least for now Disney has no plans to make any more of its movies available with Premier Access.

Is there a ‘Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings’ trailer?

We’ve had a couple of trailers for Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings thus far. We got the first trailer for Shang-Chi back in April, heavily focused on the action, while a second trailer dug more into the backstory of the character. You can watch that second trailer below. 

Are there 'Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings' reviews?

Critics have started to weigh in on the latest MCU movie, and reviews have been pretty good so far for Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings. Broadly, the film currently (as of Aug. 25) sits at a 92% on Rotten Tomatoes and is Certified Fresh, while its Metacritic score is a respectable 71.

What to Watch's own Amelia Emberwing praised Shang-Chi for its fight choreography as well as the performances from Simu Liu, Awkwafina and others in the cast, while describing the film as "a fresh origin of a hero we're yet to see on screen." Read the full review here.

How does ‘Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings’ fit into the MCU?

Part of the draw of the Marvel Cinematic Universe is that producer Kevin Feige has been able to have each project have connective threads to one another. Even though this will be the first appearance of Shang-Chi in the MCU, there’s already a few ways that we know the film connects to past entries in the MCU.

The first thing is the Ten Rings organization itself. This one goes all the way back to the beginning of the MCU. The terrorists that capture Tony Stark and keep him prisoner in the first Iron Man are members of the Ten Rings. The group also appears in Iron Man 3, as it and a fake Mandarin, the organization’s leader, are used by Aldrich Killian to cover-up his Extremis experiments. Shang-Chi will give us the most in-depth look into the Ten Rings organization yet.

We also know that we’re getting a couple appearances from some other MCU characters. As you can see in the trailer, a cage fight occurs with a monstrous, Hulk-like creature. That is Abomination (played by Tim Roth), the villain from The Incredible Hulk. In addition, IMDb confirms that Benedict Wong is set to appear in the film as his Doctor Strange character Wong. If there are any other cameos they are being kept under lock and key.

The other big question for Shang-Chi is where does it take place in the MCU timeline? Loki set things into motion that we know will have a direct impact on some upcoming Marvel movies, but Shang-Chi doesn’t appear to be one of them. Probably safe to assume that it takes place after the events of Avengers: Endgame, but we’ll have to wait to see how/if any other MCU events impact the film.

How to watch the MCU films?

If you want to catch up with the MCU to this point, there’s a couple of ways to do it. First, you can watch them in the order that they were released, starting all the way back with 2008’s Iron Man. The other option is to watch them as they fit in the MCU’s timeline. This one is a bit more complicated, but we laid it out for you right here.

Also: How to watch all the Marvel movies releasing in 2021

As far as where to watch them, nearly all MCU films are available to stream on Disney Plus. Missing from Disney Plus are the Tom Holland Spider-Man films.

Michael Balderston

Michael Balderston is a D.C.-based entertainment writer and content producer for What to Watch. He previously has written for TV Technology and Awards Circuit.