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Small Details You Missed In The Shang-Chi And The Legend Of The Ten Rings Teaser Trailer

In a move that proves Simu Liu has already learned the art of trickery that Marvel Studios requires of its actors, the Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings star told fans on Monday, April 19 that a trailer for the upcoming movie would drop in "a few weeks," only for the first teaser trailer for the film to hit the internet mere minutes later. Marvel Studios played the reveal off as a surprise for Liu, whose 32nd birthday is today, tweeting alongside the trailer reveal, "Happy Birthday @SimuLiu! We hope you enjoy your birthday present." But we have a sneaking suspicion Liu was in on it all along — it's par for the course for the ever-secretive, always-sneaky Marvel, especially after dealing with the expert spoiler-spiller Tom Holland in years past. 

Directed by Short Term 12 and Just Mercy filmmaker Destin Daniel Cretton, Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings stars Liu as the titular character, a keen martial artist who trains under the shadowy Ten Rings organization. That's was his reality as a child: working to become the most skilled, dangerous martial artist and assassin imaginable. However, now that Shang-Chi is older, he's attempting to establish a normal life in San Francisco, California. But everything changes after Shang-Chi has been in California for ten years — the amount of time that his father gave him to "live [his] life." It's not long before Shang-Chi gets pulled back into the world he tried hard to leave behind.

The teaser trailer for Shang-Chi offers a rough sketch of the film's premise, keeping things delightfully mysterious to allow fans to pick apart the footage and identify every small detail they can spot. From characters you might be confused about to Shang-Chi's powers, here are the small details you may have missed in Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings' teaser trailer.

Who is Awkwafina's Shang-Chi character?

The Shang-Chi teaser trailer makes it clear from the get-go that the character played by Awkwafina is a very important one. She's seen at the hotel-slash-resort that Shang-Chi works at, grabbing drinks and singing karaoke (more on that in a bit) with him, and later crashing a bus through San Francisco as Shang-Chi fights a baddie. Even if Marvel told us nothing official about Awkwafina's Shang-Chi character, what we see of her in the teaser trailer proves that she's Shang-Chi's close pal who knows absolutely nothing about his past life working as an assassin-in-training under the Ten Rings. (This is evidenced by the fact that when Shang-Chi kicks some villain butt on the bus, she responds, "Who are you?!")

Thankfully, both Marvel and Awkwafina have actually told us a bit about the character. Her name is Katy, and Awkwafina can't wait for fans to meet her. "There's a little bit of me in every character I play, which is a good and bad thing. I do feel like I can relate to her," the actress told StyleCaster in a December 2020 interview. "She is thrust into a world where she doesn't really know what to do. At the same time, she's discovering things about herself. [...] I'm really excited for people to see [the movie]."

Awkwafina also admitted that she "can't say much about the role," which could suggest that there might be more to Katy than meets the eye. Or it may be that Awkwafina is simply abiding by Marvel's zero-tolerance policy on spoilers. Or maybe she has some kind of connection to a character we saw in Spider-Man: Homecoming. Behind her on the bus is a guy who looks almost exactly like the one who famously told Spider-Man to "do a flip!" in the 2017 movie, but that might be nothing more than a coincidence.

Regardless of whether Katy's the everyday friend to balance out Shang-Chi's larger-than-life superhero adventures or if she has some secrets of her own, having a super-talented star like Awkwafina in your movie basically guarantees a good time.

Karaoke time

Early on in the film's teaser trailer, Shang-Chi and Katy are seen at a karaoke bar. It's a sweet moment to establish their friendship — nothing better to bond two people than having one too many drinks and singing off-key in front of a bunch of strangers — but it actually holds more meaning than you might realize. If you look at the screen behind Shang-Chi and Katy, you'll see that it reads, "Over sideways and under." These are lyrics from a Disney classic: "A Whole New World," the defining tune from 1992's Aladdin.

Since the Walt Disney Company owns Marvel Studios and all its properties, Shang-Chi and Katy singing "A Whole New World" makes for a fun little nod to the huge universe under Mickey Mouse control. Plus, Shang-Chi star Awkwafina also recently voiced the dragon Sisu in Walt Disney Animation Studios' Raya and the Last Dragon, which marked the first Disney film featuring a Southeast Asian princess, so she's already Disney royalty. Additionally, Aladdin is one of the very few non-white stories from the Disney Renaissance era of animation, so the reference to it in the Shang-Chi teaser trailer highlights the importance of diverse narratives.

In terms of its connection to Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings, "A Whole New World" ties into the movie's theme of being stuck between two different worlds, just as the titular Aladdin does in his own film. Shang-Chi has two lives — as a Ten-Rings-trained assassin and as a normal guy working at a hotel in California — and the two are going to collide in major ways. Those who know him from one life will be brought into the "whole new world" of the other, and we can't wait to see how it plays out.

Say hello to Shang-Chi's father, Wenwu

One of Iron Man 3's better plot twists reveals that the Mandarin, the supposed leader of the Ten Rings terrorist organization, is actually an out-of-work actor (played by Ben Kingsley) that A.I.M. hired to pretend the accidental Extremis explosions were terrorist attacks. The trailer for Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings shows that there is, in fact, a real MCU Mandarin — but he isn't as comic readers remember him.

In the comics, Shang-Chi has two claims to fame: He's a master martial artist, and he's the son of the immortal Chinese sorcerer Zheng Zu (think Mortal Kombat's Shang Tsung, right down to a love of disguises), who also goes by the name "Fu Manchu." However, in the MCU, Shang-Chi is the son of Wenwu, the man who narrates the movie's trailer. Marvel doesn't have the rights to Fu Manchu, and has chosen not to try to include the character in any of its projects considering the controversy surrounding and racist stereotypes associated with him.

More importantly, the Shang-Chi teaser trailer implies that Wenwu is actually the Mandarin, who appears in front of a wall with a circle of ten rings on it at the 1:00 mark. Based on what's shown in the teaser trailer, Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings' Mandarin appears to be an amalgamation of the original comic incarnation, who uses ten rings of power (which are armbands in the movie), and Zheng Zu.

Since A.I.M. used the name of the Mandarin and his organization, the Ten Rings, to cover their tracks in Iron Man 3, could we possibly see the fake Mandarin come face-to-face with the real one? Only time will tell.

The man in the mask is the Death Dealer

At several points in the Shang-Chi teaser trailer, there's a man wearing a black, white, and red mask. The footage doesn't reveal the man's identity, but some quick internet sleuthing tells us that he's the Death Dealer, aka Li Ching-Lin, clearly one of the adversaries Shang-Chi will take on during the film.

In the Marvel comics, Li is an MI6 agent who works undercover for Fu Manchu. After Li is deemed too dangerous, the director of MI6 tasks Shang-Chi with taking out the agent, enlisting the help of in-universe British police commissioner Denis Nayland Smith as well. Shang-Chi defeats Li in combat, but the latter is able to get away. Fu Manchu, at this point renamed Zheng Zu, eventually gives Li the nickname "the Death Dealer." Shang-Chi and the Death Dealer go on to face off against one another several times in the comics, with our hero coming out victorious in their last battle in China, during which the former sets his foe ablaze.

The comic history between the enemies isn't lengthy, so we expect to see an expansion on the pair's brief story in Shang-Chi. Since most of the Death Dealer's story in the comics revolves around his relationship with Fu Manchu, it's likely his backstory will get a serious overhaul in the film given that Marvel Studios is leaving Fu Manchu out of its projects due to his racist history. The Mandarin will apparently be the movie's big bad and will be connected to Li somehow, likely in a working relationship.

In the teaser trailer, the Death Dealer is training Shang-Chi while he's a young boy, whipping him on his back as he tries to perfect him. It appears as if the Death Dealer is working with Shang-Chi at the direction of his father the Mandarian, which would make the Death Dealer a member of the terrorist organization the Ten Rings. It also looks like the Death Dealer's student will eventually become the master, as the pair come to blows twice in the trailer — with one fight sequence involving some Bucky Barnes-esque knife skills.

The guy with the sword for a hand? That's Razor Fist

There are plenty of characters who make indelible impressions in the new Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings teaser trailer. But one in particular is incredibly memorable despite only appearing a handful of times — emphasis on "handful." At 0:52 and then again at about 1:23, a dude with a literal sword for a hand shows up to make trouble for Shang-Chi. If you're wondering who this sharp fellow is, he's none other than the MCU version of Marvel Comics villain Razor Fist. Is that name extremely on the nose? Yes. Yes it is.

Razor Fist first appeared in the Master of Kung Fu comic series, quickly establishing himself as a thorn in the side of Shang-Chi and his allies. In the comics, three different men have gone by the name Razor Fist, and they all happen to be brothers whose hands get cut off (either in battle or because of unfortunate accidents) and replaced with swords — Douglas Scott, William Scott, and William Young. Simply put, this is not a family tradition that anyone should try to emulate. In any event, all three of these Razor Fists are master martial artists, and have all pestered Shang-Chi at one time or another — or sometimes at the same time. What a family!

In the film, Razor Fist is going to be played by Romanian boxer-turned-actor Florian Munteanu, who previously appeared as Viktor Drago in Creed II and is set to play Krieg in the upcoming Borderlands film.

Meet Shang-Chi's estranged sister

Continuing the trend of character reveals without any explicit details, the teaser trailer also gives us our first look at Shang-Chi's sister Xialing, played by Meng'er Zhang. Interestingly enough, Xialing isn't a Marvel Comics character. She appears to be inspired by Shang-Chi's many sisters and half-sisters from his long history in the pages of Marvel Comics, and we're guessing one of the biggest inspirations for Xialing comes from the comic book character Esme, the daughter of Zheng Zu (aka Fu Manchu), who is also Shang-Chi's father. (As previously mentioned, in the film, Xialing and Shang-Chi will actually be the children of Wenwu.) In the Marvel comics, Esme is the champion of the House of the Deadly Dagger and goes by the alias Sister Dagger. She eventually becomes the commander of the Five Weapons Society, to which Shang-Chi is the rightful heir.

According to leaks for the Marvel Legends toys for Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings, Xialing and Shang-Chi are estranged, but that changes when Shang-Chi asks his sister for help in defeating the Ten Rings. The toy description also notes that Xialing has to decide whether to stay reclusive or join her brother in his quest. From her appearance at the 1:21 mark in the teaser trailer, where she's seen standing like she's prepping for battle, it looks like she chooses the latter.

Shang-Chi's powers: Fists of fury and nary a chi-blast in sight

Even though Shang-Chi is a force to be reckoned with in the main Marvel Comics universe, he's an unknown within the MCU. Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings will mark his movie debut, and many viewers might not know what he's capable of. The teaser trailer demonstrates that Shang-Chi is a master fighter, but at 1:07, he passes his hand through water that seemingly defies gravity and time. You probably wonder how he's doing this, and the answer is, more than likely, he isn't.

In the comics, Shang-Chi is the son of a sorcerer, but he didn't inherit any of his father's magic. He's a straight-up martial artist, trained to surpass the peak of human performance. Skilled in both freehand and armed combat, Shang-Chi is essentially the type of character Bruce Lee liked to portray in his movies. He could probably outfight someone like Spider-Man or Daredevil, but he wouldn't stand a chance against the Hulk or Thor.

This knowledge brings us back to the slow water scene in the Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings teaser trailer. Given Shang-Chi's shock in that particular moment, odds are that event is the result of the Mandarin's ten rings — depicted as armbands in the film. In the comics, a race of alien dragons forge the rings, which possess a variety of powers including a pocket darkness shroud and matter rearrangement. Granted, we don't know if these origins or abilities will be directly transferred from comic pages to the big screen, but the 0:38 and 1:03 marks of the teaser show the armbands glowing, so they clearly aren't just for decoration.

With any luck, Shang-Chi will add the armbands' borderline-supernatural powers to his own preternatural abilities before the movie's end.

The subtle significance of Ghirardelli Square

An exciting chase sequence that involves a bus and a dump truck features prominently at the end of the Shang-Chi teaser trailer, and we see where this chase takes place when San Francisco's famous Ghirardelli Square comes in the picture. As countless movies readily attest, the streets of San Francisco are a prime location for a cool car chase — and since Ghirardelli Square is full of all sorts of nice platforms and fountains, one couldn't complain should the action transition from vehicular mayhem to an elaborate fight scene on the square itself.

Incidentally, the fact that a part of Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings takes place in San Francisco raises a possibility for a potentially massive cameo — or a tiny one, as the case may be. After all, Scott "Ant-Man" Lang (Paul Rudd) and Hope "the Wasp" van Dyne (Evangeline Lilly) are both active on the area, and it's highly unlikely that they'd ignore a giant car chase with supernatural kung fu overtones on their turf. Could Shang-Chi give fans a tiny dose of Quantumania before the size-shifting heroes return in their upcoming third movie? A fan can dream.

Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings is set for a September 3 debut.