Shang-Chi Introduced a Villain Nobody Expected to the MCU

This text comprises main spoilers for Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings.

The most recent movie in Section 4 of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings, has lastly been launched in theaters. And one of many greatest issues that’s gotten followers speaking concerning the newest MCU entry is the brand new villains it introduces to the setting.

Earlier Marvel movies had been typically criticized for his or her bland and two-dimensional villains — Malekith, Yellowjacket, and Ronan the Accuser typically being cited as probably the most egregious examples. Nonetheless, the previous few years have seen that development damaged, with loads of iconic Marvel Comics villains introduced into the MCU to nice acclaim. Beloved comic bad guys like Baron Zemo, Vulture, Mysterio, Ego the Residing Planet, and extra have rapidly change into fan favorites amongst MCU moviegoers, and plenty of followers hoped that the primary villain of Shang-Chi would comply with swimsuit.

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The first antagonist of Shang-Chi is the titular hero’s father Xu Wenwu, higher identified to followers because the Mandarin (although Wenwu finds the title comical within the movie). That title was beforehand featured in Iron Man 3, however the man utilizing it — Trevor Slattery, performed by Ben Kingsley — was nothing greater than an actor employed to function a figurehead by the movie’s actual villain, Aldrich Killian. Nonetheless, Shang-Chi reveals that there is indeed a true Mandarin on the head of the Ten Rings group, and that he’s a way more advanced determine than followers anticipated.

ancient Mandarin in Shang-Chi

Within the comics, the Mandarin has at all times been a reasonably simple villain with a lust for energy and ambitions of world domination. However the MCU’s Wenwu, performed by Tony Leung, is a way more nuanced and tragic determine. He’s pushed not by any egocentric need for private achieve, however solely by a misguided longing to be reunited together with his spouse. This humanizing characterization kinds the muse of the movie’s emotional core — the strained father-son bond between Wenwu and Shang-Chi. However with such a sympathetic central antagonist, the film naturally requires a couple of extra conventional unhealthy guys to spherical out its rogues’ gallery.

Attributable to Shang-Chi’s standing as a extra obscure hero in comparison with the likes of Spider-Man or Thor, he doesn’t have too many iconic foes to attract upon for a movie adaptation. Nonetheless, Wenwu’s two major lieutenants are each reimaginings of little-known villains who debuted within the authentic Shang-Chi comedian, Grasp of Kung Fu. The primary of those is Razor Fist, the person with a bladed mechanical hand — although notably, the MCU model solely has one arm blade as an alternative of two. The second obscure comedian villain featured is Demise Seller, who’s reimagined for the film as a silent, enigmatic murderer as an alternative of a rogue MI6 agent with a taking part in card motif.

Nonetheless, Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings additionally brings one other Marvel villain to the massive display screen — one whose look couldn’t have been predicted by even probably the most devoted of comedian followers. Mentioned villain is, after all, the Dweller-in-Darkness, the sealed demonic being that has been manipulating Wenwu into liberating it from its magical jail. The Dweller’s presence within the movie got here as a shock to followers, since all of the film’s advertising had been building Wenwu up as the main antagonist with out even hinting at the opportunity of a extra highly effective villain pulling his strings.

However that isn’t even probably the most shocking factor concerning the Dweller-in-Darkness’ position within the movie. Within the comics, the Dweller-in-Darkness has by no means as soon as crossed paths with Shang-Chi. Somewhat, the entity was created in 1974 by Marvel author Gerry Conway — finest identified for his Superb Spider-Man run that featured the debut of the Punisher and the demise of Gwen Stacy — for a two-part story in Thor #229-230. The storyline options Thor and Hercules teaming up towards the Dweller’s minions, the Shade Thralls, however the Dweller itself didn’t seem in individual. The character’s existence was forgotten till 1978, when author Roger Stern launched the Dweller itself in Physician Unusual #30.

Death Dealer stands against Shang-Chi

Maybe probably the most notable factor concerning the Dweller-in-Darkness’ comedian incarnation is its heavy ties to the work of the long-lasting horror author H.P. Lovecraft. Whereas the MCU Dweller has a extra bestial, dragon-like look, the comedian Dweller is a purple-skinned humanoid with an octopus’ head, full with a mouth lined by tentacles. As such, the Dweller closely resembles the looks of Lovecraft’s most famous creation, Cthulhu. Even the character’s title is seemingly taken from “The Dweller in Darkness”, a Cthulhu Mythos quick story written by August Derleth in 1944. These connections had been seen by Marvel author Ralph Macchio (no relation to the Karate Child star), who revealed in 1996’s Adventures of the X-Males #4 that the Dweller is supposedly an offspring of Cthulhu itself.

With all this cosmic horror affect, it’s solely pure that the Dweller-in-Darkness has principally served as an enemy of Physician Unusual all through the a long time. As such, the selection to retool it as the final word villain of Shang-Chi’s MCU debut looks as if a quite odd one. It’s potential that the Dweller’s surprising look is by some means setting up Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness. In spite of everything, the Dweller within the comics is a part of the group of demons often called the Worry Lords, which additionally consists of Nightmare — the villain long-rumored to be the primary antagonist of Multiverse of Insanity.

After all, it’s simply as doubtless that the Shang-Chi writers simply wanted a demonic being from the comics to function the ultimate enemy of the movie, and the Dweller-in-Darkness simply occurred to suit the invoice. Both approach, the Dweller’s inclusion in such a significant movie position is additional proof that the MCU isn’t afraid to attract on really obscure characters and reinvent them for the massive display screen. With even the most obscure comic villains getting dropped at life on movie, the Marvel Cinematic Universe really has taken on a lifetime of its personal.

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