Marvel's latest solo superhero franchise is officially underway as Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings has kicked off filming. The project was first announced by Marvel Studios during its massive Phase 4 presentation at San Diego Comic-Con last year. Little has been revealed since then, but production has, somewhat quietly, begun. Now, we have the first set photos to look at, which give us a first glimpse at what's in store.

The movie is filming in Australia currently and the photos originated from a local news outlet. While they don't reveal too much, we see a helicopter on set with blue screen all around. So there's no telling where the setting will be when the movie actually arrives. A mystery figure, dressed like a ninja, is hanging off the side of the helicopter. It's impossible to make out who this is exactly, but odds are it's not Simu Liu as Shang-Chi, as this individual looks, shall we say unfriendly. At the very least, this does give some sense of what we can expect, aesthetically speaking.

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Unlike many Marvel Cinematic Universe entries, there isn't much churning in the rumor mill about this one. It is deeply mysterious, which is part of what makes it so exciting. Aside from Simu Liu playing the lead role, we know Tony Leung is on board as The Mandarin. We first met a version of The Mandarin in Iron Man 3, who turned out to be an actor named Trevor Slattery, played by Ben Kinsley. We're poised to meet the real Mandarin this time around. The Farewell star Awkwafina is also on board in an undisclosed role. Destin Daniel Cretton (Just Mercy, Short Term 12) is in the director's chair.

For those who may not be familiar, Shang-Chi made his debut in the pages of Marvel Comics in 1973 in Special Marvel Edition #15. Later, he was given a solo series. Shang-Chi is a master martial artist who is often referred to as the Master of Kung Fu. The character was created by writer Steve Englehart and legendary artist Jim Starlin. In the comics, he is the son of Fu Manchu, who trains his son in the ways of martial arts, but it's eventually revealed that his father is evil, leading to conflict between them. It's been speculated that, in the MCU, The Mandarin will be revealed to be his father instead. But that's not been confirmed at this time.

Other movie projects coming down the pipeline in Phase 4 include Black Widow, Eternals, Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness and Thor: Love and Thunder. We'll be sure to keep you posted as any further details on the project are made available as filming continues. Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings is set to hit theaters on February 12, 2021. Be sure to check out the set photos from the MCU Direct Twitter. The topper art comes from Petar Džaković Džaković at Artstation.

Ryan Scott at Movieweb
Ryan Scott