Simu Liu cuts a super-heroic figure in several new images from the upcoming Marvel outing Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings. The movie will mark the introduction of the MCU's newest superhero, a highly skilled martial artist, along with a new world of dragons, magic and the nefarious Ten Rings organization.

Directed by Destin Daniel Cretton from a screenplay he wrote with David Callaham and Andrew Lanham, Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings will chronicle the story of a skilled martial artist who was trained at a young age to be an assassin by his father Wenwu AKA The Mandarin. After escaping the clutches Ten Rings organization and opting to live a normal life in San Francisco, Shang-Chi is soon drawn back into the clandestine world of the Ten Rings and is forced to confront the past he thought he had left behind. He'll also be fitting the Marvel villain Razor Fist, as we see in one of the new images released by Empire, with the character played by Florian Munteanu.

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For Cretton, the opportunity to helm Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings was also an opportunity to portray the Asian-American identity and experience through the lens of the superhero movie. "I grew up with Bruce Lee and Jackie Chan and Jet Li," he explained to Empire recently. "But I haven't seen a hero on screen that really walks and talks like me, dresses like me, listens to the music that me and my friends listen to; somebody truly Asian-American. And that was what was really exciting to me, to create something that just shows the Asian-American experience through the eyes of a budding superhero."

Actor Simu Liu meanwhile, who lobbied hard for the role of Shang-Chi long before the project had even been announced, was equally eager to bring an Asian-American superhero to screens. Having been met with a particular conundrum when donning a Spider-Man costume throughout his childhood, Liu is acutely aware of the importance of diversity in the Marvel and superhero world. "As an Asian man, I could never show my face," he said. "It was only once I put the mask on that the illusion of the superhero would be sold. The moment that I took it off, nobody would ever think I could be that. That's something I was keenly aware of."

As well as introducing Shang-Chi to the MCU, the character will also bring with him a previously unseen world of martial arts. Director Destin Daniel Cretton has since revealed the inspiration behind the MCU's approach to martial arts, with the filmmaker taking cues from two very reliable sources; legendary movie martial artist Jackie Chan and Ang Lee's stunning Oscar winner Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon. "Authenticity and respect and staying true to this genre was the main objective from day one," Cretton said. "There's choreography that's reminiscent of Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon and other fight scenes are inspired by Jackie Chan. We also had choreographers from mainland China who created some beautiful wuxia-style fight scenes. It was important for us from the beginning to have the MCU's first Asian-American superhero be a superhero. We want him to be on par with other superheroes in the MCU and not just be the master of kung fu. Shang-Chi is an incredible martial artist, but he's so much more than that."

Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings will premiere in Los Angeles on August 16, 2021, and is scheduled to be released in the United States on September 3, as part of Phase Four of the MCU. This comes to us from Empire.

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Shang-Chi Empire magazine poster