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Legendary Focus: Shang Chi

I love kung-fu movies.

You take some lithe asian dude whose honor/family/girlfriend/search for peace/chocolate cake has been befouled by a band of evil henchmen intent on making everybody around them feel pretty bad about themselves and toss in a handful of flying spin kicks to the face and I’m as giddy as a grasshopper in a meadow. Kung fu movies feature that unique amount of batshit insane that is guaranteed to be an hour and a half’s worth of pure entertainment. Even a “bad” one is pretty darn good.

Once upon a time you were forced to watch these things with horrible dub jobs that sounded like somebody was phoning the lines in from a public restroom. You could tell they weren’t even bothering trying to sync up voice to lips, because the dude on screen finished talking five minutes ago but somebody is still running their mouth. But it’s a brand new world, and with so many getting brand new remasters featuring the original language and adequate subtitles, we’re finally getting to see the movies in the manner in which they were intended.

Back in the 70s, Marvel made an effort to branch out of their streak of “white guy gets powers” by embracing a handful of cinematic trends. The Blaxploitation era of cinema gave birth to Luke Cage, and the Kung Fu movie craze—led by the manmythlegend Bruce Lee himself—gave birth to Shang Chi, the master of Kung Fu.

Shang Chi was featured in a pair of long-running titles. The main one, in which he was the main character, was Master of Kung Fu, ran for 125 issues, and the other, an anthology-type series titled Deadly Hands of Kung Fu, was magazine-sized and ran for 33 issues. Both of these titles have recently been collected in several fat omnibus books.

But Shang Chi himself has had no Marvel Legends figure. This is a mind-boggling oversight that makes one want to flying spin kick oneself in the face. With so many issues under his black belt, you would think he’d have already had a super-articulated action figure. But here we are, with no Master of Kung Fu.

I’d imagine the main trouble would be which costume to put him in. He wore a simple gi for the entirety of his original run. The dude never wore shoes. He was by far the most comfortably attired comic character outside of the naked ones. But he’s had a few different, updated looks since then.

Personally, I’d love to get him in his original outfit, one that pays homage to his longest stint in comics. Years ago when Hasbro put out a Ronin figure I though that a Shang Chi would be coming soon, but that’s been…a lot of years ago, and no Shang Chi yet.

I actually do like both of his more recent costumes. The black shirt with the dragon on it with the red pants is a nice overall Kung-Fu look, and his recent track-suitish look (that looks a bit like a differently colored homage to Bruce Lee’s Game of Death outfit) is also a nice look as well. I’d take all three of them as a figure. But would we get three shots at Shang Chi?

I’d like to think so. I know there have been talks about a Netflix show. Is that a certainty? Things are getting cancelled left and right over there, and not having Netflix, I don’t keep up with Netflix news. I didn’t even know there was a Daredevil season three. I still haven’t seen any of the shows. So yeah, maybe there’s a Shang Chi show coming out at some point that could elevate his visibility.

Either way, if I were to point to two huge glaring holes in the Marvel Legends line, Shang Chi is right up there with Quasar in the “never before” category.