Marvel Phase 5: Why It Needs to Be a Shang-Chi/Jimmy Woo Team-Up Movie
Even before his first movie hits theaters, 'Shang-Chi and the Agents of Atlas' is already too easy a sequel to imagine.
All right, look: We know Marvel Studios hasn’t even begun principal work on 2021’s Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings, but with the Marvel Cinematic Universe being so forward-thinking, we already have a sweet, totally theoretical idea what a Shang-Chi sequel (because there will be one) could look like in Marvel’s Phase Five or even Six.
Hear us out Marvel: Please make a Shang-Chi sequel that co-stars one of the MCU’s most underrated characters, Jimmy Woo (Randall Park) from 2018’s Ant-Man and the Wasp.
For those who missed Comic-Con, Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings is a new movie in Marvel’s “Phase Four.” It will be by Destin Daniel Cretton and will star Simi Liu, Awkwafina, and Tony Leung as the (real) Mandarin.
The movie is inspired by Marvel’s Master of Kung Fu comic book series from the ‘70s, a best-selling title that starred Shang-Chi who was (wait for it) a kung fu master. Notably, Shang-Chi was one of the few visible Asian heroes in the Marvel Universe, and his film will in fact be the first Asian superhero movie from Marvel Studios.
But Shang-Chi wasn’t the first Asian hero at Marvel. That honor goes to Jimmy Woo, a cool-as-ice FBI agent who debuted back in 1956 in Yellow Claw #1 from Atlas Comics, the predecessor of Marvel.
In a time when explicit racism towards Asian people was more commonplace in American culture, Jimmy Woo as a heroic and attractive Asian lead was groundbreaking. Decades later, Jimmy Woo would have a bigger role in the Marvel Universe as the leader of the Agents of Atlas, a ragtag group of eccentric heroes not unlike the Guardians of the Galaxy.
How eccentric? Before the most current iteration of the team (more on them later), the Agents of Atlas were a team made up of a Greek goddess, a talking gorilla, a boy raised on Uranus, a humanoid robot straight out of War of the Worlds, and an Atlantean “Sea Queen.” And you thought a talking tree was weird.
In 2018, Fresh Off the Boat star Randall Park played Jimmy in Ant-Man and the Wasp. While the MCU’s Jimmy Woo wasn’t as cool as his comic book counterpart — at least not cool enough to lead a talking gorilla and a Greek goddess into battle — he was still no buffoon.
As the agent assigned to monitor Scott Lang during his house arrest, Woo was the exasperated babysitter who had to make sure Scott didn’t do anything to violate the Sokovia Accords. Unfortunately, Jimmy Woo was kind of bad at his job, but hey, it worked out for everyone: Scott got to be Ant-Man when he survived Thanos’ snap.
With the Marvel Universe changed after Avengers: Endgame, there’s room to reinvent Jimmy Woo as a by-the-book badass. Or maybe, Jimmy is still the same goof from Ant-Man who can be endearing and cool under different circumstances. Either way, Randall Park’s Jimmy Woo is a ready-made archetype for a buddy movie who could play well against whatever personality Marvel has in mind for Shang-Chi, be it ascetic warrior monk or punk millennial Bruce Lee.
It helps the comics have already featured the two together in starring roles, which makes this theoretical sequel easy to imagine. Under the creativity of Greg Pak, Shang-Chi and Jimmy Woo have teamed up to form not one but two superhero teams: The Protectors, an Asian superhero group who came together in Totally Awesome Hulk; and the “New” Agents of Atlas, essentially “Protectors 2.0” with more superheroes from China, South Korea, and the Philippines. The team can be seen in the crossover title War of the Realms and their spin-off miniseries War of the Realms: New Agents of Atlas.
War of the Realms is a difficult story to translate into the MCU. Long story short, the plot involves Malekith (who made a totally forgettable MCU appearance in the 2013 film Thor: The Dark World, played by Christopher Eccleston), who seeks to conquer Earth as it is the last realm he has left to take over.
Like many Marvel crossovers, the series features a robust cast that includes Thor, the Avengers, the X-Men, the Fantastic Four, Spider-Man, Blade, the Punisher, Ghost Rider, Doctor Strange, Deadpool, and Captain Marvel. Barely half of those characters have any part in the MCU.
But whether it’s a scaled-down version of War of the Realms or an entirely different plot, Shang-Chi and Jimmy Woo could easily star in a fun heroic duo movie that toys with all the different elements from the MCU.
Thank the flexible naming convention established with Shang-Chi’s first movie; Shang-Chi and the Agents of Atlas just has such a nice ring to it.
Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings will hit theaters on February 12, 2021.