A video from the set of the 2021 Marvel movie Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings reveals a scene reminiscent of 2018's Black Panther. Maybe we're just drawing strings on a corkboard and finding similarities that aren't actually there, but with so little to go on when it comes to Shang-Chi, we'll take any opportunity to speculate on the future of the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
Warning! Possible spoilers for Shang-Chi ahead.
What happened — A Twitter user going by the handle @charlesbassf tweeted to YouTuber Grace Randolph a video they took from the set of Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings in Sydney, Australia before the pandemic shut down production. "Seem to have Simu and Akwafina [sic] characters arriving at what seemed to be a 'night club/hidden corporation facility' in China."
When the video leaked — On Sunday, April 26, 2020, the video surfaced.
What's in the video — In the video, an off-screen voice (either director Destin Daniel Cretton or one of his assistant directors) calls for "Action," prompting several night clubbers to stumble out of a dingy building covered in construction bamboo. Two figures, apparently actors Simu Liu and Awkwafina, are dressed in normal streetwear to observe the building from the outside. After a few seconds, the same voice calls for a cut.
What's interesting about the video — The scene bears some similarities to a pivotal scene in the 2018 movie Black Panther. Like Shang-Chi, T'Challa (Chadwick Boseman) and his allies Nakia (Lupita N'yongo) and Okoye (Danai Gurira) also perform undercover work when they attend a casino/nightclub in a discreet location in Busan, South Korea. It's a pretty typical spy movie trope, one only need to watch virtually any James Bond movie to see something like it. But that Black Panther and Shang-Chi share continuity suggests there could be a deeper connection between the two characters. Maybe Kevin Fiege is watching too many James Bond movies.
What we don't know — Shang-Chi, in particular, has shrouded in mystery, with so little of the Marvel movie's plot fully revealed. We only know based on what else the internet rumor mill has produced, such as the rumor that Shang-Chi will introduce the character but not act as his actual origin story. Other rumors focus on the ensemble characters who may fill the movie and the fact that the Mandarin is Shang-Chi's father.
Who is Shang-Chi — More than just being another Marvel superhero, Shang-Chi is usually deployed as a secret agent. Reminiscent of Bruce Lee from the 1973 picture Enter the Dragon, Shang-Chi is a martial arts master who is employed by British Intelligence to hunt down his father, the master criminal/terrorist known as the Mandarin. (In the comics, Shang-Chi's father was Fu Manchu, based on a previously existing agreement between Marvel Comics and the estate of pulp novelist Sax Rohmer.) For that reason, it makes sense that Shang-Chi appears in plain clothes.
What's Next? — With Shang-Chi and other Hollywood movies not in production, it will be a while before we get any more "set leaks." So this brief Twitter video is all we'll have unless there are any other old leaks waiting to hit the internet.
The Inverse Analysis — As one of the only significant leaks to ever come out of Shang-Chi, a movie that was just weeks into production before the Covid-19 pandemic forced it to a halt, there's not a lot to glean from a brief few seconds removed of context. However, based on @charlesbassf's tweet, we can assume that Shang-Chi and Awkwafina's characters are on an undercover mission, and that gives us a little more insight.
Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings will be released in theaters on May 7, 2021.