Fan theories

Devastating Shang-Chi theory sets up an unexpected sequel showdown

This will change how you think about the movie forever.

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Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings is finally streaming on Disney+, and fans are rediscovering one of Marvel’s best origin stories in years. But in the process, one person may have uncovered a shocking truth about the movie’s protagonist and his best friend Katy.

Warning! Spoilers ahead for Shang-Chi.

Shang-Chi explained

Just in case you haven’t seen the movie since it premiered in September, here’s a quick plot refresher.

When Shang-Chi begins, “Shaun” (Simu Liu) is living in San Francisco and working as a valet driver with his best friend Katy (Awkwafina). Shaun doesn’t have any family of his own, but he’s practically a part of Katy’s, stopping by her home for breakfast. He’s even friends with Katy’s grandma.

None of this seems particularly out of the ordinary. The movie clearly explains why Shaun and Katy are friends (at one point we flashback to a scene where she distracted a bully from attacking him by singing “Hotel California” by The Eagles). Shang-Chi also doesn’t have a family of his own, so it makes sense that he’d latch onto Katy’s.

But as the movie unfurls, we learn the truth about Shang-Chi. Raised by his father to be an unstoppable kung fu master, Shang-Chi was sent on his first mission at a young age to assassinate the leader of the Iron Gang (the gang responsible for murdering his mother). Initially, Shang-Chi tells Katy he chickened out and was forced to go into hiding. Later, he admits to finishing the job, claiming he was embarrassed to tell his friend the terrible truth.

But what if the real truth is even worse?

A new Shang-Chi theory

Simu Liu in Shang-Chi.


On Reddit, u/akavina offers an intruiging theory. What if the person Shang-Chi murdered was Katy’s grandfather? This not only explains why he supports Katy and her family, but also some of his more suspicious behavior throughout the film.

Here’s a detailed breakdown from u/akavina:

I believe Shang-Chi completed his assignment and assassinated him, only to realize he had a family, kids of his own, and grandkids. I believe Katy is the granddaughter of the Iron Gang leader and the guilt he felt from taking her grandfather, and the grief that caused the family (much like the grief his family felt at the loss of their mother, Li) caused him to commit to make amends the rest of his life. He inserted himself into the family he almost broke apart. That's why he seeks to have a good relationship with Katy's grandmother, and always supports Katy no matter what she wants to do (good and bad ideas). Initially out of guilt.

This is a fascinating and slightly flawed theory with some major implications. If it’s true, maybe Katy will learn the truth and turn against Shang-Chi in the sequel. She learns how to fight with a bow and arrow in this movie. Will she pick them up again, this time while aiming at her old friend?

It’s also worth noting that Marvel did the same thing with Bucky in The Falcon and the Winter Soldier, having him atone for murdering a young man by befriending his grandfather. And if there’s one thing Marvel loves, it’s recycling tropes.

Then again, it’s worth noting that this Shang-Chi theory isn’t solving a mystery that really needs to be solved. The movie makes it clear exactly how the two became friends, and we already know why Shang-Chi hid the truth to begin with.

The Reddit comments on this one seem divided as well, with some users shooting the theory down as ridiculous while others like it. You may have to decide for yourself on this one. Luckily, it’s never been easier to watch Shang-Chi and the Ten Rings than it is right now.

Shang-Chi is currently streaming on Disney+.

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