Shang-Chi premiers today and among the many, many lingering questions on the minds of fans, the question of when the film is set often comes up. In an interview with Fandango, director Destin Daniel Cretton confirmed that the movie is set “post-blip”, in the present day MCU timeline. Unless I’m failing to read something between the lines, this means Shang-Chi becomes the first Phase Four movie to be set after the events of Avengers: Endgame.
Cretton also talked a lot of other interesting things in the interview about the movie, including his sources of inspiration for helming the MCU’s first martial arts driven film, the significance of working with an Asian-American cast at this scale, and what some of the case brought to the table. Delving more into that last part, Cretton described Shang Chi’s journey as a journey of self-discovery of a man in his 20s learning to deal with all the pent up trauma that he’s suppressed inside him for so long.
I find Shang-Chi and his journey extremely relatable. He is somebody who has a lot of pain in his past. He’s now in his twenties and he is only just beginning to learn how to deal with it. He is a lot like me and a lot of people that we all know, where we have a tendency to cover up our trauma and pain with humor and act like everything’s fine when it’s not. I think Shang-Chi does that, to a point. We find him in this movie facing things for the first time that he’s been trying to avoid for a very long time. I think his journey is a journey of self-discovery. It’s a journey of stepping into who he is and what he’s meant to be in this world. I think that’s something that, at least, is very relatable to me — and I think it’ll be very relatable to a lot of people.
Cretton was also all praise for Tony Leung, for bringing the Mandarin to life in a very human way. He feels audiences should see a fully fleshed out character replete with layers, making choices that, while not agreeable, should still make sense in the mythos established around the character in film.
I think what Tony Leung brought to the character [Wenwu] is something that is so surprising, whether it’s for the MCU or just the superhero genre in general. Tony brings layers — layers to this character that are extremely unexpected. He is not a two-dimensional villain. He is a fully realized human who may not make decisions that you agree with, but I do think you will relate to the reasons that pushed him to make those decisions. I think with regards to the conflict between Shang-Chi and his dad, one of the things that we really wanted to remind people of is that, even though this relationship is very conflicted and has a lot of complications to it, there is always love. There is always love there between father and son and the entire family. In a lot of ways that love is the root of their pain [and] that is pushing them to do things that may not be so nice.
From the trailers, we’ve seen some confrontation shots between Simu Liu and Tony Leung and this interview only amps up the excitement at seeing these veterans together on the big screen. And while Shang-Chi doesn’t hold the distinction of being the first post-Endgame MCU property, that distinction being snapped by Spider-Man: Far From Home as well as this year’s Marvel Disney+ shows, it’s still an exciting prospect to visit that world after 2 years and see just how things play out on cinematic side of things.