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Spider-Man Legends
by yo go re

Not even washing for 20 full seconds can stop these hands from being deadly!

Shang-Chi is master of martial arts and a warrior for justice.

Shang-Chi, Master of Kung-Fu, is in line to get his own Marvel movie soon, so you can tell Hasbro is just getting ahead of the curve with this one. He was created for the comics in 1973, and was originally the son of Fu Manchu. Yes, the Fu Manchu. Raised to be the world's greatest assassin, he defied his father to become a hero instead. Marvel was only licensing Fu Manchu from the estate of Sax Rohmer, so when the license was up, they could no longer use the man himself - this led to a long period of Shang-Chi only referring cryptically to his father without ever stating his name, before they eventually decided to just change it to Zheng Zu. The movies, meanwhile, may finally be bringing in the real Mandarin, so it's possible he'll be the big bad kung-fu dadddy.

The earliest drawings of Shang-Chi make it pretty clear Marvel was trying to cash in on the popularity of Bruce Lee, though this toy goes its own way. Honestly, he looks a bit like Bolo Yeung - aka "the big guy from Bloodsport." Maybe it's the headband that does it. Or the angry look they've sculpted him. Or the fact that he's topless.

Shang-Chi's original costume was basically an old-fashioned martial arts uniform - baggy pants, traditional shirt, the whole deal. But he'd often lose the shirt in the middle of a fight, and that's what this toy has given us (because it's cheaper than molding a new body wearing the shirt, or sewing a tiny softgoods version for him to wear). They could have done his modern jumpsuit look pretty easily, but we understand why they would opt for something more... stylized. At least they painted his skin a skin tone, rather than making him golden yellow like the comics used to. Yow! But hey, way to paint those nipples on, Hasbro!

For maximum kung fu poseability, Shang-Chi gets a body with pec hinges, though his shins are new - it's how they made the lower edge of his pantlegs. There's still a swivel joint where the legs come out of the pants, it's just hidden by the overhanging cloth. Everything else is as you would expect, from playing with plenty of Marvel Legends over the years (or at least reading all our reviews). The bare feet are a reused element, and they're not the last ones.

Special Marvel Edition, the book where the character first appeared, had its title changed after only two issues to The Hands of Shang-Chi: Master of Kung Fu. Appropriate, then, that the figure comes with all the same hands ML6 Iron Fist did: two flat, two clawing, two fists, and two in a split-finger strike of some sort. But then he's also got a pair designed to hold his other accessories, the dragon-headed nunchucks. Ten hands in one package? That's something you usually only see on Japanese import toys! The chains on the 'chucks are just plastic, nothing flexible, but they still look like cool weapons.

Shang-Chi includes an important part of the Demogoblin Build-A-Figure: the entire torso and cape.

Though he's more a "general Marvel Universe" character than a "Spider-Man" character, it's not like the two have never interacted: Shang-Chi taught Peter Parker some basic kung fu moves, to help improve his fighting style. Also, it's not like there's a second Marvel Knights series where they could dump him. Shang-Chi seemed like a highly unlikely character to ever get a Marvel Legend, and if not for the upcoming movie, he'd probably still be.

-- 03/18/20

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