If 'Shang-Chi' Were 10 Times Shorter And 100 Times More Honest
Cinema is back! And it’s bringing us Aquaman with martial arts! With no streaming options available, we sent The Editing Room vaccinated, masked, and socially distanced into the theaters to buy a large popcorn with extra horse dewormer topping and watch Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings. Having done so many times for us in the past, they succeeded in their legendary quest and have returned with a slightly modified script for the film ...
EXT. OBLIGATORY MCU ORIGIN STORY EXPOSITORY PROLOGUE
Soothing Mandarin narration from FALA CHEN accompanies a visual crash course through TONY LEUNG's secret to eternal life — a man can never wear too many gaudy accessories.
These ten RINGS needed to be more eye-popping, so now
they're super powerful BRACELETS, even though that makes no
sense with the name.
With the help of the bracelets, we see TONY demolish civilization after civilization throughout history and undermine government after government, until one day he realizes he's probably gonna be alone forever unless he smartens up and wifes up.
EXT. MAGICAL ANCIENT FOREST — 1996
Having exhausted his spousal options here on Earth, TONY sets his sights on the fairytale realm of TA LO, where he encounters FALA CHEN.
Halt! We normally greet intruders in a specified clearing
right outside our village, but I'm willing to make an
exception in your handsome case. I shan't let you make your
charismatic way to Ta Lo! Explain yourself!
Oh, I'm just your everyday thousand-years-old
gangster/warrior mystical martial arts family man who's run
out of stuff to conquer on Earth.
Really?! So you've conquered Wakanda, the Quantum Realm,
Kamar-Taj, Madripoor, all the Eternals ...
Okay, fine, all the REGULAR stuff on Earth.
They FIGHT in CLASSIC WUXIA STYLE, which naturally means they FALL IN LOVE.
And that, kids, is how I met your father.
Oh Fala, we should leave all this behind so we can raise a
regular family together.
I agree! Before we leave, though, let me quickly fashion two
suits of dragonscale armor perfectly tailored to fit our
future children when they're in their mid-20s and
leave them here with my sister. Y'know, just in case.
That's some remarkable foresight for someone who will never
mention how their hometown is 100% dedicated to guarding an
evil portal that lures people with the voices of dead loved
ones. Seems like something I should know.
INT. CRAPPY SAN FRANCISCO GARAGE APARTMENT — PRESENT DAY
A shirtless SIMU LIU wakes up and prepares for an honest day's work as a CAR RENTAL AGENT OOPS SORRY PARKING VALET.
Please appreciate my toned bod — I didn't spend months
training my butt off just to be covered up all the time.
Might as well do some push-ups while I'm at it!
At work, SIMU and his totally-platonic best friend, AWKWAFINA, try to get fired by recklessly joyriding through the streets of San Francisco at top speed in a guest's sports car.
Irresponsible pre-hero conduct established! I can't wait for
Shang-Chi 3 when we learn how the guy we cut off in traffic
became a vengeance-crazed supervillain.
INT. A REGULAR BAR
SIMU and AWKWAFINA are out for drinks with their elitist friend STEPHANIE HSU from high school, who criticizes and looks down on them.
Why do we hang out with you again?
I'm basically the street-level framing device for you guys
to circle back to at the end of this whole thing.
Sounds good. See ya in two hours!
INT. CITY BUS
The next day, SIMU and AWKWAFINA uneventfully ride the bus to work, demonstrating that even superheroes take public transit, JUST LIKE US!
MARVEL NERDS WHO WATCHED THE "SHANG-CHI" TRAILER
OMG, it's the bus fight!
... So, anyways, that's why I'm a failure to everyone who
knows me. What's new with you, man?
Cool, um, could we maybe put a pause in this conversation
for a second? I just spotted some skilled assassins sent by
Tony to steal my necklace that I gotta beat up super quick.
SIMU, with his yet-unseen KUNG-FU PROWESS, totally demolishes the crew of thugs, also known as the legendary TEN RINGS, his childhood housemates.
(gawking in amazement)
Say what? My totally ripped best friend of ten years can
throw a punch? What else are you hiding, my dude?
It seems like SIMU has won the fight, but from the back of the bus emerges a one-armed FLORIAN MUNTEANU!
My totally badass villain alias is Razor Fist, which is only
marginally less stupid than Taser Face.
(pauses to unsheathe his machete arm)
Also, I'm gonna slice you up like an avocado, Simu.
THAT ONE LIVESTREAMING DUDE
What's up, everyone? Shit just got real on this bus ride!
Thumbs up if you think we're all gonna make it outta here
SIMU melds his JACKIE CHAN MIMICRY SKILLS with AWKWAFINA'S aforementioned DRIVING SKILLS to defeat FLORIAN and bring the bus to a semi-controlled crash on the sidewalk.
(strolling by on his way to drop his daughter off at school)
Hey guys! I miss anything important?
Shit, they took my pendant! And they'll go after my sister
next! Luckily I have a clue where she is, she sent me a
What if that's a fake sent by the bad guys, so you lead them
But how would the bad guys know where to send the postcard
from, if they need to follow me to figure out—
INT. AIRPLANE, ECONOMY SEATING
On the 20-hour plane ride to MACAU, AWKWAFINA endlessly roasts SIMU'S choice of alias, as any good friend would.
Gimme a break! Even Kevin Feige himself butchered my Chinese
name at Comic-Con, so we gotta take a moment here to really
hammer home the exact pronunciation for all the white folks
INT. MACAU'S COOLER, EDGIER VERSION OF THE SAKAAR ARENA
Aided by that vague postcard from before, SIMU and AWKWAFINA track down the supposed location of SIMU'S sister — an UNDERGROUND FIGHT CLUB in MACAU.
Is there gonna be more fighting? I think there's gonna be
(immediately bets against her best friend)
Director DESTIN DANIEL CRETTON reaches into the OBLIGATORY MCU CAMEO GRAB BAG and draws BENEDICT WONG and THE ABOMINATION, who fight.
Wow, that's random even by MCU standards...
It's then revealed that SIMU unknowingly signed himself up for the marquee cage fight. Always read the fine print, people!
You must fight! If you win, I'll help you find your sister.
Fail, and you might NEVER find your sister!! And the
fearsome opponent you must defeat is ... YOUR SISTER! Oh wait,
that makes my deal useless my God, I suck at this.
MENG'ER ZHANG enters the chat-I-mean-fight.
We know each other! She's a sister from birth!
Yes, it's me. I'm still pissed at you for vanishing for ten
years and leaving me for dead with our neglectful father!
(knees SIMU in the crotch)
Maybe I got Snapped, and you should only be angry about five
of those years? Yeah, I guess that doesn't help much.
(punches SIMU in the throat)
...Good one, sis.
Just as MENG'ER is about to show mercy on her pathetic loser of a brother, she flashes back to her childhood plagued by patriarchal ideals and younger sibling syndrome.
(drop-kicks SIMU into the fence)
I think we're done here.
EXT. THE OUTSIDE OF A MASSIVE SKYSCRAPER, NO BIG DEAL
After SIMU fails to placate his rightfully still-pissed sister, the whole situation falls apart even further when TONY'S THUGS arrive to ruin everyone's night out at the (fight) club.
MENG'ER ZHANG AND RONNY CHIENG
Peace out, suckers!
(disappear to safety via a secret elevator)
SIMU and AWKWAFINA are left stranded! Naturally, SIMU decides to try to escape down the outside of the building because THAT makes sense.
Aw, hell no! That scaffolding looks even less reliable than
the elevator we rode on the way up here.
It's either this or facing the assassins inside, and I know
you can't block a punch if your life depends on it.
Wow, way to judge a book by its cover, man. Also, you're
absolutely right. Both options suck.
It's gonna be fine!
AWKWAFINA reluctantly follows him out onto the ledge, only to pretty much immediately be put in mortal danger when TONY'S goons arrive.
Help! We're really testing the strength limits of this piece
of bamboo, even by sci-fi standards. I'm about to
Don't worry, I got you!
(very much does not 'got her')
AWKWAFINA very nearly recreates the 'GWYNETH PALTROW falling from a crane' moment in IRON MAN 3 when she's miraculously saved by MENG'ER!
Nope, we're not fridging anyone today. Not on my watch.
SILENT NINJA ASSASSIN ANDY LE
(steals MENG'ER's necklace)
SIMU witnesses this low-level jewelry heist and takes off after his former sparring buddy!
Get back here! That shade of green would look atrocious on
SIMU and ANDY duke it out back inside the building on a FLAT SURFACE because that scaffolding was getting too risky, even for these KUNG-FU PROS.
I'm totally about to kill you, Andy, even though up until
now, I've demonstrated what a nice guy and a reluctant
fighter I am.
SILENT NINJA ASSASSIN ANDY LE
(thinking, but saying nothing out loud)
Noooo, I can't die, at least not until we reveal my true
identity that will justify my years of having concealed my
Uh yeah, about that...
Before SIMU can become an unredeemable murderer, TONY arrives and gives his estranged son a massive bear hug.
I do not understand this relationship at all.
Shut up everybody, it's time for my big trailer line about
giving Simu ten years to live his life.
EXT. TEN RINGS MOUNTAINSIDE FORTRESS
Everyone important to the story is somehow on the same helicopter, and have these people never heard of the contingency plan of flying the dignitaries on separate planes??
Please celebrate the homecoming of my only child, Simu!
Are you shitting me right now?
TONY treats the crew to a traditional Chinese dinner of exposition, with retconning for dessert.
Nice try, Dad, but I won't join your super-secret boy band.
You're looking at the expert of fraught father-son
relationships and I'm planning on really dragging this one
PAUL SUN-HYUNG LEE
(from the set of "KIM'S CONVENIENCE")
Tell me about it!
Fine, allow me to guilt trip you children into doing my
bidding again by playing the "your dead mom's being held
prisoner back in her old village" card. Her disembodied
voice comes to me at random times, and none of the
supernatural shit I've seen in my thousand years of life can
TONY puts the two pendants in a dragon sculpture, and it creates a MAGICAL WATER MAZE MAP showing the route to the magic village for TEN WHOLE SECONDS!
Thanks to my instantaneous photographic memory, I now know
exactly how to find the village and exactly when the path
will appear. Guards! Could a handful of you please escort my
near-unstoppable-juggernaut children to the dungeon, please?
INT. BASEMENT DUNGEON
Stuck in time-out in the basement, the defiant trio encounters none other than BEN KINGSLEY!
Allo, it's me, luvs! This is totally the biggest reveal ever,
even though people definitely saw me at the world premiere
two weeks ago.
I've been sent to sincerely apologize for the MCU having TWO
Iron Man movies where the Mandarin turned out to be a cover
story for a white dude, AND for the Mandarin character ever
even existing in the first place.
SIMU, MENG'ER, and AWKWAFINA stare at him blankly.
Look, this story's at risk of grinding to a halt unless you
guys find a way to beat your dad to your dead mom's magical
village. Fortunately, that's where
merchandising-I-mean-Morris comes in handy!
BEN unveils a CUDDLY CGI WINGED BLOB.
CUDDLY CGI WINGED BLOB
(Supplies limited! Order now!)
Oh, so we're really doing this whole ancient Chinese lore
thing, huh? Bye-bye, grounded superhero origin story.
Morris here says that even though the magic forest only
allows access to Ta Lo at highly specific times. In fact, you
can get there whenever you want, and he'll guide us there so
he can reunite with other CCWBs.
Wow, good thing my dad isn't into pets, or he'd have reached
the portal and doomed the Earth years ago.
Right, we should escape! Luckily Tony's fortress is built on
a foundation of cottage cheese so
(rips walls apart)
They grab FLORIAN'S fancy tricked-out BMW and ESCAPE!
EXT. JURASSIC PARK
After conquering the moving forest maze, SIMU and AWKWAFINA and MENG'ER and BEN drive through a mythical field filled with fire birds and multi-tailed foxes and dragon horses, oh my!
Sick, are we gonna use all these creatures to our advantage
in the impending final battle to save the universe?
Nah, a giant guardian lion thing will gruesomely devour one
soul-sucker later on, but THAT'S IT. We're really trying to
avoid another Black Panther war rhino situation.
The motley crew encounters a wall of villagers, including MICHELLE YEOH.
Hello! I'm, ah, your aunt who's never been mentioned before,
but if you think you're making a giant wuxia epic without
Michelle Yeoh, then screw you.
Wow, Michelle Yeoh being a warm and welcoming matriarch
in a predominantly Asian Hollywood summer blockbuster? Why
does that feel so unnatural?
EXT. TRANQUIL TRAINING MONTAGE
Despite knowing exactly when TONY and his GOONS are scheduled to arrive, our heroes nobly choose NOT to use this knowledge to set traps or anything but prepare in a more generic, training-montagey way.
Is it too on-the-nose if we blast some "Eye of the Tiger"
right about now?
Um, yes, this isn't the Captain Marvel soundtrack.
So I've been getting by on my driving skills, but I'm
thinking that's gonna be one billion percent useless in the
final battle, anyone help a girl out?
Eh, we don't have an archer in the main group yet; why not
(from the set of "HAWKEYE")
Hey now, don't muscle in on my turf!
MICHELLE makes sure everyone has a full kit of WORLD-BUILDING BACKSTORY.
Simu, in this dimension, we dedicate ourselves to guarding
your dimension from a third, super evil dimension, but not
the Dark Dimension. Behind that evil portal are soul-sucking
demon-like creatures led by-
Ooh ooh is it Mephisto?! Is this how we get Mephisto?!??
HOLY SHIT, PEOPLE. ENOUGH ABOUT MEPHISTO ALREADY. HE WASN'T IN
WANDAVISION OR LOKI, AND HE'S NOT HERE EITHER, GIVE IT A
EXT. SIMU'S MEMORIES
The final battle is just around the corner, so naturally, SIMU takes a moment to reflect on his murderous upbringing, and that time he watched his Mom get beaten to a pulp ... Just to, you know, get in the right headspace and all that.
FLASHBACK TONY LEUNG
We must avenge your mother, Young Simu! And to help round
out our stylistic tour of Asian action cinema, I feel we
should do so in a vaguely John Woo fashion! Now let's
destroy these hard-boiled criminals!
TONY crushes the GOONS and then returns to running the TEN RINGS MARTIAL ARTS CRIMINAL SYNDICATE who were presumably just sitting around on their ass the past seven years waiting for TONY to return to his life of crime.
EXT. BIG FINAL THIRD-ACT CGI BATTLE — YAY?
TONY & CO. arrive in TA LO and considerately park their caravan of heavy-duty vehicles next to the village, rather than just plowing through everybody.
Let's get this thing started, children.
I know the toy leaks already spoiled it, but please take a
moment to admire my glittery armor ... and my Air Jordans,
which totally complete the look.
Everyone strikes a pose and is prepared to FIGHT! It's all for show, though, since it takes approximately two seconds for TONY to blow past the entire battalion and start turbo-punching the magical gate.
Save us Simu, you're our only hope!
SIMU, who'd spent most of the battle so far napping underwater with his dragon Patronus, is suddenly AWAKENED!
Ta-da! Here's a taste of the live-action How to Train Your
Dragon adaptation that fans have probably been clamoring
SIMU and his DRAGON start devouring all the baby SOUL-SUCKERS, but it's okay because they're EVIL babies!
Aw crap, I should probably be dealing with Tony right now. I
can leave these baby demons for everyone else to take care
Without waiting for an answer, SIMU jumps off his dragon to CONFRONT HIS FATHER.
I see your ten blue rings, and I raise you ... five yellow
... You just stole five of mine, dipshit.
(harnessing the shit out of his chi)
Ah, but did you know that I'm the perfect blend of you and
... Yes, that's how genetics work.
SIMU and TONY pose with their respective GLOWING RINGS long enough to provide a dope visual to use in all the promo art.
You can take your stupid rings back, Dad. I never wanted
Well, why didn't you just say so, son? My only goal in life
was to brutally train you to keep you safe because I love
you so much.
Well, that and conquer everything that's ever existed. A
thousand years is a long time, okay?
THE MEGA SOUL-SUCKER swoops in to disrupt the potential family reconciliation moment and SNATCHES TONY!
(seconds away from getting his soul sucked out)
Yes, my villain death will be both completely bloodless and
the most emotionally impactful part of the story. I'm just
I feel like I should be sad right now.
No time, there are dragons to fight!
You mean the battle's not over??
It's over when I SAY it's over, got it?
Get ready for a BATTLE ROYALE DRAGON-STYLE SMACKDOWN! SIMU and MENG'ER ride around on their water-bending dragon for a while until SIMU is forced to choose between saving his SISTER and saving the UNIVERSE.
So I'm just an imitation of Evangeline with my harsh bob and
now also Scarlett with the "Let me go so that I can plunge
to my noble death" thing?
Thankfully, Marvel has learned from their past mistakes, and MENG'ER survives!
Let's work together, sis! It'll be just like old times!
Oh, so you're gonna overshadow me again?
Oh, um, well, my name IS in the title ...
Ugh, whatever, go have your big hero moment. See if I care.
SIMU heroically defeats the MEGA SOUL-SUCKER by shooting the RINGS down its throat and giving it a SNEAK HEART ATTACK that makes it EXPLODE!! Our heroes WIN!!
I guess we should probably mourn the fallen or something
now, hey? I dunno how these things work; this was my first
INT. A NORMAL BAR
SIMU and AWKWAFINA are back to living their normal mundane lives, and once again having drinks with their snarky friend STEPHANIE HSU.
... And that's how I mastered archery faster than Chris Evans
figured out how to fight Josh with that magic hammer.
Suddenly, a glowing orange PORTAL appears in the BAR, but it's only BENEDICT WONG who walks through, NOT an ENTIRE FREAKIN' ARMY BECAUSE WE CAN'T ALL BE "ENDGAME", OKAY? CALM THE HELL DOWN.
Simu Liu! You've got to come with me into the full MCU
No, no, no, I just got here, Awkwafina is here, and we're
gonna take my new rings for a spin.
Well, bring her along; she's got high enough billing.
You're going to mind zap me to sleep the instant I walk
through that portal, aren't you?
EXT. MID-CREDITS SCENE
Director DESTIN DANIEL CRETTON once again reaches into the OBLIGATORY MCU CAMEO GRAB BAG, and this time draws holographic BRIE LARSON and MARK RUFFALO, who SPECULATE.
Simu, it looks like these Ten Rings are incredibly old,
vastly powerful artifacts. Thank you SO MUCH for finding
them all together and not one-by-one over 12 freakin'
And there's some kind of beacon leading to an unspecified
future project; what are the odds?! Looks like I'm human
again, by the way; we sure love skipping right over Hulk
character development between movies.
As usual, I'm busy dealing with high-powered intergalactic
shit, so that I can't just solve your problem instantly. Good
I guess I might've maybe evolved as a person after all that
universe-saving shit last week, but don't worry, I'll still
always be the loveable and relatable slacker!
(sings karaoke off-key with BENEDICT and AWKWAFINA until the
EXT. POST-CREDITS SCENE
Remember when the after-credits footage used to just be a cute little jokey bit, like when an alien cat vomited up the Phase 1 MacGuffin on SAMUEL L. MOTHERF**KING JACKSON's desk? Neither do we! Bring on the scenes with ramifications!
Mwah ha ha, I run the Ten Rings now. Even though I don't
actually have the Ten Rings. But perhaps someday, the Ten
Rings will cross paths with ... the Ten Rings.
We might need a new name.
Top Image: Marvel Studios