Shang-Chi VFX Boss Had to Make One Major Change to Dragon

In honor of this month's release of Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings,'s Adam Barnhardt recently got the chance to speak with Sean Walker, a VFX Supervisor from Weta Digital who did a lot of work on the movie's dragons. During their chat, we learned the Great Protector Dragon's eyes were based on Fala Chen's, who plays Shang's mom, and that one person hand-molded thousands of scales for the dragon. It was also revealed that the VFX team made one major change to the designs that were supplied by Marvel.

"The designs of the dragons were supplied to us by Marvel themselves. And they've been really happy with them. It's not usual for... Marvel is a bit of an organic process. When you do receive some artwork, there's a bit of leeway there, but they were so happy with the design sets that they sent to us that we stuck really close to the original artwork. So things changed throughout production. The dragon at one point was glowing with power. And you would go through the process of seeing what that looks like in shots and then taking it all out. But no, yeah. Again, from the beginning we received pretty, very, very nice artwork that they were happy with and we just kind of stuck to it," Walker explained. 

During the interview, Walker also shared that the prop department actually built a life-size dragon for Simu Liu (Shang-Chi) to ride.

"We needed to actually complete our dragon model before they even went into shooting. Once we'd done the model we had, we separated it and created fragmented sets that the on-set team literally carved out an exact replica, life-sized replica, of the top of the dragon head, a good chunk of the dragon's back and all the stunt work. And even the main actors Simu and Meng'er were just dangling off it with wires for a good chunk of the film," Walker revealed. 

Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings stars Simu Liu as Shang-Chi, Awkwafina as Katy, Meng'er Zhang as Xialing, Tony Leung as Wenwu, Michelle Yeoh as Jiang Nan, Ben Kingsley as Trevor Slattery, Fala Chen as Ying Li, Florian Munteanu as Razor Fist, Ronny Chieng as Jon Jon, and Benedict Wong as Wong. The movie was directed by Destin Daniel Cretton and was released with a 45-day exclusive theatrical window.


Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings is now playing in theaters.