It's never a guarantee that characters in the Marvel Cinematic Universe debut in their own solo movies these days. While most of the original Avengers did, since 2012's Marvel's The Avengers, it has been common for characters like Black Panther and Spider-Man to debut in other people's movies -- and of course, with the increase in spinoffs like WandaVision and The Falcon and the Winter Soldier, we're seeing more "next-gen" superheroes who debuted as supporting characters even before their own solo projects were imagined. For Shang-Chi, though, the filmmakers behind Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings say it was never a question.
That's because of the nature of Shang-Chi's story, which centers so much on his relationship with his family. It's different to introduce SHIELD agents like Black Widow and Hawkeye in a team film, versus somebody whose entire raison d'etre is tied up in his personal history.
"The connectivity is always additive to us. It never leads the creative chart, but it enhances it for us," Marvel chief Kevin Feige told ComicBook's Brandon Davis in an interview at the film's premiere. "The importance of this movie was telling and exploring the journey of the individual named Shang-Chi. That's what we wanted to do. That we get to do it within the backdrop of the MCU, that we get to hint at his place to come in the MCU, is a bonus. That we get to do it with characters you've seen before that show up in Shang-Chi is, again, is creatively additive. Somebody asked me earlier, 'Was it always the intention to bring Shang-Chi into his own movie first? Or, were there thoughts of bringing him, as we did with Black Panther, in another movie, before his movie?' The truth is, it always varies. And Shang-Chi, because of what I said about his family story and his history with his father, we wanted to explore it in his own movie first."
"But, there are other characters," Feige added. "We're shooting Black Panther: Wakanda Forever right now, and the character Riri Williams, you will meet in Black Panther 2, first. She starts shooting, I think, this week, before her Ironheart series that we've already announced."
"When you're in the Marvel offices, you're typically right next-door to all of the other creative projects that are going on, so there is a lot of cross-pollination going on in the halls," Shang-Chi director Destin Daniel Cretton added. "As you're going down a road creatively, sometimes you get a little whisper in your year: 'I'm not sure if that would fit because of this and this though, so you might want to go in another direction,' but that's part of the fun of the process."