Note: The article below contains spoilers for Marvel’s Shang-Chi And The Legend Of The Ten Rings.
There are twists, turns, and tumbles aplenty in Shang-Chi And The Legend Of The Ten Rings, which just hit theaters this weekend. Old friends reappear in surprising new forms, old enemies become surprising new friends, and—unsurprisingly—we get a cuddly new Marvel creature to swoon over. The A.V. Club sat down with Shang-Chi director Destin Daniel Cretton to talk through all the film’s most surprising developments, from the return of The Mandarin to how in the heck The Hulk somehow became Bruce Banner again. Our video chat about all those hot topics is below, as well as a transcript of the whole shebang.
The A.V. Club: There’s someone in this movie that I think audiences are going to fall in love with, and that is Morris, of course, who is just the cutest. How many different iterations of Morris were there and how did you get to the little guy you landed on?
Destin Daniel Cretton: We worked very closely with our VFX supervisor, Chris Townsend, who has been doing Marvel movies and creating some of the coolest creatures in Marvel projects since the very beginning. So it was really fun to learn from him and to go through the process of trying to create a character that is super weird, but also pretty cute. To find that balance, we went through a number of renditions of Morris until we landed where we were.
AVC: What could we have gotten instead? Fewer wings? Was he bigger?
DDC: Yeah, there was a less cuddly version, which was a little bit like a skinned turkey. Not too fun. There were also different vocal sounds for what Morris sounded like. Some sounded a little too bowel-y, and some sounded a little too much like a pig. It was a balance. We were constantly trying things until all of us went, “Awww. I love him now.”
AVC: Some people love Iron Man 3. Some people hate Iron Man 3. Everyone has opinions about everything. I thought Ben Kingsley [as The Mandarin] was great in this. He had a purpose, in that he was basically Morris’ translator. Why did you guys decide to bring him back?
DDC: We thought it was important to hear from Trevor’s lips that it was kind of ridiculous to have him try to imitate this Asian character from China and that Trevor knew that and was moving forward with it. It was actually our hope from the very beginning when we were starting to plan out this movie that Sir Ben would be happy to join this cast and and help us sort of course correct or show all the sides of who the Mandarin character is and help develop when we went to a fully realized human being.
AVC: Speaking of character development, how did Awkwafina’s character’s journey come together? Was the plan always to have her train as a fighter or did that evolve out of conversations when she boarded the project?
DDC: Katy was was always an integral part of Shang-Chi and and his growth, but it was equally important to create a journey of her own.
Her emotional journey is something that I personally really relate to, that feeling of not wanting to try things that are that are too risky out of fear of failure. I’d rather not try and be okay than to try and fail. Even in the course of deciding to do a big movie like this, there’s a lot of fear, like a fear of failure. I have found repeatedly that when I choose to do the things that scare me, regardless of the outcome, I grow much more as a person. Watching Katy go through that personal journey was very moving for me.
AVC: Please settle a debate that my husband and I had after seeing this movie. I said that there could be some romantic undertones there between Katy and Shang-Chi because when she saw him without a shirt, she was like “whoa.” But he said “No, no, they’re just friends.”
DDC: Well, I’m not sure I want to settle that debate. I think that’s a great debate for people to have.
AVC: Okay, so we’ll have to see what happens in Shang-Chi 2.
DDC: I think a lot of us have relationships like theirs where it’s typically platonic, but there’s also a reason that people are attracted to each other even as friends, or why they click as friends and why they care deeply about each other. That care and love that Shang-Chi and Katy have for each other is very real, regardless of whether it is romantic or not. The intimacy is very deep.
AVC: Around the office, we’ve been batting something around amongst people who have seen the movie, and maybe you can answer the question: How did Bruce Banner get de-Hulk-ified in the post-credits scene? Last we saw, the two personalities were permanently fused.
DDC: I think I will leave that alone. All of that will become clear. There are a lot of things happening in the MCU, and what’s super fun now that I get to be on the inside is that I get to see how these little puzzle pieces and questions are planted that I know will be answered fairly soon. Those questions are so fun.
Shang-Chi And The Legend Of The Ten Rings is in theaters now. You can read our review of the movie, which we called “a project that blends Chinese and North American storytelling and star power” right here.