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How Marvel Decided on Shang-Chi’s Ten Rings Colors


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Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings’ VFX Supervisor Christopher Townsend explains Marvel Studios’ process of choosing colors for the Ten Rings. The second film to be released as part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s Phase 4 (and the 25th overall) is the origin story of Shang-Chi (Simu Liu), Marvel’s Master of Kung Fu. Despite various delays due to the coronavirus pandemic, Shang-Chi continues to break box office records and is being praised for its performances, culture, and action sequences, which pay homage to classic martial arts films.

Shang-Chi follows its hero as he confronts his father, Wenwu (Tony Leung), and the eponymous Ten Ring criminal organization named after the alien artifact wielded by its ruthless leader. Upon discovering the mysterious set of armbands that provide its bearer with mystical powers, Wenwu founded the Ten Rings in the Middle Ages. In search of more power, Wenwu sought out the mythical village of Ta Lo in 1996. He made it to the village’s entrance, which was guarded by a woman named Ying Li (Fala Chen). She and Wenwu engaged in a fight, where she used Tai Chi to disarm him, the Rings glowing orange instead of Wenwu’s blue as she wielded them. Ultimately, the two fell in love and had children. However, Ying Li’s death is what leads to Wenwu’s descent into darkness and the eventual showdown with Shang-Chi in Ta Lo.

RELATED:Shang-Chi: Ta Lo World, Mythology & Creatures Explained

The Ten Rings’ big-screen depiction is much different than in the comics. In addition to being more bracelets than rings, the weapon’s colors change based upon who wields it. In an interview with Marvel, VFX Supervisor Christopher Townsend talked about choosing which character would wield what color of energy for the Ten Rings. According to Townsend, "find[ing] the correct colors... was kinda tricky." Read what he had to say below:

"So trying to find the correct colors for Shang-Chi when he uses the rings, and for when Wenwu uses the rings, was kinda tricky. Coming down to color specifically, we ended up with the golds for Shang-Chi, and sort of a purple-ish blue for Wenwu as sort of our two key colors,” said Townsend. “In essence, Wenwu is not necessarily fundamentally evil, but there are sort of aggressive overtones to who he is as a character and so the characterization of those rings was an extension of that. And when Shang-Chi's using the rings, there's almost an aura of goodness about him, so when he's in almost a tug-of-war moment with his father, we see Wenwu, who uses the sort of lightning-based energy, very spiky and aggressive relative to Shang-Chi's almost silk ribbons of glowing energy and flowing and it's a much more gentle serene power."

Alternate colors for Shang-Chi’s Ten Rings were explored, including green, which would’ve probably been too reminiscent of the Time Stone or Loki’s magic. Via pre-vis models, gold/orange was always a top contender and it makes sense. Aside from wealth, the color orange/gold is typically symbolic of love and wisdom, which could allude to attributes passed down by Shang-Chi’s mother. Having learned from his aunt, Shang-Chi uses the same Tai Chi style of martial arts as Ying Li against Wenwu, who uses the more aggressive Wing Chun. Therefore, when Shang-Chi disarms his father, the Rings go from being “very spikey and aggressive” to “silk ribbons of flowing energy”—just like they did when his parents first met and fell in love.

Changes made to its source material have proven advantageous for Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings. The characterization of the Ten Rings sets them up as an important artifact in the MCU, one that will continue to be developed in future projects. The film’s mid-credits scene teased how, when Shang-Chi inherited the Rings, a pulsing beacon summoned something from afar, presumably a threat from another galaxy and/or dimension that may come into play in Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness. This introduces an interesting question - if the Sorcerer Supreme were to equip the Ten Rings, what color would they be?

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