Could Shang-Chi 2 really manage to set up Iron First’s MCU return? Originally, the “universe is expanding” tagline was used in conjunction with Marvel Studios’ declaration that in-universe streaming content would be available on Disney+. It was first used in shows like WandaVision and The Falcon and the Winter Soldier. However, it has since taken on many different meanings.
With one-off streaming specials, the “universe is expanding”.
In terms of canonical animated content, “the universe is expanding.”
For a more mature audience, “the universe is expanding” into these projects.
This year, Disney+ acquired the streaming rights to Marvel Netflix shows. This gave the latter a significant boost. The use of Charlie Cox’s Matt Murdock and Vincent D’Onofrio’s Wilson Fisk in NWH and Hawkeye, respectively, puts their in-universe status in a good position. Cox and D’Onofrio have made the switch from Netflix to Marvel Studios. However, this does not guarantee that their fellow Defenders actors will follow suit.
It doesn’t matter who Marvel Studios chooses to reprise or who they recast; these popular street-level protagonists will soon be seen in the MCU! Some will get revived solo projects, while others will be integrated into existing franchises. Surprisingly for one of Netflix’s heroes who got lost in the shuffle, there’s a theatrical titan calling his name.
There are other martial artists out there, don’t you think? Even if you don’t realize it yet, Mr. Xu has become a part of something much greater.
In Shang Chi, Simu Liu’s titular hero, fans were introduced to the Kung-Fu master. Shang-Chi raked in $432 million during an extremely volatile box office season. Meanwhile, Liu himself won the People’s Choice Award for Action Movie Star of 2021, beating out Daniel Craig and Vin Diesel.
Legend of the Ten Rings has yet to be confirmed as a sequel, but Shang-Chi 2 feels like a foregone conclusion. Plotline details will remain a mystery for some time. However, Shang-Chi 2 is likely to expand the MCU’s cast of characters. No expense will be spared in building the universe if Liu’s wishes come true.
“In what way does Shaun fit in with the rest of the MCU? Who are you going to see? What kind of crazy team-ups? What kinda tie-ins, Easter eggs? I’m just as much in the dark and everyone else, so I don’t know anything, but I’m excited to dive into that process.”
With Shang-solo Chi’s sequel, he could get Iron Fist for his “crazy team up,” just as Captain America and Iron Man did with Falcon and War Machine, respectively.
Besides their combat skills, these two characters have a lot in common when it comes to plot. When Danny Rand discovers K’un-Lun, a mythical city that appears on Earth only once every ten years, he becomes Iron Fist in the comics. From there, Rand learns martial arts, defeats a dragon, and is then imbued with ancient energy, completing his transformation into his green and yellow alter ego.
Both Shang-Chi and Iron Fist appear frequently in the anthology series The Deadly Hands of Kung Fu, which has a strong connection between the two characters. After meeting for the first time in Master of Kung Fu Annual #1, they quickly developed a mutual admiration for each other. When Shang-Chi is around, Iron Fist frequently calls him “the best” behind his back.
We already have the blueprint for how Shang-Chi 2 could incorporate Iron Fist’s MCU return. It hasn’t happened yet, but it will in the near future. The addition of Danny Rand and K’un-Lun to the cast of Shang-Chi 2 is akin to Black Panther: Wakanda Forever’s introduction of Namor and the Atlanteans. A sequel could use Shang-Chi’s Ta Lo as a starting point, even if much of it is based on K’un-mythical Lun’s city.
Comic books depict K’n-Lun as one of the Seven Capital Cities of the Heavens, a grouping of magical realms that share similar characteristics. While introducing K’un-Lun and Iron Fist, the MCU could make Ta Lo one of those cities in the sequel. As a bonus, this would allow Danny Rand to join the MCU without having to go back in time and retell his origin story.
Shang-Chi 2 has the potential to stand on its own by establishing Ta Lo and K’un-Lun as allies in advance of Black Panther 2’s exploration of the conflict between Wakanda and Atlantis. Instead of starting with a “Shakespeare in the park” fight, Shang-Chi and Iron Fist would strike out against those who threatened their sacred kingdoms, just like in the comics. This would make Iron Fist’s MCU return impeccable.
In light of Netflix’s Iron Fist’s dismal reviews and Disney+’s decision to cancel the show, it’s unlikely that the Danny Rand fans see in the MCU will be the same character that Finn Jones portrayed.
However, Jones could return to the role as a new version, as JK Simmons did with J. Jonah Jameson at NWH. In comparison to his co-stars in the upcoming superhero film The Defenders, there is less excitement about the former Game of Thrones star donning the dragon tattoo again.
So, a new start for Iron Fist’s return to the MCU seems the most likely outcome. This would allow Marvel Studios to design not only Iron Fist but the totality of K’un-Lun exactly how they want. This is not an option if they continue the lore of Iron Fist. Iron Fist can finally wear his comic-accurate green and yellow uniform. This was only alluded to briefly in the Netflix series.