Marvel Studios: Assembled (2021) s01e06 Episode Script

The Making of Shang-Chi and The Legend of The Ten Rings

You know,
when I was still struggling as an actor,
I had this job
where I literally dressed up
as Spider-Man
for kids' birthday parties.
And the reason why I'm dressed up
as Spider-Man is 'cause
I was Asian and I couldn't show my face.
There weren't any
Asian superheroes, you know?
So, I could only play
one of those heroes with a full mask.
And it's pretty incredible now that, uh,
you know, not only is Shang-Chi making it
to the big screen, but he has no mask.
His face is, you know,
is just his face and he's out there.
People will inevitably
watch this movie and be like,
"Did he do his own stunts?
Does know martial arts?"
And to those people,
I only have one thing to say.
When they announced Shang-Chi,
I was like really, really excited
and at the same time,
did a bit of research on the character.
I was like,
"Okay, he's a martial arts master
"and he's an Asian guy."
So, I was like,
"Okay, where are they gonna take this?"
The comic was originally
created in the 1970s,
where there was a bit of,
shall we say, a Kung fu craze,
you know, sweeping across America.
It was not the most,
uh, progressive source material
that we've ever had.
And, you know, from day one,
it was something that we knew
right off the bat had to change.
When we looked at the comics,
I think we learned a lot.
Some of that was what not to do.
Shang-Chi in 1973,
was definitely brought to life
by people who are big fans
of Kung fu cinema,
but didn't necessarily understand it
from the inside out.
It was very important that this story
was told primarily by Asian-Americans.
With Dave Callaham as the writer
and with Destin as the director,
we felt like we were in good hands
in making sure
that we honored that experience.
Yeah, the more
you can make it feel heart felt
Then when she says, "Are you"
Destin had already proven himself
to be a very adept filmmaker,
primarily working with amazing actors.
So, we knew that.
What you don't always know is,
are they interested
in stepping into the Marvel process?
Are they interested in taking on something
that is on a much bigger scale
than they've done before?
I showed up and saw these crane
I've never seen
a crane this big in my life,
and there's two of them.
Yeah, the scale's insane.
Growing up,
I didn't really have anyone besides
Bruce Lee, Rufio,
Ricky "The Dragon" Steamboat
to dress up on Halloween.
Those are my three options.
To be able to add
not only one character,
but to add
a whole cornucopia of Asian faces,
and just seeing
these young Asian characters
acting like I act and my friends act,
is just something
I've never really seen before.
And it's really exciting
to be a part of it.
I have a lot of experience
writing action movies
and writing comedy-action movies.
At this point, I've been doing it
for 18 years professionally, now.
The thing I was doing was writing
for other people, essentially.
I was imagining, "What would it be like
to be a hot White guy named Chris?"
And then I write that character
going through the world like that.
This was the first opportunity
that I've ever been given
to write a little bit more
of my own story.
The thing that we're really fortunate
with about Shang-Chi
is just that he's pretty obscure.
Not a lot of people have heard of him.
As far as his origin story,
there's nothing quite as iconic as,
for example, Bruce Wayne with Batman
or Spider-Man getting bitten
by the radioactive spider.
What really moved me from the comics
was this really interesting relationship
of a dad who trained his son
to be a killer,
and now, his son is back and grown up.
And he has to face him.
That was really exciting to me.
And it was the basis of the pitch
that I gave them.
And it was actually a very personal pitch.
Destin really had this
remarkable story of this son
who felt one way about his father,
and learned to think
another way about his father.
And it was really emotional,
in a way that you go,
"Well, if we can carry that
through the development of a script
"and into this final movie,
this will be everything we've dreamed of."
- What Which one is it?
- It's the Funyuns.
- It's the Funyuns and the cigarette.
- This one?
- It's called Fun
- They're called "Funyuns."
They're like onions, but more fun.
It's our first day of filming.
It's a family scene,
and I think everyone was really
But, um, once we all got on set
and we kind of felt the vibe,
we kind of really chilled out,
and now, we're at it.
So, I hope the rest of the shoot
goes like this, 'cause this was great.
Draw them up.
I'm Chinese-American.
I was raised here.
I don't feel too much
of a connection to China,
which is a thing that gives me
a sense of shame, to a degree.
I was interested in exploring
what that story could be like
if this is a person
who's spent time in both places.
He has, sort of, the ethics
and the culture of China behind him.
He was raised to care about family.
He was raised to listen to his parents.
But because he spent time
in America and because his time in America
was spent hiding from his past,
he's built up a lot of
defense mechanisms around himself.
Okay. Okay.
He's got a slightly goofy
playfulness over the top of this,
like, hidden part of his character
which we don't really see until later on.
So, we just tried
to give him a very American sensibility
because he actually is, in a way,
kind of hiding from his past.
So, he's, in effect,
wearing a costume when we first meet him.
I don't know
what you're talking about.
Our character
doesn't find his superpower by,
you know, falling into a pit of slime.
He finds it through going inward
and dealing with the things that he's been
avoiding from his past and running from.
That's definitely something
that is rooted
in a lot of beautiful Chinese stories.
You know, it's been a really
in-depth search to try to find
somebody who will capture this character
with all the dimensions that he deserves
and it's going pretty well.
We found him.
- Do you wanna tell us who he is?
- You guys wanna meet him?
Our search was spearheaded,
as always, by the great Sarah Finn,
who's done such a great job
finding many actors
in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
Destin and Jonathan and Sarah
saw literally hundreds of people,
that we went through numerous rounds,
and found some wonderful people.
But nobody that
There is that thing at Marvel,
which is, when you know, you know.
And everybody sort of agrees.
And we hadn't found that yet.
My real name is Shang-Chi.
I am just painfully ordinary.
I haven't been
in a single movie before this.
Hi, my name is Simu Liu
and I'm six feet tall.
I never thought
that I would be in the running
because I could think of 20 other guys
who are taller than me,
who are buffer than me,
who are better martial artists than me.
The only thing, really,
that I had to my name was like,
I could maybe do some stunts
and I could tell a joke,
'cause I was on this show in Canada
called Kim's Convenience.
Simu rose to the top of the pack.
His take on the character was really funny
and also had a lot of emotion.
It was clear that there was
this deep well of emotion there.
We knew he was a fan,
how badly he wanted it
and how hard he worked for it.
Picking up the phone
and calling Simu with Destin and Kevin
and telling him he got the part,
it's one of the most fun phone calls
that we get to make.
I watched Endgame
in the movie theater in April of 2019,
still as a fan,
having no idea that three months later,
I would be at Comic Con in front of,
you know, 8,000 fans live being introduced
as one of the next Phase-Four heroes.
It is a huge honor for me to introduce you
to the incredible Simu Liu.
My first reaction
to reading the script, I cried.
I cried because
there is such an intimate relationship
between Shaun
and the characters in his family.
I cried because we got to see
an Asian superhero
saving the world and saving the day.
And it was just such a profound moment
for me as a fan, as an actor,
as an Asian person.
Did you guys
get that, by the way?
Not a damn thing. Okay, that's cool.
The thing that really connects me
to this Shaun character,
is that we're both
people that are in between.
We're both people that struggle
with two different halves of ourselves.
My parents are from China.
I was born in China.
But I feel very much like an outsider
when I visit the country.
And I speak to my relatives
and they make fun of me for my Mandarin.
But in Canada
and in the States as well,
you aren't fully at home there, either.
We felt confident
that even though
it was gonna have
a big action component,
that we wanted to, as we always do,
hire the best actor and get them
as far along as we could with the action,
that the audience would respond
mostly to the performance
and the emotion, and that the action
and martial arts would follow.
Going into a job like this,
I think it's pretty natural that,
you know,
you have all sorts of insecurities.
Destin was really great in, kind of,
grounding me
in what this movie was really about.
Who is Shaun?
What drives him to do
the things that he does?
And in what ways will he find himself
over the course of this movie?
Focusing on that made all the rest of it,
all the Marvel part of it,
not seem so daunting.
This character is the master of Kung Fu.
He has mastered his body.
Probably could scale a building just by
climbing with his bare hands.
I am definitely not that cool, all right?
I have trouble
getting out of bed in the morning
- sometimes, when I'm really sore.
Oh, no.
- More.
- Oh! Panic! At The Disco!
- Oh, God.
- Nine, ten. Okay, okay.
Are you ready?
The moment that I was cast,
we started to have conversations about
what the training regimen would look like.
I always fancied myself
as kind of like a physical guy.
Toronto's a bit of a smaller market.
So, I was doing stunts
professionally at one point.
I showed up for the first day of training
and I just got my butt kicked.
They have him on a crazy
training schedule. The poor guy.
Let's go, let's go, let's go. Let's go!
Basically, there's two main components.
Strength and conditioning,
and martial arts.
First, we're making sure
the fundamentals are there.
Like flexibility, strength.
He came in
with a lot of strength and power.
So, we really needed to work
on his flexibility.
- Oh, God. Oh, God!
- One
Definitely one of the signs
of a true martial artist
is when they can just drop into splits,
and they have that kind of range of motion
that they trained over months
and months and months.
He has to learn
two different styles of martial arts,
because in our movie, he learns
a very aggressive style from his dad,
and he learns a much more
spiritual flow from his mom.
One main style that we're working
on right now is Tai chi,
which is very, very flowy.
Very, I think,
in harmony with your surroundings.
Another one is Wing Chun,
which is a bit more combative
and then looking
at certain regional styles
like Southern boxing and other things,
to kind of fill in this whole mosaic
of how this character moves.
We took the time to explore a lot.
We explored what his strengths were.
And we also covered
all his weaknesses as well.
Oh, no! What weaknesses?
I have no weaknesses.
- Come at me.
- I have no weaknesses.
- Doing the splits.
- That's not what I told you say!
Get in the splits.
I wanted to do
as much of the stunts as I could.
I mean, I felt like
it's the actor's responsibility
to kind of become a sponge
and to soak in as much as they can.
Definitely wasn't able to do this
when I got here for prep,
but, uh, now, I'm very happy to say
that I could go head to knee.
One, two, let's go! Whoo!
Huh? Huh?
A lot of that physical intensity
of the training
that he went through
really mirrored the character.
Talking with Simu,
I think he was using a lot
of that physical training as a mental tool
to tap into the character.
Your dad trained you to be
an assassin when you were seven.
You realize how messed up that is, right?
We really wanted this to be
the opportunity to show off The Mandarin.
The Mandarin is really
a marquee character from the comics,
who we've never been able
to execute on screen.
Names are sacred.
They connect us not only to ourselves,
but to everyone who came before.
Shang-Chi's father is Wenwu,
also known as The Mandarin,
who was portrayed to some degree
in Iron Man Three.
You know who I am.
You don't know where I am.
And you'll never see me coming.
What we got was a red herring.
Where's The Mandarin? Where is he?
When we really saw behind the curtain,
we saw that he was just this,
like, kind of dopey actor.
My name is Trevor. Trevor Slattery.
Don't hurt the face! I am an actor.
We wanted Shaun to have a father
of great power in China,
and as it happened,
the character of The Mandarin
had already been teased,
but not utilized in any true way.
Going all the way back to Iron Man one,
we've seen this organization called
The Ten Rings pop up in Marvel movies.
We've seen a little bit
in Iron Man one, in Ant-Man.
Then there was this short film
that was released after Iron Man 3
called All Hail the King
that established that Trevor
had been basically sprung from jail
by the true Mandarin,
who we don't see in the film.
There's somebody who wants to meet you.
- Do I know him?
- No.
But you took his name,
and now he wants it back.
Nope, sorry,
I still don't get it.
It's such a joy to have
Sir Ben come back as Trev.
The way that he plays him
is just so weird and so endearing.
Every scene just feels so alive
and unlike anything I've seen before.
Live on television.
Sounds familiar, right?
You shot a guy on live television?
Yeah. No. Yeah, well, I faked it.
But dramatically speaking,
yes, I did the deed.
This is my third visit to Trevor.
The wonderful thing about Trevor
is that he is an amazing adapter.
He will adapt to anything.
He's a wonderful survivor.
Calm down, mate.
I'm not dead. It's just a performance.
Get down here and play along.
As an actor, a craftsman,
that whole package
and that journey over a few years now,
is to me, immensely attractive.
The Ten Rings were
an element from the comics,
which we felt were in need of an update.
In the comics, there are ten rings
that are worn on the fingers,
and they all have different powers.
The whole idea
was to try to figure out
a new language, a new power set.
They knew that they didn't wanna do
the rings on the finger
like you see in the comic book.
And probably the main reason
is because of Thanos
and the Infinity Saga
that we just had being too similar.
Destin had the idea
that they would actually be
more of the bracelets rings,
like, martial arts training rings.
What those rings
have become in Shang-Chi,
is kind of Hung Gar inflected
iron Kung fu rings
that pop up a lot in Kung fu cinema
that really feel
a little bit truer to the genre.
The Mandarin first found
the actual physical Ten Rings
that the organization became named for.
And built that organization
from the ground up
with the power of those rings.
Suddenly, the Ten Rings thing
goes from an Easter egg
in the very first MCU movie
to the core of what I think
is one of the greatest father-son
relationships in any of our films.
We will rebuild The Ten Rings
to what it once was.
Thinking about this character,
as the father to Shang-Chi,
as a man who is corrupted by these rings
and corrupted by power,
and who at every turn
kind of wanted to do the right thing.
But his greed or his obsessions
would turn him away from that.
That started to unlock
the notion of doing justice to a character
and more justice than have ever been done
in the comics, frankly.
The Mandarin is a brand
that we wanted to peel away
and understand
the person behind that title.
If there was anybody in the world
who will instantly break the cliché
of the mustache-twirling villain,
it would be Tony Leung.
And, cutting. All right.
- That was really nice.
- Right?
That was great.
So, I still cannot believe this.
But I just shot a scene with Tony Leung,
and, um. if you are into
Asian cinema at all,
you'll know that
Tony Leung is an absolute legend.
Every time I talk to my parents,
they always lead with the same question.
It's not "How are you doing?"
It's not "Are you sleeping well?"
It's "Did you work with Tony Leung today?"
When I found out
that he was cast in this,
I almost fell out of my chair
'cause for me, that's like
Legitimately one of my favorite actors.
I think this time,
the story is trying to approach
Mandarin in the more
human perspective.
The way that Tony Leung
sees that character,
it's all rooted in Wenwu's pain
and in Wenwu's desperation to be loved
and to show love,
but he does not know how to show it.
I think what Destin
was after was
looking at those Ten Rings
and the power they brought
and the immortality that they brought.
It's kind of a metaphor
for addiction, in a way.
I had the idea
that when it powers on,
the rings would
kind of raise up on the arm.
And then you would see
that it's embedded in there
and it's also just kind of infusing
whatever energy, power
that the rings emit into your whole body.
Wenwu gets drawn to this power.
It's almost like drug.
So, we're try to make
the rings give this sense
that as they're going through his arms,
you get this sense of the veins glowing
as he becomes more powerful with them.
Those rings are also his chains.
They are the thing that keeps The Mandarin
from being the person
that he is meant to be,
that his wife believed he could be.
Ultimately, this is a story
about how this family has kind of
lost each other at the moment
that the glue of that family
who was their mother, was killed.
This is not the same father
that was around when he was a boy.
This is a much meaner
and more hardened father
that has been scarred by tragedy.
The gambling den
is a story told in flashback.
What Shang-Chi sees,
is his father is a monster,
and the goodness in his life is gone,
and he's left with this monster.
That's what the scene is about.
The child
and the child's understanding of it.
So, instead of going down
to the end of the room
where Wenwu is beating everybody up,
we stayed with the boy.
We saw the boy's face seeing that action,
which we can see in the mirror behind him,
or we can go drift behind him
and see what he sees.
But we always returned to him.
And we do it in one, so,
we can feel the same horror that he feels.
Wenwu is the tragic character.
Although he is so powerful with the rings,
he is lonely all his life
until he met his wife,
and I think that's the most happiest time
in his one thousand years of life.
I think when people watch
the movie in theaters,
they're just gonna look
at this sequence and think,
"Oh, of course they found
a beautiful waterfall
"in the middle of a forest
that's perfectly lit."
But in actuality, everything from the dirt
that's on the ground right now,
to the leaves,
to every single branch of bamboo
has been carefully designed.
It's one of the most gorgeous sets
that I think we've built for this movie.
It's really bittersweet for me
because I haven't been
born yet at this point.
One of the things
we want to convey,
with all the sets relating to Li,
is that they utilized the five elements,
which is a core idea in Chinese culture.
Fire, metal, water, earth and wood.
In Chinese cosmology,
these are the five foundational elements.
- This looks so good.
- You're not tired of it yet?
So beautiful.
You know, the idea is that all these
things are in harmony in Li's life,
and they're in harmony
in the sets in which Li appears
and that she uses her Tai chi,
which Brad has so nicely choreographed,
which is also about
balance and being at one with nature.
When we first
brought on Brad Allan,
it was so important to all of us,
and Brad included that we treat
all of the martial arts in this movie
with the respect that it deserves
and that Brad would bring on
some really amazing choreographers
from China and Hong Kong
to root all of our choreography
and martial arts styles, that would pay
respect to everything that came before.
It's so rare that you can describe
a fight scene as beautiful and moving.
Peng and Chris did an amazing job
creating a fight sequence
that really tells the story
of a real human connection.
Destin, he actually
have very strong vision.
We would give him lot of different ideas,
a lot of different designs.
Right there,
the rings should be flying already.
So, I think we should cancel this shot
and maybe tweak the choreo
of the next shot.
He knows
what he needs for his story,
and that was beneficial for us to see
what we can lose
and also keep to make sure
that we're still telling the story
that he wants to tell.
Li's character,
a lot of her movements
and her philosophy is rooted in Tai chi,
which is the opposite of aggression.
It's about taking
somebody's aggressive power and attacks
and reverting that energy back on them.
The style for Tai chi
is not just the martial arts.
It's also a culture. Also a philosophy.
It's very hard
to put that style into the movie,
especially to the Marvel movie.
We have to figure out a lot of idea,
how we're gonna
combine the style with excitement
and also keep respecting
the original culture and philosophy.
Tai chi, it looks very easy and graceful,
but it's actually
the hardest thing to learn.
Every move has a countermove
on the other side.
So, it took me literally weeks
to even just understand that concept.
Tony made it look so easy.
He learned all his moves
within the first two days,
and it took me weeks to remember all mine.
What I was doing is tiger-claw.
I think it's more like a symbolic thing.
It's a symbol
of the character's state of mind.
It feels like
it represents the aggressiveness
and anger of Wenwu's character.
Ready, and action.
Each character
has their own fight style.
We wanted each person's
character or their emotions,
or the motivations, or the plot
to be carried forward by the fight.
I like it better than this.
Every action sequence
has a different style, flavor.
We've been lucky enough
to work with different designers,
different choreographers, and everyone
has their different sort of flair.
Certainly, we take a lot
of influences from Chinese Kung fu,
but at the same time,
I think it's important to distinguish
between a Kung fu movie
and a Marvel movie.
And I think Shang-Chi is,
at its core, a Marvel movie.
What the martial arts movies
and Marvel movies have in common,
is that they express
character through action.
That's what Destin and this movie
have done a great job of,
is that scenes
that would ordinarily be dialogue-driven,
are action and fight-driven.
And that's a great way
that we've managed to
honor the genre, but also,
make it feel like a Marvel movie.
We're in the middle of our bus sequence,
which is the first time
that Shang-Chi reveals
to his best friend and to the world
that he's actually
an extremely skilled fighter.
Is there maybe a snack
that I may have gotten along the way?
- Or like a boba?
- A snack? Are you snacking?
A boba? Obviously, a boba.
We needed somebody to anchor Shang-Chi,
and to anchor him
in Asian-American culture.
There's no one better
to do that than Nora.
That is the highest
I've ever seen an umbrella.
I've never seen
an umbrella that high before.
Whoa! It's like Lady Liberty,
am I right?
I connect to Katy a lot.
I think anyone that comes
from some kind of immigrant background,
in my case, any dash-American,
will always have that kind of duality
and sense of struggle when it comes
to finding their own identity.
And I think Katy really embodies that.
She's not necessarily
against embracing her culture,
but she does know
that she's more of a stranger to it.
- "Moving on" is an American idea.
- You're American, Mom!
She brings such a fun
and unique angle to Katy.
And what we found right away,
is that we had just
such a natural chemistry working together.
And I think it speaks to just her level
of preparation and her work ethic,
and also just like our shared ability
to just kind of be goofy with each other.
The other day, I made
a U-turn into a parking spot using
Right, get ready for it.
Just my butt cheeks.
The bus scene, it's basically Shang-Chi
being revealed to Katy for the first time.
That's really what
the import of the scene is.
Katy realizes that this meek guy
"You didn't really need my help, did you?"
It was still being shot
in the last week we were here.
Yeah, it was the beginning
and end of our entire shoot.
I called it a road to nowhere.
Just never ends.
Yeah, it was really fun at first,
and then really claustrophobic.
You know, working with
some of the best stunt coordinators,
fight coordinators in the business
and coming up
with this sequence over the past,
- how long has it been, like four months?
- Four months.
- It's been seven. September, right?
- Yeah. Yeah. Yeah.
October, November, December, Jan Five.
- So, it's been
- Yeah, five.
Okay, Yung can't count.
But it's been a lot of months.
There's a version of this movie
that's very Jackie Chan.
That's kind of prop-based and comedic,
but also very real and practical.
Our stunt coordinator, Brad Allan,
was with Jackie Chan's stunt troop
and brings a lot of
that amazing skill and talent
and a lot of those people who made those
movies so great to this movie as well.
- What's the style of this fight?
- The man with the plan.
- Like, the choreography? What
- The style.
- Do you have any references it comes from?
- Yeah.
This style is come from us,
where we come from. Jackie Chan's stunts.
We're influenced by Jackie Chan.
But no style is a style,
like what Bruce Lee said.
That's then one Shang-Chi style.
That's why we're making Shang-Chi style.
Everything you can name it,
we have something there.
But we don't want to base on one thing.
We want to base
on the character and the situation,
and we create
that makes Shang-Chi outstanding.
My favorite thing,
is this move right here,
where I get to do this.
Run up here.
So, just a bit of that.
What we're going to be doing
in visual effects primarily,
is putting San Francisco
out through the windows.
We've got the lighting,
it's all rigged to emulate the lighting
as you go down through the streets,
but also taking on any wires
and rigs that the stunts people
- Really?
- Yeah, it's all it is to me, it's easy.
Basically, it's all in camera.
One of the things
that Chris constantly says,
is it's always better
to try to do it live.
Enhancing something
that is rooted in reality,
I think, allows an audience to not just
turn their brain off and go,
"That's a computer. That's a computer."
Our role was to build a rig that could
simulate that kind of bus motion.
So, for this particular bus,
we're using a six-axis gimbal.
What the six-axis gimbal gives
us is six degrees of freedom.
So, we get heave, which is up and down.
We get pitch, which is forward and back.
We get roll, which side to side.
We get yaw as well.
So, we get all those motions which
can be programmed into the system
to give the bus pretty much any motion
that would seem real-life.
We had to choreograph the fights according
to the streets of San Francisco,
of their dips, their curves,
rounds or turns,
and put that into the fight.
I was getting carsick in that thing.
You actually did get sick.
When it was turned sideways,
I thought it'd be really fun
to get on to direct,
and I got on,
and my head just started going like
I couldn't do it.
So, what we have here is,
it's a little slide on the roof of the bus
This is one of my favorite stunts
that I've had to do so far.
It basically involves doing this.
Didn't mean to go that far.
All right, here we go!
And, three, two, one, action!
- Cut! You all right?
- Yeah.
What happened? Oh, it broke.
Oh, man, it's all about applying
even pressure, even distribution of heat.
Could be a little bit more convincing.
- And then
- It's not bad.
And then jumping, I could flare my legs
out more further back,
but that's
You did the face adjustment.
I love it. It's fun.
I'm going to the corner,
which is better.
Could I get you to regrip
a little more urgently?
- You know, too much hang time.
- Yeah. Sure.
- You wanna have one more go?
- I would like one more go.
And, three, two, one, action!
Oh, man.
That concludes our time in the bus.
Gotta say, it was
a very love-hate relationship. Um
Lot of good times. Lot of bad times,
like getting hit in the shin, twice.
Do you mind? I'm doing
Just a talking head. Pardon me.
We were able to shoot
for about eight or nine weeks
before COVID swept around the world
and production shut down.
It became very apparent
we couldn't continue.
We stopped filming,
we sent many people home,
back to their countries.
Some people did stay here.
Destin, our director, stayed here and
continued to do some post-production work
because we did have about
a third of the movie shot already.
We shot entirely in sequence, so we had,
basically, the beginning of the movie done
and posted over the course
of that time that we were off.
We were able get a lot of visual effects
in the pipeline and in general,
just kind of keep refining the movie
in a way that we don't ever get to do.
It was a very big decision
to shut everything down.
And then it became a weekly,
monthly revisit,
trying to gauge when it actually
could be safe to re-open again.
We knew that we had to put
a lot of protocols in place.
One thing we had going for us on our film
was that we were filming in Australia,
and Australia did have
a very low incidents
relative to United States for sure,
of COVID cases.
When we finally got the green light
to come back,
it was just such an incredible moment.
I can't believe that I'm saying this,
but this is actually
our first day back on set
since the pandemic started,
and it's such a huge moment for all of us.
Yeah, it's honestly
just an indescribable feeling.
Don't know why
I just gave Satan horns.
The Golden Dagger is just this kind
of mix between like, a discotheque
and also like a massive fight club.
I really liked the idea
of the Shanghai ads from the 1930s,
where you had these
beautifully-dressed women
selling cigarettes
or whatever they were selling.
And the aesthetic of that
was the first idea
we had for the graffiti in the nightclub.
And then my amazing graphic design team
just took that idea
and sort of mashed it up
with modern graffiti, Asian graffiti,
Western graffiti,
and we just threw it all in there,
and came up with what I think
is a really great aesthetic
for that nightclub,
it feels very fresh and modern.
Yeah, she started shooting
this whole scene pre-pandemic.
In order to try and fill the place out,
we decided to employ these lovely actors,
which are mannequins.
And the mannequins are here
and being spaced around
and placed all over the place
to try to fill the space out, to make it
feel like we have all these people.
Xu Xialing!
Shang-Chi needed to be surrounded
by two strong female characters
who represented
the two worlds that he's from.
Meng'er represents the modern,
Chinese female experience.
We did a big search, and it was
very important to us to find an actor
who was from China, who grew up there,
and who speaks
Mandarin as their primary language.
Meng'er is easily the goofiest
of the bunch.
She's just such a light and a spark
and always finds a way to make us laugh.
She is always the first person
at the snack table.
Simu is just like my brother.
Yeah. He sometimes annoys me,
sometimes takes care of me.
But most of the time, he annoys me.
Fight me, brother. Fight me. Fight me.
Gonna call my agent.
He can't. He can't fight me.
Jokes aside, he brings genuine sibling
connection with me,
on and off set.
The fight between Shang-Chi and Xialing,
we just wanted it to feel like a brother
and sister arguing,
but doing it through
a physical expression.
Three, two, one, go!
I have three sisters and two brothers.
So, I know what it feels like
to be in that seemingly very aggressive,
emotional fight,
but knowing that
you're still in a safe place
'cause there's no way you would
actually hurt the other person.
It's fun and brutal,
but it's also just watching two siblings
work through their crap together.
I forgot that part. I forgot that part.
- Zhang, are you okay?
- Yeah. Yeah, I'm fine.
What's been
extremely gratifying for me
is seeing Meng'er from the moment
that she arrived to now.
Because I've watched literally
like a fighter come out of a child.
Another big action sequence
is a scaffolding fight.
Which is outside the building,
like, 20 floors high.
Oh, hell no. Screw you!
I'm not doing this.
When you actually put the people
in the straight wall
And it's very difficult.
So, we build a wall, 45 degree.
Special effects department that
built this set on this incredible rig,
which leans
the entire set back 45 degrees,
so that the stunts department,
they're able to work with this set
either in a vertical position
or a 45 degree position.
So, I'm here with one
of my stunt doubles, Sunny.
Sunny, he's one of the people that puts
his life on the line everyday.
And really just gives a 100%
of his mind, his body,
and his soul to his craft.
Three, two, one, action!
The stunt team
I mean there's stuff that they do
that I would not do
for any amount of money.
Every actor wants to go in front
of a talk show and say,
how they did their own stunts
and the reality is,
these people are professionals,
they've been training their whole lives,
they train every single day.
I would be disrespecting their efforts
if I said that I did all my stunts,
'cause it's not true.
Simu was actually really keen
on doing a lot of it.
He's always bummed when
the doubles sometimes go in
and you could see Simu actually
being legitimately down sometimes.
He's like, "I really want to do this."
Like, so it just shows
how much he wants it.
And how, I guess, just excited
he is to get in front and do this stuff.
Let me try one more
'cause I feel like we're close.
Yeah, and then if we can't get it,
then, we'll be back.
All right.
Is what he said about
your mom's village true?
She used to tell us stories
about Ta Lo when we were kids.
Ta Lo was just
such an incredible set,
it really felt like we were completely
somewhere else.
Sue and her team built
an entire village for us to shoot on.
It's mind-blowing what her
and her team put together.
It's transformative.
When we're saying we're going to set,
we just say we're going to Ta Lo.
It's very important to build the sets
practically as much as possible.
And in the village in particular,
we decided to build all of these buildings
the way they might have been built,
we really studied
the Chinese architecture,
and we erected them in a way
that would make sense.
We had to come in here
and do quite a bit of grading
in order to build all of our buildings.
And, as you can see, each of them
has a little stone foundation,
some bigger than others.
We wanted the temple in the middle
because the notion of the ancestors
and this long line of protectors
was a big part of what Destin
wanted to convey in that,
a person is made of where they come from.
The level of detail
as you go around the village,
as you see the individual houses
and the temple
I mean, it's just absolutely phenomenal.
They built houses,
full houses with toilets in them.
Maybe not toilets here
'cause I don't know if that's the vibe,
but the point is that they're putting
in full plumbing and it's incredible.
To walk into the weaponry
and pick up a tool
and know that somebody went through
the trouble of making this tool
that is specific to cutting Dragon Scale.
All of those details may not make
it to the final big screen,
but they will in what it does
to an actor and their performances.
Even the floor on one house that the
interior of which is possibly never seen,
is deep green tiles.
A lazier filmmaker would say,
"It doesn't matter.
The audience won't see it,"
the actor sees it
and it feeds the actor's energy.
It places the actor
in this beautiful village.
And wherever the eye looked,
we are fed by this wonderful ambience.
Because Ta Lo is kind of this, like,
supernatural, interdimensional place,
we had a lot of creative liberties
to introduce creatures
that were not of this world.
We have many that are influenced
by ancient Chinese folklore and culture.
Things like the nine-tailed foxes,
fire birds, and the Ch'i-lin.
It's a horse-like, dragon-like,
deer-like creature,
and I have one tattooed on my back
and have for years.
Now, there's one in the movie,
and it's like,
"That's awesome."
That's super cool.
That's a weird horse.
What's it looking at me for?
The Fu dogs, which looks sort
of like lion, sort of like dogs.
There's always two
on both sides of an entrance.
They're very built into Chinese mythology.
To be able to finally see
what one looks like is amazing.
I have a lovely companion, Morris,
who's a pet and a companion
and a guide and a mentor.
My animus.
- Oh, oh!
- What is that?
- What's what? What's what?
- That. That. That.
This is Morris.
Morris is based on a Hundun,
which is a mythological character
thought to be sort of the
God of Chaos and Confusion.
We use this stuffy for our
sort of what we call a proxy,
which gives the actors a prop,
so that they can be physically holding
something and reacting to it.
At one point, we actually asked Sir Ben,
if it was okay
if we change this for something else,
and he said, "No, no,
I've grown quite fond of Morris."
I built a rapport with Davi,
who operates Morris.
I said, "Davi, you are my puppeteer.
"You are my fellow actor.
We must build a rapport."
So, I was not working
with an abstract lump of green.
I was working with a creature
because Davi was so sensitive
in the scene to,
"What would Morris do in this scene?"
He'd probably jump up,
he'd probably want a little tickle,
or he'd probably be scared,
or he'd probably want
to wake his master up.
Perfect. So, a green screen, and visual
effects do not have to be deadly.
You were everything to her.
She knew that one day
you would find your way here
and asked me to prepare
something for your arrival.
I knew that I was gonna get a suit.
Every superhero has a suit.
Our first day with the suit.
Which is really exciting.
Shang-Chi's hero costume
was a Marvel illustration by Andy Park.
He's definitely starting to leave behind
some of his American culture
and clothing looks and getting
slowly closer to his true self.
The main thing as a character designer
that I'm trying to do,
is bring a story into his look.
For Shang-Chi,
his story is really about his family.
His mother comes from Ta Lo,
so from the great protector,
I wanted to incorporate dragon scales,
dragon skin.
When it came to the triangle motif,
I had the idea of incorporating
the infinite knot or the endless knot.
It's a symbol that has been used
throughout various cultures
for thousands of years.
And certainly, in Chinese culture.
It symbolizes the endless cycle of life
and death and rebirth,
which is definitely applicable
to the story of Shang-Chi.
When he ran away,
he came to America.
So, even though he's given the suit,
I wanted one element to be his.
So, that's why you saw him
with his Air Jordans.
He's also a product of his father.
So, at the end of the film, he receives
the Ten Rings, which completes his look.
You see his mom, you see his dad,
you see when he was living in America
and his shoes.
So, it tells the full story
of his whole journey.
Of course, there is nowhere
to go buy dragon skin.
And, so, for us,
that means carving all the scales,
and then molding hundreds and thousands
and thousands of scales.
And in fact, each suit has about
14,000 tiny individual scales,
glued on to it, by hand, by our team.
To be honest, it was very emotional,
trying it on for the first time.
I understood the weight and the gravity
and the significance of what that meant,
you know, and understanding
just how precious few people
experience that kind of feeling.
How do you feel? How do you feel wearing
the suit for the first time?
Right? That's how I feel.
We're in the bamboo practice dome,
where Shaun's character
in the movie basically learns
this whole new style of martial arts
from his aunt.
Watching Michelle kick Simu's butt
was really fun.
It was very surreal shooting
that scene with Michelle
because I've been such a die-hard fan
of hers for so long
and to be able to meet her
and work with her
and find out how lovely she is,
how silly she is,
how weird she is,
and how much fun she is,
was really a huge highlight for all of us.
In terms of Asian representation and
especially female Asian representation,
Michelle has always played
nothing but strong women,
and growing up watching someone like that,
it impacts who you want to become
and how you see yourself,
especially when there are not a lot of us.
Working with Michelle, who's so good.
'Cause when you're doing Tai chai
with two people, it's like a dance,
you know, and you flow only
as well as the other person flows.
She's so just steady and graceful
in all of her movements.
I feel like a bit of a schlub next to her,
but thankfully, that's kind of the cadence
of the fight to begin with.
So, I think I played my part very well.
It's a fun character to play.
Aunties are always fun.
My character helps him understand
that you have to know who you are,
and the only way you know
and love who you are,
is by accepting the whole package.
This is our big
final battle sequence basically,
where the Ten Rings organization
faces off against the forces of Ta Lo.
This is a crazy assembly
of martial arts masters.
Guang Bo, who we meet
in the mystic village of Ta Lo,
he's played by this amazing actor,
Yuen Wah, a martial arts legend,
who doubled for Bruce Lee,
who brings this great
wealth of knowledge to the movie.
Here we go. Ready, and action.
It's always a challenge,
trying to
make it look real
without someone getting hurt.
We have some battles
with a lot of weapons.
And like every movie,
when you put 'em that close
and then sticks that are six-foot-long,
swinging 'em around,
there were big challenges.
We have to train everybody.
There's special skill extras,
they all martial arts background.
Action. Ready, and, action!
It gets very complicated,
'cause sometimes,
we have to do our foreground.
The actor fights
with the different parts of a background.
So, they actually work the hardest
because they fought the sun,
fighting all day long.
That wasn't easy.
So, here's a story, right.
I show up to work, and they're like,
"Listen, your stunt double
is gonna get put in a wire rig
"and then flung out 40 feet out that way."
"And you're not going to do it."
And I was like, "The hell I'm not."
"Put me in that harness right now."
Three, two, one, action!
And, cut!
It's pretty cool.
Simu is brave and bold.
There's no doubt he works very, very hard.
He's always, like, ready.
"Let me do this. Let me do that."
And I'm like, "Just sit down, dude."
Just to reiterate, in this scene,
I have to fight off three demons
and then catch my sister
who's being snatched
by a tentacled beast in midair.
Ready? And pull!
Yeah, there wasn't a whole lot
of acting going on.
And you're being dragged out two ways.
We are heading into our last week.
We're on mile 24
of the, uh
Of the marathon.
You can feel the fatigue
and the weariness all around set,
but, uh, everyone's still pulling through.
How do you feel, Alex?
I didn't know that.
Now, I sound like an idiot.
I honestly don't know
what I expected going in.
It's my first feature film of any sort.
Let alone a feature film of this size
and magnitude.
Whoa! Oh
Then do your move.
Yeah, that's how you saddle.
Move? What the
I think it's just how much of a grind
everything is, has come as a surprise.
All right, once again.
It is such a dream to be here
every day and to be working,
as my first film,
but also as one of the only films that are
able to shoot around the world right now.
But it really
Yeah, it's hard. It's hard.
There's a lot of fighting,
a lot of fighting.
I kind of wish Shang-Chi was a master
of nonviolent de-escalation sometimes.
You were there when they came for her,
and you did nothing.
You stood at a window
and watched her die!
When we see Shaun face off against
his father for the first time,
he's emotionally all over the place.
He's letting his anger
get the better of him.
And he's just really just being controlled
by his emotions,
rather than controlling them.
You trained your son to be a killer.
Is this what you wanted?
For Shaun, his maternal half
and his paternal half
represent very different parts
of his personality,
and he doesn't really feel like
he belongs in either which world.
He's got a thousand years
of sin and destruction
living somewhere inside
of him from his dad,
and he has this peaceful
but powerful opposite to that,
also living in him, from his mom.
His journey is not as simple as just
rejecting Dad and bringing in Mom.
It's him recognizing
that both of them are in him,
and both of them
are neither good nor evil.
They are just a part of him,
and that's what he has to work with.
Once he recognizes that,
that's when we see him blasting
out of the water on a dragon.
You can see when he makes
his first pose,
that he's in a place
that he's never quite been before.
He's very grounded and at peace.
He's still got to stop his father, but he
doesn't do it from a place of anger.
He's doing it from a place of love.
I think we made
that action sequence very beautifully.
I think that the relationship
and the story
is very interesting inside the fight.
Yeah, you see things that Li does
while fighting Wu,
you start seeing more
of his mother start come through
Shaun towards the end,
which culminates to,
I guess, sort of a perfect merge
of father and mother within Shaun.
Shaun and Wenwu
are trying to find each other again,
rather than just being
about who's stronger than the other,
whose martial arts are better. It's like,
this is a family that's trying
to find its way back together.
And I think that's
really beautiful for a fight.
It's really been incredible
to watch Simu sink into this character
and take complete ownership over it.
Over the course of this year,
I've watched him
in a lot of ways, go on the journey
that Shang-Chi goes on.
Shang-Chi starts out in this movie
completely out of his element
and learns over the course
of this journey,
how to own himself,
how to be happy with himself,
and look in the mirror
and be proud of what he sees.
And I've watched Simu really
tap into that character.
It was a very inspiring
and moving experience for me to witness.
And cutting.
Finishing picture to our Meng'er
and our lead man, Simu.
Finishing picture.
I was a kid who was born
halfway around the world,
who immigrated
when he was very young
and had parents that never even dreamed of
allowing their son to go into
show business.
It just feels like I was plucked out of my
life and sent on this wild, wild ride.
And I'm still trying to figure out,
"How did I get picked?"
I have no words.
This is the most
incredible thing for me.
Guys, this is as much
as a Cinderella story for me
as you could ever find in the universe.
I mean, a year ago, I was just some guy
and now, for some reason, I'm a superhero,
and you guys all helped
make that dream come true.
And I honestly am so blown away
by all of your work.
I know that it probably
doesn't hold a lot of water
when I say that you're the best film crew
that I've ever worked with
but you're the best film crew
that I will ever work with,
so, there you go.
You know, as a movie fan,
I grew up on American movies
and I've never seen characters
like myself on-screen,
it's incredibly meaningful.
It's incredibly important.
I've grown up
looking at the Marvel Comics
and know a bit about the Marvel world.
And I've never seen a superhero
that looks something like me.
And I'm really pleased
because it truly is the right time
for our little boys
and girls to go and say,
"Oh, look, we're superheroes, too."
When you see a superhero,
you see yourself.
I think that's the really important
thing that movies like this does for kids.
It allows them to feel the possibility,
and it's only going to add to that
and hopefully, will continue to open
the door for more movies like this.
I hope Shang-Chi is another step.
If Shang-Chi is the end,
then we have failed.
I could not be more proud of the way that
this movie has allowed us to bring up
more representation, both,
in front of and behind the camera.
And I think the world just is hungry
for movies that reflect who we are
and all of our colors.
I think Shang-Chi has
a very bright future within the MCU.
When I look forward to super teams
and crossovers,
Shaun feels like this huge,
untapped reservoir
of great possibilities
from Simu and beyond.
And that's our show. So, thank you for
tuning in to watch this documentary.
I hope you learned something
about the magic of filmmaking,
or something about Marvel
or cinema or anything.
But it's been my pleasure
to spend the last little while with you
and I can't wait for you to see the movie.
Take care.
I don't think
this will make the documentary.
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