Though he often operates alone as the Master of Kung Fu, in more recent years Shang-Chi has found cooperation is something he has a knack for. He has proven on several occasions that he is a formidable and reliable team member, and has been selected for several Avengers rosters as a result. Called upon personally by Captain America twice to be a part of Earth’s Mightiest Heroes, the man with the deadly hands of Kung Fu has more than earned his stripes in the big time.
Surprisingly easygoing for a man who can end someone’s life a million ways with just his hands and feet, Shang-Chi brings a certain levity to the proceedings. Not only that, but he has studied well under some of the Avengers’ greatest leaders, becoming a competent director of traffic himself. The Master of Kung Fu has even helped his fellow heroes improve their skills, developing Spider-Fu with his fellow Avenger, Spider-Man.
So, how did Shang-Chi find himself on the Avengers roster in the first place, and what does he bring to their already star-studded table? Let’s examine the martial artist extraordinaire closer!
While Steve Rogers was at the head of the Secret Avengers, he carefully selected a team to best deal with the pressing issues the more public Avengers team could not. This included seizing incredibly dangerous artifacts under the cover of darkness, operating on foreign soil in an unauthorized capacity and confronting corrupt, dangerous shadow organizations hellbent on destruction.
Steve’s incarnation of the Secret Avengers had an interesting roster, choosing a more out-of-the-box approach. Alongside Shang-Chi were heroes like Valkyrie, Ant-Man and even Nova. Shang-Chi quickly set about proving himself to be a valuable member of the team, coming into direct conflict with Hydra and The Hand.
In one instance, Steve was briefing the team about an extremely powerful artifact that Hydra and The Hand were planning on using for their own gain. When the team arrived at their Quinjet to begin hunting down the object, Shang-Chi was waiting for them with the artifact already recovered. It turns out he’d single-handedly taken down a complex full of Hand operatives and completed the mission alone. Nice one, Shang!
INFINITY AND DUPLICATION
Though he left the Secret Avengers, this would not be the end of Shang-Chi’s ties with Earth's premiere super-team. Being an inactive member now, he could be called upon if needed, and this is where the Avengers Machine came in. This gathering was a large team devised by both Steve Rogers and Tony Stark to fit every possible need and situation. There were off-world Avengers for galactic threats and street-level operatives like Spider-Man and Shang-Chi for local matters. Each of the heroes included were called in for their enormous talent.
Their timing appeared to be impeccable, it would seem, as Earth was attacked by Ex Nihilo, a being who sought to terraform the planet and improve it as it saw fit. Using bombs with different properties of metamorphosis, he besieged several locations across the planet. The Avengers actually managed to come to a peaceful conclusion with Ex Nihilo, as they shared the same concerns: a collapsing universe. The Avengers and their new allies banded together to fight the powerful Builders out in the far reaches of space.
One would think this was above Shang-Chi’s pay grade, given his regular street-level operations. However, with a few technological upgrades, including Stark Tech nunchucks, he was able to hold his own on the galactic stage. Some time later, during an event known as Time Runs Out, Shang-Chi was present at one of Ex Nihilo's landing sites and reached out to one of the capsules that had made planetfall. The biological object altered the hero and seemingly gave him the power to replicate himself.
After his adventures in outer space, it was business as usual back on Earth for Shang Chi. Now a staple member of the Avengers, he had to contend with an old foe, The Hand. During Avengers World, Shang was sent on an extremely dangerous mission to battle a villain known as Gorgon.
The battle was impossible to win, with The Hand having strange magics in place to help Gorgon wake a dormant dragon beneath the city of Madripoor. After seemingly being thrown from the now-flying city atop the dragon, Shang-Chi returned enlarged by Pym Particles, growing to the size of a Kaiju.
He did battle with the enormous dragon that was now rampaging with Gorgon and his Hand operatives in tow, able to better the beast with his martial arts prowess. He tore the base of Gorgon’s operations from the dragon’s back and threw it for miles, helping to defeat The Hand temporarily.
SETTING AN EXAMPLE
Following the rebuilding of the multiverse after Secret Wars, Shang-Chi returned to operating as a solo hero, helping to protect the streets when needed. However, still retaining his experiences (like many others after the multiverse reboot), he decided to use all he had learned about teamwork to assist heroes when possible.
One of the more notable roles he took on was becoming a teacher to the mutant Domino. Not only did he assist in honing her hand-to-hand combat abilities, he managed to help her control her powers to an extent. While in the past her powers of luck were entirely random, Shang-Chi helped her focus through the chaos and probability within to manipulate the odds of her powers manifesting.
Shang-Chi currently operates as a mentor to the New Agents of Atlas, a team formed during War of the Realms to protect Asia from the Queen of Muspelheim’s invasion. He helps train the team in combat and even managed to humble Sun Wukong the Monkey God by embarrassing him with the speed of his martial arts.