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Shang-Chi: How the Next MCU Superstar Joined the Avengers

When the Marvel Universe was dying in the days before Secret Wars, Shang-Chi joined the Avengers, giving them a steady and committed new member.

For much of his comic book history, Shang-Chi has been more of a solo, street-level hero. Shang-Chi may be the Master of Kung Fu, but he hasn’t been known to regularly mingle with powerhouses like Thor or Iron Man. However, Shang-Chi truly expanded his horizons when he joined the Avengers in the 2010s.

Shang-Chi joined Earth’s Mightiest Heroes in 2012’s Avengers #2, by Jonathan Hickman and Jerome Opeña. During this time, Iron Man was trying to convince Captain America that the Avengers needed to get bigger, expanding their roster for all potential scenarios.

Tony Stark approached Shang-Chi, encouraging him to try out some high-tech weapons that would complement his martial arts skills. Shang-Chi was initially dismissive of using these weapons, but he still became a valued member of the Avengers. And in the very next issue, Shang-Chi went to Mars to help rescue his fellow Avengers from the Garden.

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After this first mission, Shang-Chi became a welcome presence on the team. One of Shang-Chi’s most impactful moments came in Avengers #6, by Hickman and Adam Kubert. In this issue, Shang-Chi sat down with Captain Universe in order to figure out how and why the Enigma Force had come to Earth. Shang-Chi shared a touching moment with Captain Universe’s host, Tamara Devoux, meditating with her and giving her pie so he could reach her.

Not only did Shang-Chi learn why the Enigma Force came to Earth, he managed to connect with Tamara on a personal level, helping her understand how she came to be Captain Universe. Another incredible moment came in Avengers #11, by Hickman and Mike Deodato, Jr. when Shang-Chi accompanied his fellow Avengers to Macau, where they were investigating A.I.M.’s activities.

While the rest of the Avengers came up short on information, Shang-Chi learned quite a bit, in a rather impressive way. Shang-Chi took on a horde of ninjas, using electric nunchaku that Tony Stark made for him. After defeating them all, Shang-Chi learned that A.I.M. was hiring mercenaries, a rather important piece of information. Shang-Chi showed impressive skills in both fighting and gathering intelligence, showing why he was chosen to be an Avenger.

During “Infinity,” Shang-Chi went to space with the Avengers, where he helped fight off the Builders and Thanos’ forces, saving planets across the galaxy. This was fairly new territory for Shang-Chi, as a street-level hero. Still, Shang-Chi took to it very well, maintaining his usual composure and excellent fighting skill, both of which the Avengers needed. In 2014’s Avengers World #1, by Hickman, Nick Spencer and Stefano Caselli, Shang-Chi ventured into more familiar territory on a mission to Madripoor.

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There, he fought Gorgon and the Hand, who were trying to awaken a dragon beneath the island. While Shang-Chi couldn’t stop the Hand from raising the dragon, he was instrumental in subduing it. Shang-Chi took Pym Particles, grew to an immense size and defeated the dragon.

Moments like these illustrated how crucial Shang-Chi was to the Avengers, tackling familiar threats in new and exciting ways. Shang-Chi’s later appeared in Avengers #39, by Hickman and Caselli, when he joined Sunspot’s version of the team. Sunspot’s Avengers were determined to save the universe while Captain America’s Avengers were busy hunting down Iron Man and the Illuminati. The fact that Shang-Chi joined this group demonstrated his steadiness as a character, which the Avengers sorely needed at the time. Shang-Chi’s most heroic moment, however, might have arrived in Avengers World #20, by Frank Barbiere and Marco Checchetto.

When an origin bomb landed in Kobe, Japan, Shang-Chi went to investigate. There, he encountered strange alien material, which he decided to enter. Shang-Chi had a vision where he was forced to fight himself. Accepting his own demons, Shang-Chi proved worthy of the power from the origin bomb and gained the ability to self-replicate.

Overall, cases like these showed how much of a steady, calming influence Shang-Chi had on the Avengers. When the universe was dying in the lead up to Secret Wars in “Time Runs Out,” Shang-Chi was there, dedicated to fighting for life. No matter the threat, be it alien or terrestrial, Shang-Chi was a stable presence on the Avengers who was committed to his job. Shang-Chi not only expanded his horizons by becoming an Avenger, he also helped the Avengers take on seemingly impossible tasks.

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