Benedict Wong reprises his role as Wong in Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings, and here’s why he’s in the movie in the first place.
Why does Wong appear in Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings, particularly instead of Doctor Strange who has always been the franchise’s go-to sorcerer? There are several reasons why Wong is in Shang-Chi. Following Avengers: Infinity War and Avengers: Endgame, sorcerers have become a valuable body of superheroes as the world gets weirder and more dangerous. No longer is the Marvel Cinematic Universe solely about defending Earth. In Phase 4 of the MCU, there are even greater and more complex threats at play that require the attention of sorcerers and other magic-users, many of which are prominently featured not just in the cast of Shang-Chi, but also in Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, Spider-Man: No Way Home, and Moon Knight.
Indeed, MCU’s Phase 4 is introducing several new heroes right out of the gate, the biggest inclusions being Shang-Chi, Moon Knight, the Eternals, and America Chavez. Marvel Studios has broken ground in recent years by having the first Black-led and female-led movies in the franchise – with more on the way – and thanks to Shang-Chi, the studio had the first Asian-led superhero film.
There are several reasons why Wong is in Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings instead of operating alongside Doctor Strange. The first reason for Wong’s inclusion in Shang-Chi (and the one most-discussed behind the scenes) is that Benedict Wong is a British actor of Chinese descent, and it simply makes the most sense for Wong to be part of the origins of Marvel’s first Asian superhero. The second reason is that Doctor Strange is presumably busy with other in-universe matters at the Sanctum Sanctorum, while Wong handles other affairs related to the sorcerers’ sanctuary, Kamar-Taj, as well as Abomination. This is also a result of the third factor: Wong is the MCU’s new Sorcerer Supreme. While matters like The Mandarin’s Ten Rings would’ve previously fallen under Doctor Strange’s scope of responsibility, this burden now falls on Wong, who is the main representative of Kamar-Taj and the Masters of the Mystic Arts. Wong is also basically the MCU’s new Phil Coulson, which means that the Sorcerer Supreme is likely to appear in every major MCU Phase 4 project.
Wong Is The New Coulson
Wong’s role is quickly becoming an interesting, universe-expanding one, essentially making him MCU Phase 4’s replacement for Phil Coulson, who served as the glue that tied everything in Phase 1. Before the Avengers formed to fight their first battle, Phil Coulson and SHIELD popped up every now and again to gel everything together. In Phase 4, the original Avengers are disbanded, and Coulson is dead. That’s why Wong is in Shang-Chi, as his presence ensures that everyone still remembers that they are part of the MCU. Wong appeared in both Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings and Spider-Man: No Way Home in 2021 then returned in Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness in 2022. and these performances go a long way toward laying the foundation for the next big Avengers team-up.
Furthermore, using Wong to bring Shang-Chi and Katy into the fold in Shang-Chi‘s credits scene hypes up their future in the MCU but also downplays the severity of the situation. If Strange had shown up, there would’ve been a throughline to Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, implying that the new characters would appear in the sequel. Instead, Wong was the perfect candidate to satisfy all aspects Marvel wanted to accomplish – having a familiar face find Shang-Chi in his movie – without overpromising anything to audiences. In fact, the fifth and perhaps most crucial reason why Wong is in Shang-Chi instead of Doctor Strange is that no other Sorcerer Supreme would have done better at singing karaoke with Shang-Chi and Katy than Wong. Audiences not only get to see Wong finally loosen up, but it also frustratingly occurs without Stephen there to finally see Kamar-Taj’s strict librarian taking his advice, setting up future banter between Katy, Shang-Chi, Wong, and Stephen.
Why Wong Is The Sorcerer Supreme In Doctor Strange 2
The MCU’s current Sorcerer Supreme, Wong, was promoted to the position when Doctor Strange was erased out of existence by the Infinity Stones during Thanos’ snap. After Hulk used the Nano Gauntlet to reverse the snap’s effects, Doctor Strange and everyone else who was snapped away returned, but the responsibilities of Sorcerer Supreme stayed in Wong’s hands. This is mainly because the position of Sorcerer Supreme cannot be left vacant for too long, as there are always forces that threaten the fabric of reality, and Kamar-Taj needs someone at Wong or Strange’s level to assume control of Earth’s defenses. Though Strange has returned, Wong has already filled the position, and as revealed throughout Phase 4, Wong is fully capable of fulfilling the related responsibilities. Indeed, the sixth reason why Wong is in Shang-Chi is that it allows for further character development, as Wong is simply a better candidate than Strange for the role of Sorcerer Supreme in MCU Phase 4.
In fact, Shang-Chi, Doctor Strange 2, and Spider-Man: No Way Home all contain elements that show why Wong is the Sorcerer Supreme even though Doctor Strange has returned. Shang-Chi shows that Wong could be the mentor Shang-Chi needs in his journey to understand the origins of the Ten Rings and his newfound cosmic powers. Meanwhile, Doctor Strange’s infamous memory spell from No Way Home, which Wong strongly advised him not to do, shows that Stephen is still too careless with his natural talents for magic. Though destined to be the greatest Sorcerer Supreme in history, Strange is still about as dangerous as he is useful. This crucial point is further driven home by Doctor Strange 2‘s Illuminati, which took dire steps to stop the incursions being caused by Stephen’s Variant in their universe. Meanwhile, Wong is usually one of the few forces to voice opposition to Stephen’s dangerous plans. Stephen might be the most powerful sorcerer on Earth, but Wong is the most reasonable and responsible, which is really what being Sorcerer Supreme is all about. Moreover, should humanity’s fate ever need deciding through a cosmic karaoke battle, Earth’s Mightiest Heroes know exactly who to call.
Next: Why It’s Important Wong Is In Shang-Chi
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