Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings looks set to bring some genuinely neat martial arts action to the MCU. The character is renowned for his hand-to-hand skills, with the plot reportedly centering on the titular hero battling his way through a fighting tournament in order to win the Ten Rings. Along the way, he’ll fight mystical and magical opponents, apparently concluding with a titanic battle against the dragon Fin Fang Foom.
But wait, if that’s all true, doesn’t it sound suspiciously familiar? After all, isn’t Mortal Kombat about a fighting tournament involving mystical and magical opponents? Even more egregiously, Shang-Chi sounds very similar to Mortal Kombat‘s Liu Kang, doesn’t he?
YouTuber and industry insider Grace Randolph certainly thinks so and has even called out Marvel for this, saying that from what she’s heard, the film is basically just a ripoff of the aforementioned video game adaptation.
“I am really surprised that all through development for Shang-Chi, there wasn’t a single person who raised their hand at Marvel and said, ‘You know what, that is like the exact same plot as Mortal Kombat,’ — which has been around for over twenty-five years and has a very large and definitely not shy fan base.”
It’s an argument that seems a bit strange, as at least half of all martial arts movies ever involve a fighting tournament at some point. Mortal Kombat was even specifically designed as an homage to classic martial arts film, so it’s a bit rich to hold it up as some kind of wholly original concept that Marvel Studios are deviously stealing from. And as for Liu Kang and Shang-Chi sharing similarities? Well, they’re both obviously based on Bruce Lee. In fact, both properties are essentially a modern riff on the 1973 classic Enter the Dragon.
If Shang-Chi turns out to have a collection of multi-colored ninjas that throw ice, spears and smoke bombs, a brutal four-armed monster or a guy popping up in the corner of the screen and chirping “toasty!”, then you might have a case. But honestly, to me at least, claiming that Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings is ripping off Mortal Kombat just shows you don’t know much about martial arts movies.