Though Marvel's Shang-Chi movie doesn't have any obvious connections to any pre-existing movie franchise or character in the MCU, it's possible that Hawkeye's story in Avengers: Endgame can subtly set the stage for the Master of Kung Fu to make his live-action debut.
In the comic books, Shang-Chi is a Chinese martial artist who uses his skills to battle both gangsters and supervillains alongside many of Marvel's biggest heroes, including Captain America and Spider-Man. In December, it was reported that a Shang-Chi film was moving forward at Marvel Studios with Wonder Woman 1984 writer David Callaham penning the script. Earlier this month, it was revealed that Short Term 12 director Destin Daniel Cretton is being brought in to helm the project. No release date for Shang-Chi has been set, but it's likely that the film will fall somewhere into Phase 4 of the MCU.
Shang-Chi is an interesting film for the MCU. Marvel has never made a martial arts movie before and, in the comics, Shang-Chi exists in a corner of the Marvel Universe that doesn't have much to do with aliens, magic, or anything else that's audiences have become accustomed to over the past 11 years. He actually has much stronger connections to the TV side of that world; it would be easy to imagine Shang-Chi appearing in an episode of Iron Fist, The Defenders, or some other Netflix show, where street-level heroes are the primary focus.
As a result, the idea of the Master of Kung Fu popping up in a Marvel movie like Avengers: Endgame may seem out of place. However, while Marvel may intend to save any mention of Shang-Chi for his solo movie, there may actually be a few scenes in Avengers: Endgame where a Shang-Chi reference could work perfectly.
Part of the fourth Avengers movie was filmed in Japan. These scenes are connected to Hawkeye's introduction as Ronin: following the death of his family in Thanos' snap, Clint Barton becomes a masked fighter and hunts down members of the Yakuza until Black Widow tracks him down in Tokyo.
In the comics, Shang-Chi has had his own share of encounters with the Yakuza. In Marvel Comics Presents #4, Shang-Chi goes undercover to infiltrate the criminal organization, possibly similar to Hawkeye's role in Avengers: Endgame. It would certainly make sense for Shang-Chi's name to be dropped in one of the scenes with Ronin and the Yakuza. The moment could be similar to a line in Captain America: Winter Soldier where Stephen Strange was mentioned in a list of potential threats to HYDRA; while a Shang-Chi reference in Avengers: Endgame could serve as a small, easy-to-miss Easter egg, it could still be a fun moment that would help add hype to his proper MCU debut.
- The Avengers 4 / Avengers: Endgame (2019) release date: Apr 26, 2019
- Spider-Man: Far From Home (2019) release date: Jul 02, 2019