Shang-Chi finds himself face-to-face with a dragon in Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings, which is revealed to be the “Great Protector.” On the first reveal of the creature n Shang-Chi‘s marketing, some assumed it would be a version of the comic book villain Fin Fang Foom (a.k.a “He Whose Limbs Shatter Mountains and Whose Back Scrapes the Sun”), but that is not the case.
Not to be confused with Shou-Lao, the dragon that Danny Rand fought in order to become the Immortal Iron Fist, Fin Fang Foom is an alien who hails from the distant planet of Kakaranthara. He came to Earth along with several other members of his race (known as the Makluans, the Axonn-Karr, or the Space Dragons) eons ago, after growing bored of how peaceful life was on Kakaranthara and deciding to seek out new worlds to conquer. It was Fin Fang Foom’s voyage that first brought the Ten Rings of Power to Earth, where they ultimately ended up being wielded by the Mandarin – who, in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, is replaced by Wenwu, Shang-Chi’s father.
Despite speculation, Simu Liu debunked rumors that Fin Fang Foom would appear, counting the dragon (who has a clumsy and rather racist attempt to create a Chinese-sounding name) among the “questionable elements” from the comics that won’t be included in the movie. But even though the Great Protector isn’t Fin Fang Foom, the pair could share an origin, and the links to the Ten Rings could see the great villainous dragon appear in Shang-Chi’s future.
The Great Protector’s Powers & Origin
In Shang-Chi, it is revealed that The Great Protector originally came to Ta Lo when the Dweller-In-Darkness attacked the mystical realm, wiping out a great city (not unlike Wakanda) and the majority of Ta Lo’s magical residents. The dragon appeared as a hail mary, not only fighting off the demon, but also providing dragon scales to keep it at bay behind the portal to the other dimension. The scales were also gifted to Ta Lo’s defenders to forge weapons and protective armor and shields, seemingly retaining magical powers even when detached from the great dragon. In combat, the Great Protector is fearsome, thanks in part to its scales, with the Dweller-in-Darkness only able to pinpoint the dragon’s soul as a weak point, through its unprotected mouth. The dragon is presumably immortal or has the power of great longevity, considering its life span, but there’s no origin story explaining where it came from. The suggestion is magical rather than alien, but The Great Protector could still be a member of the Makluan or Space Dragon race from Marvel comics.
Is Shang-Chi’s Great Protector Based On Fin Fang Foom?
As revealed in the trailers for Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings, Shang-Chi finds himself face-to-face with the Great Protector after falling into deep water during the battle for Ta Lo. The movie itself subsequently revealed that the creature is not aggressive, unlike Fin Fang Foom, who generally responds to being awoken by going on a destructive rampage. In contrast, The Great Protector is, as the name suggests, Ta Lo’s protector against threats from the dark realms.
The Great Protector does not resemble the comics version of Fin Fang Foom at all; instead of being green with a wide mouth and jutting lower jaw, the dragon is red and white with a gentle-looking face. Shang-Chi‘s dragon is also an Oriential or Eastern dragon, while Fin Fang Foom is more recognizably Western in design with six limbs including wings. The two appear not to be related in any way.
How Shang-Chi Can Set Up Fin Fang Foom’s MCU Appearance
Despite the dragon not appearing in Shang-Chi, a sequel may still be able to use Fin Fang Foom especially now that the MCU has set a precedent for dragons existing. Shang-Chi’s post-credits scene obviously sets up further exploration into the origin of the Ten Rings, with Wong, Bruce Banner and Captain Marvel examining them. Intriguingly, the Rings are also shown to be emitting a signal beacon, presumably alerting their creator (or descendants of them) to their whereabouts. Quite why the beacon hadn’t been acted on while Wenwu was using them remains to be seen, but it seems likely that the beacon will lead to the arrival of whoever or whatever created them. And if the MCU is going to follow the comics origin of the Ten Rings, then that means Fin Fang Foom will be at the other end of that beacon.
How Fin Fang Foom Is Connected To The Ten Rings
Where “The Dragon Seed Saga” comes into play for Shang-Chi’s possible sequels is the comics’ reveal of where the Ten Rings of Power came from. These ancient artifacts were discovered by the Mandarin on a crashed spaceship belonging to the Makluans, where they were originally used as control elements for the ship. The Mandarin was able, over time, to unlock the powerful potential of the Ten Rings, but their rightful owners were the surviving Space Dragons – Fin Fang Foom among them – who had crashed in the ship. Fin Fang Foom chose to slumber beneath the Earth, while the rest of the dragons escaped attention by disguising themselves as humans. Over the centuries their dragon forms grew in size, until they were ready to take back the Ten Rings of Power and conquer Earth.
It was here that the Mandarin proved himself worthy of the Ten Rings. The dragons attempted to call the rings back to themselves, since they still shared a bond with them, but the Mandarin had gained enough mastery over them that he was able to resist, even as the strain of keeping the rings on his fingers caused him great pain. He still wasn’t able to defeat the dragons alone, however. Only when Iron Man grasped his hands and combined their powers were the dragons were destroyed. The blast also vaporized the Mandarin’s hands, but they regrew as scaled dragon claws that the supervillain used to reclaim the Ten Rings.
Fin Fang Foom In Marvel Comics
Fin Fang Foom actually predates Shang-Chi’s first appearance in Marvel Comics by more than a decade. The ancient dragon made his debut in Strange Tales #89. Published in 1961, the comic very much reflects the Red Scare that dominated American politics at the time, telling a story about how a plucky hero uses the wrath of Fin Fang Foom to fight against “Communist tyranny” and “the armed might of the red hordes.” The hero, Chan Liuchow, lives on the island of Formosa, which is facing the imminent threat of invasion by China’s Communist forces. Having unearthed an ancient manuscript detailing the whereabouts of a slumbering dragon called Fin Fang Foom, Chan makes his way to the beast’s lair and wakes Fin Fang Foom up using secret herbs. He then taunts the dragon and flees from it, leading it to the heart of the Chinese army and letting it rampage through the amassed forces. When the invasion force is destroyed, Chan leads Fin Fang Foom back to his cave and puts him back to sleep.
Though Fin Fang Foom made a few other appearances in the interim years, it wasn’t until the 1990s that he made his way into Marvel Comics’ main superhero canon and his backstory as a Space Dragon from Kakaranthara was established. Awoken from his ancient slumber by the Mandarin in Iron Man #261, Fin Fang Foom was at the center of “The Dragon Seed Saga,” in which the Mandarin attempted to use the mighty power of the dragon to establish a new dynasty of his own making in China, only to find that he’d bitten off more than he could chew. The wizard Chen Hsu, who had helped the Mandarin to find Fin Fang Foom’s lair, was actually another Space Dragon in disguise – and the “new dynasty” he’d promised wasn’t the one that the Mandarin had in mind. With Fin Fang Foom restored, Chen Hsu uses a psychic call to awaken eight other dragons across the world that had disguised themselves as humans, and reveals that his true plan all along was to make dragons the masters of Earth. Perhaps that will be the story Shang-Chi 2 seeks to tell.
More: Marvel’s New Phase 4 Slate: Every MCU Movie Release Date (2021-2023)
- Eternals (2021)Release date: Nov 05, 2021
- Spider-Man: No Way Home (2021)Release date: Dec 17, 2021
- Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness (2022)Release date: Mar 25, 2022
- Thor: Love and Thunder (2022)Release date: May 06, 2022
- Black Panther: Wakanda Forever/Black Panther 2 (2022)Release date: Jul 08, 2022
- The Marvels/Captain Marvel 2 (2022)Release date: Nov 11, 2022
- Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania (2023)Release date: Feb 17, 2023
- Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 (2023)Release date: May 05, 2023
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