As we have seen, the main villain of Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings is the leader of the Ten Rings himself, Mandarin….. But in the movie, he was teamed up with another historical Marvel supervillain, the demonic father of Shan-Chi: Zheng Zi. In the comics, he was originally known as Fu Manchu (yes, Fu Manchu Sax Rohmer), but after Marvel Comics lost the rights to the character, it was decided that this name was just a pseudonym and that his real name was Zheng Zi, just like the name he goes by in the movie, Wenwu. Given the racial implications of the original character, who was portrayed as a stereotypical Chinese drug lord, an amalgamation with Mandarin seems like a good choice, especially considering how similar the two characters are… Now that Fu Manchu is no longer a clone of the Ming Emperor, he has evolved as a character. While we wait to see what Tony Leung Chiu Wai does with the character, let’s talk about Dr. Devil himself.
Born in the Chinese province of Honan, probably in the 18th century. In the 16th century, Zheng Zu was a descendant of the legendary conqueror Shak Harn, who had achieved immortality through the elixir of life. He and his brother Zheng Yi studied in Racha, a monastery in Tibet. There they were taught martial arts, science, sorcery, history, everything they needed to live and serve their country: When they were deemed ready, they were released to be the protectors of the weak. Zi was highly intelligent but reckless, while his brother Yi, an epicurean, had a calming effect on him. The two brothers found five disciples whom they aptly named Deadly Warriors, and together with them, founded the Association of Five Weapons for the Protection of China. But thanks to the spells they learned from Racha and the elixir of their ancestors, the Zheng brothers were able to extend their lifespan and outlived their disciples. At the time, they saved Tianjin Prefecture from the dragon Fin Fang Fuma and made an alliance with other powerful wizards, including the Ancient One, who offered them the Dragon’s Eyes, an artifact that could grant them immortality… on the condition of human sacrifice. In the next century, the Second Opium War broke out and Baron Harkness, fighting for the British Empire, summoned Dormammu and his scattered men: The Demon defeated the Mortal Warriors, and even Zheng Yi was seriously injured. Zheng Zi, wanting to save his brother, used the Dragon Eyes to restore his health and youth. But Yi did not want to rule alone and reversed fate by sacrificing himself to grant his brother immortality. Unfortunately, without Yi, Jiu was no longer a deterrent : Over the decades he became increasingly ruthless and heartless, until he himself transformed the Society of Five Arms into a criminal empire bent on world domination. At the turn of the century, his myth grew to the point where it was believed that he had killed Zheng Yi because of his weakness and absorbed his life force to prolong his life.
As his legend spread across the land, Zheng Zi hid the secret of the Dragon Eyes and spread the rumor that his immortality was only due to the elixir of his ancestors. During this period he conquered, absorbed and subjugated several secret societies under his command: The Golden Dawn Order, the Ci-Fan Heavenly Order, the Hai-Dai Heavenly Order, all knelt before him and called him Master. When he was strong enough, he decided to take revenge on the British Empire by hitting them with opium, the drug they used to destroy his company : Known in the West as Fu Manchu, he became the most feared criminal in Europe, spreading his influence wherever his drugs went. As his empire grew, he recruited several children from around the world to have a supply of immortality, for he had to absorb the life force of his kinsmen from time to time to keep himself alive. Some of the most promising children he left for himself: one of them was his daughter Fah Lo Sui, whom he raised with as much cunning and arrogance as himself. He then chose the perfect genetic partner with an American woman and had two children, Shang-Chi and Zheng Shi-Hua. He did not keep them together for long, for he soon sent Shi-Hua to his fortress in Russia, the House of the Deadly Hammer, where she could be trained into the perfect weapon he desired; Shang-Chi, on the other hand, remained at the House of the Deadly Hand in Hunan to personally observe her training. He also chose other kids to coach: Esme was sent to the House of the Deadly Dagger in France, Takeshi to the House of the Deadly Sword in Japan, and another son to the House of the Deadly Staff in the United Kingdom. If all his children were properly trained, he would have five formidable living weapons at his disposal, remarkable implements he could master to dominate the entire planet ….. and beyond.
Zheng Zi is an impressive man, a genius with hundreds of years of knowledge and experience under his belt….. but he is also a ruthless criminal, an evil megalomaniac bent on imposing his enlightened rule over the entire world and treating everyone, including his children, as pawns in a grand game of death and deceit to achieve his goals. As Fu Manchu, he is one of the greatest criminal masterminds in history, an immortal scientist, inventor, tactician, magician and martial artist who has mastered every discipline known to mankind and exerts a secret and powerful influence over various world powers; a hypnotist and master of disguise, he rarely plays his games in the first person, often maneuvering agents from behind curtains or even hidden in plain sight to manipulate his opponents. Zheng Zi, one of the most dangerous men in the world, has allowed himself to be corrupted by power and become a monster, an ancient evil that has always lurked in the wings of human history.
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