It's nice to know that Marvel Studios continues to find a use for the Hulk characters even when Universal continues to sit on them with their solo rights. We saw William Hurt's General Thunderbolt Ross play a major part in the later Avengers films and also in the upcoming Black Widow. Mark Ruffalo remained a staple in all the Avengers films since taking over the role from Edward Norton in his one-off in 2008. Now, we see the return of Tim Roth's Abomination sooner than expected as Marvel Studios president Kevin Feige confirmed all our collective double-takes in an interview with Rotten Tomatoes as Abomination was featured fighting Wong (Benedict Wong) at an arena in the upcoming Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings in the film's first official trailer.
While it was previously confirmed that Ruffalo and Roth would return in the upcoming Disney+ series She-Hulk, this is the first time the villain is seen with an updated look since the 2008 film. Roth's Emil Blonsky became Abomination when he forced Dr. Samuel Sterns (Tim Blake Nelson) to try to recreate the experiment that made Banner (Norton) into the Hulk. "Yes, we just recently released the final trailer for Shang-Chi," said Feige. "Some fans said, 'This looks like a character they hadn't seen in many years named The Abomination, fighting a character that looks like Wong. And I can say that the reason it looks like that is because that is Abomination fighting Wong."
Feige's optimism in helping to make Abomination's return happen perhaps gives hope that Liv Tyler's Betty Ross and Nelson's Sterns might come back as well. Sterns was last left infected with Banner's irradiated blood when some went into a gash on his head as comic fans are aware he's Leader. "[It's] a fun thing to have a character that we haven't had on screen in over a decade show up again in the MCU," Feige said. "And to see fans on that little tag of the trailer recognize that and embrace that is great fun." With Shang-Chi, Feige explained how they're able to go back into the Iron Man lore given the history of the Mandarin. The 2013 Iron Man 3 originally advertised Ben Kingsley as the character before it was revealed he was an actor posing as the mouthpiece for the film's actual villain, Guy Pearce's Aldrich Killian. "That's what's fun about the MCU at this stage," he said. "We can do something like Shang-Chi, introducing a brand new hero into the MCU and into the world at large. But that subtitle, The Legend of the Ten Rings, actually connects it back to the very beginning of the MCU, the Ten Rings being the organization that kidnapped Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr) at the very beginning of Iron Man (2008). And that organization was inspired by a character called the Mandarin in the comics."
Feige broke down how the twist happened. "And going back to Iron Man: We've been talking about that when we do bring this character to the screen, [we] only wanted to do it when we felt we could do it supreme justice and really showcase the complexity of this character, which frankly we couldn't do in an Iron Man movie because an Iron Man movie is about Iron Man; an Iron Man movie is about Tony Stark. So [Iron Man 3 director] Shane Black, in his film and his script that he co-wrote, came up with this fun twist that we love to this day, and it turned out to be Trevor Slattery. Just because that version wasn't real didn't mean there's not a leader of the Ten Rings organization, and that is who we meet for the first time in Shang-Chi."
The bait-and-switch pave the way for the real Mandarin to emerge. "Tony Leung playing Shang-Chi's father and the leader of the Ten Rings is another pinch-yourself, dream-come-true moment because he's one of the best actors of our time and we're very excited to have him introduced to, I hope, a whole new fan base who might not be aware of his spectacular work that he's done." Directed by Daniel Destin Cretton, Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings, which also stars Awkwafina, Michelle Yeoh, Florian Munteanu, Fala Chen, and Ronny Chieng, comes to theaters on September 3.