Although the Mandarin is best-known for being Iron Man’s archenemy, he is also a very important enemy of another one of Marvel’s superheroes, albeit one that is not as popular as Iron Man. Shang-Chi is a very interesting character and a martial arts expert that has shyly entered the spotlight in recent months and that is why we, at Fiction Horizon, have decided to see whether Shang-Chi is stronger than the Mandarin. Enjoy!
Despite being the hero and Marvel’s most skilled martial artist, Shang-Chi simply cannot defeat the Mandarin. The Mandarin is on a similar level when their fighting skills are concerned, but is more powerful in every other aspect, which is why we think that he would be the winner.
Our comparison is going to be divided into three sections. The first is going to bring an overview of the two characters, after which we are going to compare their powers, including their signature weapons. Finally, we’re going to bring you a detailed analysis of the two characters to determine which one would win in a direct clash.
The Mandarin and his powers
The Mandarin is a supervillain appearing in stories published by Marvel Comics. He was created by writer Stan Lee and artist Don Heck and first appeared in the Tales of Suspense #50 comic book, back in 1964. The Mandarin is described as a genius-level scientist and an extremely gifted martial artist. He is primarily known as an enemy of Iron Man.
However, Mandarin’s main sources of power are ten Power Rings which he adapted from alien technology he found in a crashed spacecraft. Each ring has a different power (see below) and is worn on a specific finger. According to the story he told Iron Man and all the other characters that had the pleasure of hearing his origin story, the man named the Mandarin is a former Chinese magistrate from Shanghai.
He was depicted as the son of an English aristocrat and a rich Chinese woman before the communist revolution, who claimed to be a descendant of Genghis Khan. Thus, the Mandarin always claimed to be a descendant of the founder of Mongolian civilization.
The Mandarin’s parents died soon after the revolution and their son was taken in by his paternal aunt, an alcoholic woman and bitter with everyone, including her nephew.
During his youth, the Mandarin quickly squandered the family fortune he had inherited from his father. When he reached adulthood, he was expelled by the government because he could no longer pay the taxes linked to his ancestral home.
But, as it turned out, the character that would later become the Mandarin was, in fact, from the village of Habuquan in Inner Mongolia and is the son of an English prostitute addicted to opium, who died of an overdose.
He began in crime as the leader of the local underworld; it was at this time that he began to call himself the “Mandarin”. One day, in the hope of finding a way to achieve the greatness he was looking for, he traveled to the “Valley of the Spirits”, a forbidden valley where no one dared go.
There, he discovered the wreckage of an alien spaceship that had crashed there millennia and that came from the planet Maklu IV, whose inhabitants, the Makluans, looked like Chinese dragons. Studying the technology of the ship, he discovered 10 rings, which apparently served to supply the ship with energy.
Equipped with these rings and with his new knowledge, he became a conqueror, quickly so powerful that not even the Chinese army could challenge him. His ambitions quickly extended to world domination.
Shang-Chi and his powers
Shang-Chi, also known as the Master of Kung Fu, is a superhero appearing in stories published by Marvel Comics. Created by writer Steve Englehart and artists Al Milgrom and Jim Starlin, the fictional character first appeared in the Special Marvel Edition #15 comic book in 1973.
Shang-Chi was born in the Hunan province of China. He is the son of Fu Manchu, an international criminal. From an early age, he was trained in Chinese martial arts in order to, when he comes of age, assassinate an enemy of his father but, discovering that his progenitor is a powerful criminal, he rebels against his destiny.
He fights Midnight Sun and allies himself with Black Jack Tarr, with whom he confronts his father’s organization. Later, he becomes a secret agent working for MI-6, the United Kingdom’s intelligence service, during which he travels to New York and meets the costumed hero Spider-Man.
He later faces off against his own sister, Fah Lo Suee, then Razor Fist and the duo Mordillo and Brynocki. He then befriends the Cat (Shen Kuei) and Iron Fist (Danny Rand), with whom he shares a passion for martial arts. He also confronts Shockwave before leaving MI-6.
Opting for an independent life, he becomes an adventurer. But this job still brings him closer to the world of superheroes; he becomes the ally of the Thing. He fights HYDRA, then Zaran, Boomerang, etc. He soon reunites with his friends Sir Denis Nayland Smith, Tarr, Clive Reston, and his childhood sweetheart Leiko Wu. Together, they form “Freelance Restorations Limited”, a secret agency based in Scotland.
It was during this period that he faced his father for the last time in a duel to the death, from which he emerged victorious. A few years later, he left the organization and went back to China as a simple fisherman.
Shang-Chi made his comeback a few years later, in the Heroes for Hire series. There, he begins a relationship with Maria Vasquez (Tarantula). He’s the one who kills his teammate Humbug, controlled by an insectoid race that escaped from the Hulk’s ship upon his return to Earth.
Traumatized by this cold-blooded murder, he leaves the team. Shang-Chi, still linked to the British secret service, reluctantly helps Peter Wisdom to dismantle a criminal network of mystical origin.
Is the Mandarin Shang-Chi’s father?
Before we continue with the comparison, we’d like to answer one small question that has been puzzling the comic book community, and that is whether the Mandarin is Shang-Chi’s father or not. The confusion stems from the fact that a trailer for Marvel’s Shang-Chi movie confirmed that the Mandarin was, in fact, the titular hero’s father. This, though, has absolutely no basis when the comics are concerned, as Shang-Chi’s real father is, actually, the supervillain Fu Manchu.
So, no, the Mandarin is not actually Shang-Chi’s father, but Marvel changed this fact so that they would not have to deal with the controversial Fu Manchu character, who has been criticized as being overly stereotypical on several occasions.
Comparing the powers of Mandarin and Shang-Chi
Our second section will contain a comparison of the two characters’ powers. It won’t be a direct comparison as much as a listing of their powers abilities, which is going to serve as a basis for our analysis in section three of our article. Now, let us begin.
The Mandarin is one of the greatest scientists on Earth, not only because he manages to master Makluana science very well, but because he also manages to make great discoveries based on alien science. Although the Mandarin has no natural powers himself, he is an excellent athlete and has fearsome skills in martial arts and sword handling.
Due to the constant training, the parts of the body that he uses as weapons, especially his hands, are covered with big, hard calluses. Without outside help, he can break a log of wood, brick, and light iron with one blow of his hands. When he protects himself with a subtle but intense protective force field, he may be able to block even Iron Man’s magnetic beam and deeply scratch his early armor with the blows of his hands.
The Mandarin’s main weapons are the ten rings he wears on his fingers. Their functioning cannot be explained by contemporary science, but it is known that they are able to act as a source of energy for the very powerful engines of an Axonn-Kar spaceship.
The Mandarin has managed to convert the rings so that he can control them with his mind. Below is a list of the powers of the rings associated with the finger they are worn on:
- Left little finger (Ice Blast/”Zero”) – generates cold and can create and manipulate ice;
- Left ring finger (Mento-Intensifier/”The Liar”) – creates perfect illusions;
- Left middle finger (Electro-Blast/”Lightning”) – absorbs electrostatic energy on a planetary scale and can redirect it into very powerful electrical discharges;
- Left index finger (Flame Blast/”Incandescence”) – contains the miniaturized core of a star and can generate flames and solar flares;
- Left thumb (White Light/”Daimonic”) – increases the mental abilities of its bearer to allow it to subdue the will of others;
- Right thumb (Matter Rearranger/”Remaker”) – manipulates matter at the subatomic level;
- Right index finger (Impact Beam/”Influence”) – increases its wearer’s physical abilities such as strength and stamina;
- Middle right finger (Vortex Beam/”Spin”) – expands time around its wearer allowing it to move at very high speeds compared to normal space;
- Right ring finger (Disintegration Beam/”Spectral”) – folds the environment around its owner making it invisible. He can also fire a powerful disintegrating beam that recharges in twenty minutes;
- Right little finger (Black Light/”Nightbringer”) – can create and manipulate objects made of dark energy .
Over the years, the Mandarin establishes a strong psychological bond with his rings, which had strengthened especially during the period in which his soul had dwelt in them. A strange consequence is that no one can use the rings other than the Chinese criminal.
Now the Mandarin can command his rings and be able to see what happens around them even from great distances. Continued exposure to alien rings made his hands greenish and scaly.
Shang-Chi is an expert in Chinese martial arts and possesses a high skill in hand-to-hand combat, even if he is not at the level of Iron Fist. His physical abilities are at the pinnacle of human perfection and he is defined by some as one of the greatest bare-handed fighters and kung-fu experts alive.
Much of his physical abilities seem to come from his mastery of chi (氣), which often allows him to overcome the physical limitations of a normal athlete. His reflexes are so developed that he can even dodge bullets from machine guns and sniper rifles, as well as deflect pistol shots with his bracelets.
He is also well versed in espionage, by virtue of the time spent working with MI6. He can sense the presence of an individual only by sensing his chi. Later, he will learn the power of Kitty Pryde’s intangibility and develop a technique that will allow him to turn his opponents into stone. Furthermore, he can hit his opponent in so-called “pressure points” that allow him to paralyze, or even kill them.
Shang-Chi is also highly trained in the arts of concentration and meditation and is an expert in the use of sidearms such as swords, kali sticks, nunchaku, sai, and shuriken. Among other things, Tony Stark gave him bracelets that allowed him to better channel his chi, thus increasing his strength.
Finally, since both are Marvel characters, we can consult their official numbers, as per the Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe A-Z (2010):
Well, the comparison we did in this section has revealed to us that Mandarin seems to be the stronger among the two. In the following section, we are going to see whether that is true or not. Let us continue.
Who would win: Mandarin or Shang-Chi?
And now for the most important and interesting section of our article – the analysis. Here, we are going to use what we have found out about these two characters and analyze how all these facts would (or would not) help them in a fight against each other. Although they both come from the same cultural background, the Mandarin and Shang-Chi are very different characters and that makes this analysis so intriguing. Now that we’ve cleared things up a bit, let us continue with the analysis.
Shang-Chi is said to be the best martial artist in the Marvel Universe and one of its best fighters in general. He is a master of kung fu and is truly a remarkable fighter, but he has also mastered the chi, which gave him additional abilities. On the other hand, we have Mandarin, a guy who is almost an equally skilled fighter, but thanks to the Ten Rings, he has even more powers, most of which are magical.
We’d gladly write more about this, bring you some examples and whatnot, but whenever Shang-Chi would defeat Mandarin, you can be sure that it is due to him being the hero, as heroes have to win. Shang-Chi might be a better fighter than the Mandarin, but only slightly, while the villain triumphs in all other aspects. Literally. There is absolutely no category in which Shang-Chi overpowers the Mandarin, even when the latter is not at the height of his powers.
This, of course, brings us to the inevitable conclusion that the Mandarin would win this fight and if the comic books ever portray it differently, you now know that it is simply because the Mandarin is a villain and not a hero; despite being a hero, Shang-Chi simply isn’t powerful enough to defeat the Mandarin.
And that’s it for today. We hope you had fun reading this and that we have given you all the information you were looking for. See you next time and don’t forget to follow us!