After a quiet 2020, thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic, the year 2021 has seen Marvel and Disney finally get the MCU back on track.
Following Avengers: Endgame, much of what we’ve seen for the new Marvel Cinematic Universe landscape, thus far, comes to us via the small screen: WandaVision, The Falcon and the Winter Soldier, and Loki are all Disney+ shows which continue where Endgame left off.
And while we’ll be seeing a new MCU film, in the form of Black Widow, on July 9, 2021, in theaters, that story is set prior to the events of Avengers: Endgame. However, we do have an MCU film coming this September, which sets up a brand new character who will go on to join the ongoing Avengers narrative, and — importantly — is the MCU’s first-ever Chinese lead: Simu Liu as Shang-Chi in Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings.
The teaser trailer dropped on April 19, which gave us our first look of Shang-Chi in action. As exciting as it is to see our newest MCU hero, though, fans are also extremely curious about the new villains, particularly the masked figure known as Death Dealer.
Let’s talk about what there is to know about the MCU Death Dealer, so far, and what we know about his original comic book counterpart.
The original Death Dealer has a brief, violent story
In the comics, Death Dealer is an MI6 agent named Li Ching-Lin — though he is actually a double agent, who works for Fu Manchu. It’s only after Shang-Chi is enlisted by MI6 director Fah Lo Suee to get rid of Ching-Lin, in fact, that Ching-Lin escapes, returns to work for Fu Manchu (Shang-Chi’s father, in the source material), and is given the title of “Death Dealer.”
Death Dealer actually has a relatively short run in Marvel Comics, first appearing in Master of Kung Fu #115 in August 1982, and making his final appearance in Master of Kung Fu #118 only a few issues later. During that time, Shang-Chi and Death Dealer face off against each other multiple times, during which Death Dealer uses everything available to him — including grenades — to defeat Shang-Chi.
Eventually, though, Shang-Chi faces off in a final battle against Death Dealer at Fu Manchu’s castle, where the villain ends up burning to death.
There will be no Fu Manchu in Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings: Instead, Shang-Chi’s father will be Wenwu, the long-awaited MCU version of the Mandarin, who will serve as lead villain, and the master for Death Dealer.
This version of Shang-Chi and Death Dealer will likely have a much more intense relationship than in the comics, as well, since they’ve known each other since the protagonist was a child.
Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings hits theaters on September 3, 2021.