Why Does the New Shang-Chi Trailer Feature an Incredible Hulk Villain?

The new trailer for Marvel's Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings features a surprise appearance from The Incredible Hulk villain Abomination!

Simu Liu in Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings.
Photo: Marvel Studios

Marvel’s Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings is this particular writer’s most anticipated MCU project of the moment. With the Ten Rings having been teased since the very first Iron Man movie, and a serious dearth of martial arts action in the MCU since the demise of their Netflix TV shows, Shang-Chi is looking like an essential entry in the sprawling mega-franchise.

The latest trailer does nothing to dispel that notion. Giving us a slightly greater understanding of the literal power of the “ten rings” themselves, more of Tony Leung’s terrific-looking reinterpretation of the difficult Mandarin, and more of star Simu Liu as the title character kicking all kinds of ass, Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings feels both perfectly at home in the MCU and very different than what we’ve seen before. But there’s an Incredible Hulk flavored surprise in here, too…

Watch the trailer here if you haven’t seen it yet…

Cool, right? Some cool fight choreography, colorful cinematography, the Abomination…wait, holy moley, is that Abomination from The Incredible Hulk movie?

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Yes. Yes it is. The subtitles confirm that the “roar” in question during that cage fighting sequence comes from a character identified as Abomination.

For most folks, The Incredible Hulk is something of a forgotten Marvel Studios entry. Coming very early in MCU Phase 1, it was the first film to really lean into the potential interconnectivity of the budding cinematic universe concept. At the time, none of us ever truly expected that to evolve into what it eventually did, and most comics fans were just happy that this stuff was being acknowledged at all. And while Abomination is a traditional Hulk villain and a natural choice for the villain of the movie, he was also an instrumental early piece of Marvel’s universe building.

Y’see, Abomination wasn’t just a baddie for Hulk to smash here. He was a crucial tie to the existence of Captain America in the MCU. Captain Emil Blonsky (Tim Roth) was a test subject for an experimental version of the super soldier serum, which the U.S. government had been trying to recreate since the loss of Steve Rogers during World War II. This bootleg super soldier serum had some unexpected effects when Blonsky mixed it with some of Bruce Banner’s gamma-irradiated blood, and Blonsky became a gamma-monstrosity known as Abomination.

We haven’t really heard much from Abomination in the MCU since Hulk beat his green ass on the streets of Harlem, although Blonsky was mentioned on Agents of SHIELD a couple of times but never appeared. The fact that Marvel Studios needs to be somewhat judicious in its deployment of Hulk and related characters because they still share the rights with Universal Pictures may also have something to do with that (this is why there haven’t been any Hulk solo movies since The Incredible Hulk).

The last we heard, Abomination was still locked in a cryo-cell, but he clearly not only escaped, but has evolved in some fashion. Check him out!

The Abomination in Marvel's Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings trailer

Note the fins/ears on the side of his head, which make him look much more like his comics counterpart…

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Marvel Comics The Abomination

These weren’t there in the original design from The Incredible Hulk. Either Blonsky found a way to upgrade himself, or the gamma/super soldier serum combo in his blood has continued to evolve him.

Check out the difference from his original look!

Eli Roth as Abomination in Marvel's The Incredible Hulk movie

As for why Shang-Chi is fighting Abomination/why Abomination has resorted to cage fighting, that’s a seed that was planted in The Incredible Hulk, as well. A key reason Blonsky volunteered to take the experimental serum and then took things a step too far is that he never wanted to accept that he would eventually have to stop fighting. There aren’t all that many opportunities for an 8-foot tall gamma-irradiated Abomination, so cage fighting for money seems like as good an idea as any!

We’ll find out more when Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings opens on Sep. 3.