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Why Shang-Chi Ran Away As A Child (Despite Completing His Mission)

In Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings, Shang-Chi (Simu Liu) runs away from home as a child after completing the mission assigned to him by his father — hinting at the young man's true character and motivations. After the mission, Shang-Chi gave up everything he learned in training to live a normal and quiet life in America. He did so for one simple reason — he took after his mother, not his father.

Shang-Chi heavily focuses on the conflict between the hero and his father. Thanks to the immortal power given to him by the ten rings, Shang-Chi's father Xu Wenwu (Tony Chiu-Wai Leung) has led the terrorist group named for his rings. But after he meets and falls in love with Shang-Chi's mother Ying Li, he gives up the power. He buries the darkness within him in order to start a family; however, when Ying Li is tragically killed, he lets that darkness back out in full force.

Related: Why Shang-Chi and Katy's Relationship Was Kept Platonic

Wenwu trained Shang-Chi to become a cold-hearted killer, training the young man to avenge his mother's death. When the time came, he fulfilled his father's wishes; however, the act filled him with shame. Shang-Chi's remorse demonstrates that he doesn't share Wenwu's dark and violent impulses. Instead, he has his mother's loving heart, which is what makes him a true hero.

While Ying-Li was a skilled fighter, she had a gentle spirit. When Shang-Chi, his best friend Katy (Awkwafina), and sister Xialing make it to the mother's mythical village of Ta Lo. They see first hand that, while they are still deadly fighters, the people of Ta Lo use those skills to defend the place that they love — a place that they feel a deep, spiritual connection to. Wenwu, on the other hand, fights to exude his power over other people and places. His power comes from an unnatural source, while the people of Ta Lo's collective power comes from their hearts. Shang-Chi took after his mother, meaning he could never stay with his father in her absence.

Simply put, Wenwu was raising Shang-Chi to be something he was not. Shang-Chi loved spending time with his family when his mother was alive, but training night and day to be a killer just wasn't the same. So he found the perfect opportunity to escape and start a new life somewhere else. Shang-Chi needed to forget his upbringing because fighting isn't about gaining something for him. Like the people of Ta Lo, fighting is about defending who or what you love. He only returned home years later in Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings because he believed he needed to defend his sister. His decision to run away from home is a true testament to what a hero Shang-Chi really is.

More: Is Shang-Chi's Father The Real Mandarin? It's Complicated

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