My Long and Totally Unsolicited Shang-Chi/A:tLA Headcanon
Ok, so Katy is a young millennial who strikes me as a little bit of a nerd anyway, right? She would have 1000% grown up watching Avatar and LOVED it. She also strikes me as the type of person who wouldn’t have given two hoots about it being a “kids’ show“ and would have kept rewatching it all through her teens (as everyone should). So when she meets Shaun and finds out that he’s never seen it, she’s scandalized and makes plans to binge it with him over their fall break. They’ve known each other for like, a couple months at this point.
Shangqi had been willing to watch whatever this American cartoon was because Katy seemed to like it, but from the first time he hears Zuko say “I have to restore my honor,“ Shangqi is hooked. Katy had their marathon planned out so they could watch the series in a week, but Shaun just keeps asking to watch the next episode, and they manage to do it in three days. Katy’s psyched that he loves the show as much as she does, but there’s also something different about how he’s taking it in. He’s not just watching a cool story; he’s invested, and Katy’s not exactly sure how to deal with that. He hangs on Iroh’s every word and follows Zuko’s arc like his life depends on it.
Katy hasn’t seen Shaun show much of any emotion yet, so now she panics when they’re watching the season two finale and she looks over to see pure devastation in his face. The episode closes on Zuko’s betrayal and Aang’s injury, and Shaun hangs his head like his best friend just died. Katy leaps up from her place on the couch next to him and puts in the next DVD, quickly assuring him that it gets better, but she's still just as confused when he ends up crying almost every other episode for the whole third season.
They finish the show, and Shaun loves it. It becomes his favorite series of all time, to the point that it kind of weirds Katy out, but she gets used to it. Years later, a few months after they get back from their multi-dimensional monster-killing vacation, Katy crashes on her couch and queues up her favorite comfort show, and the realizations hit her like a brick to the face:
Fifteen-year-old Shangqi had been away from home barely a year when he watched this for the first time.
He had seen a kid the same age as him struggling to prove himself to his father by hunting someone down.
He had watched Zuko’s determination fizzle out into uncertainty when he realized he couldn’t go back home.
Shangqi had seen Zuko make the wrong choices, but had also seen that he still had a life to live and choices to make after that.
He had heard echoes of his mother in Iroh’s love and wisdom, and had seen Zuko taken back by someone he loved after an unspeakable betrayal.
And finally, Shangqi had seen Zuko reject his father’s plan and build his own legacy.
When Katy sees Shaun later that afternoon, she hugs him extra tight and asks if he wants to watch Avatar. As always, he says yes.
TL;DR: Shaun/Shangqi is Prince Fire Lord Zuko and the emotions HIT.
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a quick primer to chinese naming/addresses/(some) culture for shang-chi fans
first psa: apparently some ppl need to hear this but for the love of god if chinese characters don't introduce themselves with a single-character name, DO NOT SHORTEN THEIR NAME TO ONE CHARACTER ALONE. we never do that because chinese is a homophonous language!!
and also our names are made of characters that function as morphemes (words,, kinda) in their own right!! if i speak in chinese and call my sister by one character of her name only i could simply be using that character as a morpheme instead of addressing her. she wouldn't know i was addressing her.
(some chinese ppl do shorten our names to one character when in the west or when not speaking chinese, yes. for example, my name is ruiqian, but i introduce myself as rui (pronounced 'rey' btw. it's chinese, not japanese) because rui is less easy for non-chinese speakers to screw up than ruiqian (the 'q' sound is notoriously hard) and so it's just easier and less painful all around to introduce myself as rui.)
so pls, do not shorten ying li's name to li or shangqi's name to shang. that's not how it works. don’t do it. i lose ten years of my life every time this is done.
and yes, it's ying li and ying nan. i know some places have their names as jiang li and jiang nan (??) but the 'ying' character of their names only has one pronunciation. and also honestly why would you name your kid jiang nan when a whole place called jiangnan exists.
[edit: i initially said that ying li and ying nan are given names but apparently the subtitles my cinema had were wrong lol. the ying character is the same on the wiki, and since ying nan didn't give any other family name when introducing herself in chinese, i will assume this is their family name]
finally, a primer on how chinese names should be written (since these characters are from the mainland. other countries have different conventions):
Xu Shangqi ✔️
Xu ShangQi ❌
Xu Shang-Qi ❌
Xu Shang Qi ❌
i've written his name as shangqi here instead of shang-chi for two reasons:
shang-chi is the only name in wades-giles romanisation. not even his family name (xu) is in wades-giles, otherwise it would be written as hsu shang-chi (i'm pretty sure. honestly i stay far, far away from the madness of wades-giles because i don’t want to break down crying every time i use it)
i'm quite sure shangqi is the only character marvel took from the comics? since the other names are written in pinyin (aka the SUPERIOR option to wades-giles)
edit: also, as has been mentioned in the notes, my personal opinion on wades-giles is influenced by the fact that british diplomats created it, and my country was colonised by british people lol. taiwan still uses wades-giles! it’s just that the wades-giles system is outdated in the mainland, which is where the shang-chi characters come from. i didn’t mean to imply that wades-giles is outdated everywhere, and i apologise for that
[another edit: this is not the basics of chinese naming/addresses in general. it’s just intended for shang-chi fans, so it only takes into consideration the relationships in the movie. i’m seeing a few ppl tag this as the basics and it’s really not lol i promise you we have far more addresses than this.]
ALSO ALSO ALSO!! i've seen this a lot in c-media fandom but in chinese culture, we do not address our elders by name alone. yes, that includes our older siblings. unless you want xialing to be incredibly rude to shangqi, in which case, go ahead, she can definitely call him shangqi as a sign of her anger. otherwise, she should be calling him 哥 ge / older brother.
some other addresses that might be relevant:
爸 ba / dad | 父亲 fuqin / father
妈 ma / mum | 母亲 muqin / mother
妹 mei / younger sister
these three (single-character) addresses (+ 哥 ge / older brother) can be doubled to form 爸爸 baba, 妈妈 mama, 哥哥 gege, 妹妹 meimei for the same meaning, but 爸爸/妈妈哥哥 baba/mama/gege is generally more childish. except, and this is important, 哥哥 gege can also be used flirtatiously, or to 撒娇 sajiao / act cute (it’s a little bit like aegyo). so just be aware of how you use it
some more addresses:
老师 laoshi / teacher: but really it can just be a respectful term to call someone older you respect
小姨 xiaoyi / youngest maternal aunt: what yingnan calls herself when introducing herself to shangqi and xialing
婆婆 popo / grandmother: also a respectful term for an elderly lady
外婆 waipo / maternal grandmother: iirc this is what shangqi calls katy's grandma?
阿姨 ayi / aunt: also a respectful term for an older woman, or for an adult family friend. shangqi would call katy's mum [surname]-ayi, since he's katy's best friend
chinese women generally don't change their names after marriage. our family is incredibly important to us (hence we place our family name before our given name, to signify that our family and ancestors come before the self) and so giving up your family name is generally only done in drastic circumstances (you need to change your name to flee from smth, etc)
however, let’s say that shangqi for some reason never finds out what katy’s mum’s family name is. he would just call her chen-ayi then, since chen is katy’s family name
now, let’s say the ten rings organisation is a martial sect (because it sure looks like one to me!!). here are some more addresses you can use:
师父 shifu / teacher-father: god this is hard to translate, but basically it stems from the phrase 一日为师，终身为父 / one day of being their teacher makes you their father for life. wenwu's disciples would call him this
师母 shimu / teacher-mother: same logic. this is what xialing’s disciples would call her
yet another edit jfc: i just realised some ppl might actually translate shifu and shimu as what i wrote above. i translated it that way to get the significance across lol, pls just use "master"
师哥 shige | 师兄 shixiong / elder martial brother: this is what wenwu’s disciples would call shangqi
the difference is that shixiong can be used for any male disciple in the same generation who started training earlier than you, while shige can only be used for your shifu’s son, or a male disciple trained by your shifu
the same generation basically means: anyone trained by your shifu or his martial siblings. it’s not relevant for wenwu, but it would be if shangqi decides to return to the ten rings organisation and take on disciples of his own
师姐 shijie / elder martial sister: for disciples who came into wenwu’s sect before xialing started her training (and also before she takes control of the ten rings organisation)
师妹 shimei / younger martial sister: for disciples who came into wenwu’s sect after xialing started her training (likewise, also before she takes control of the ten rings organisation)
even though wenwu didn’t train xialing, she’s still his daughter, hence his disciples would refer to her as shijie/shimei
宗主 zongzhu / sect/clan leader | 掌门 zhangmen / sect leader: this is what disciples would call wenwu when he’s the head, and xialing when she takes over after
师伯 shibo / elder martial uncle: this is what xialing’s disciples would call shangqi
god okay i think i’m done. this post is way too fucking long but i sincerely hope this helps
if you’ve read this far and appreciated my work, please consider supporting me on ko-fi! <3
[edit: ps, if you have any questions, please check the notes before asking. chances are that your questions have already been answered.]
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