Why some ‘Shang-Chi’ viewers thought there were Pokémon in the movie

Marvel president says people thought the nine-tailed fox was ninetails

To the fans hoping for a Pokémon and Marvel crossover, Marvel Studios President Kevin Feige shut down such wishful thinking in an interview on Monday.

Warning: Minor spoilers ahead. 

Vulpine cameo: When early moviegoers sat down to view “Shang-Chi,” some thought Marvel threw Pokémon into the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU).

  • Feige told Collider that he was surprised to learn that in early screenings, when the secluded and ancient village of Ta Lo was revealed, viewers thought the fire-type Ninetales was making a special cameo. Especially when it comes to looks, Ninetales’ shiny form or its Alolan variation, which sport more of a white-toned fur to its standard yellow, match those of the foxes in the village even more.
“Nine tails fox, mythical Chinese creature, from the Qing edition of the Shanhaijing.” Image via Wikimedia Commons.
  • “I don’t know if this has been online, but it was in some of the early screenings, a lot of the reference points,” he said. “Some people think there are a couple of Pokémon characters in there, they’re not Pokémon characters, but they are inspired by similar things, I guess, which took me by surprise.
  • Ta Lo is home to mythical beasts scattered throughout Chinese mythology, including giant guardian lions (or foo dogs), phoenixes, one marvelously giant dragon, what Trevor calls “weird” horses (“Qilin,” chimera unicorns with deer, ox, tiger, or horse bodies clad in fish scales or flames), Dijiang or Hundun (faceless chaos dog) and nine-tailed foxes, which may be descended from Huli Jing or fox spirits.

An icon through the ages: Huli Jing or Jiuwei hu, and more broadly speaking, the concept of nine-tailed foxes, are prominent mythological creatures in most East Asian cultures and are thought to be mischievous tricksters, shapeshifters, seducers and powerful entities with thousand-year lifespans.

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  • With at least a 2,000-year history dating between the 4th and 1st century B.C., Huli Jing and nine-tailed foxes appeared in the Chinese text “Shan Hai Jing” or the “Classic of Mountains and Seas,” which described them as both malevolent creatures who ate men and as auspicious signs in peace, according to Business Insider.
  • In Japanese mythos, nine-tailed foxes are “Kitsune;” in Vietnamese, they’re “Hồ Tinh;” in Korean, “Gumiho.” These foxes were further popularized by anime like “Naruto” and its portrayal of the Kyuubi and K-dramas like “My Girlfriend is a Gumiho” (2010).
  • The Ninetales Pokémon, having drawn inspiration from its mythical predecessors, is believed to be highly intelligent, to live for 1,000 years and that supernatural powers are contained within its tails. They are also described as “very vengeful,” and “Grabbing one of its many tails could result in a 1000-year curse,” according to its Pokédex entries from Bulbapedia.

Featured Image via Marvel Entertainment (left), Kalos Best (right)

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