How Tai Lung Could Return (And What Makes Him Different) in Kung Fu Panda 4



  • Tai Lung’s surprising return in Kung Fu Panda 4 after being exiled to the Spirit Realm adds intrigue to the storyline.
  • The new villain, Chameleon, absorbs the warrior’s Chi and transforms into them, making the fourth film exciting and original.
  • The absence of the Furious Five in the Kung Fu Panda 4 trailer may be compensated by Tai Lung’s reappearance, adding a darker turn to the story and promising fantastic fight sequences.

Kung Fu Panda is one of the most popular and successful animated franchises in the world, with each film conveying a powerful message about the core values of warriorhood while also providing boundless amusement. While not every movie in the Kung Fu Panda franchise is flawless, DreamWorks Animation consistently delivers beautiful animation and visuals.

It’s been almost eight years since the release of Kung Fu Panda 3, and the sequel, Kung Fu Panda 4, is finally here, set to hit theaters on Mar. 8, 2024. Having said that, there is a lot to speculate about, whether it’s about the new adversary, the Chameleon, or Tai Lung, the iconic villain who elevated the original film to new heights. With him returning for the fourth movie, it has become the talk of the town despite its other flaws. Here’s how Tai Lung could return in Kung Fu Panda 4, why he’s one of the best villains in the franchise, and how his character could change in the fourth film.

What Makes Tai Lung’s Return Possible in Kung Fu Panda 4?

Kung Fu Panda 4
Kung Fu Panda 4

Release Date
March 8, 2024

Mike Mitchell , Stephanie Stine

Before we get into Tai Lung’s possible role in Kung Fu Panda 4, which saw a long delay before its release, let’s discuss how the fan-favorite villain is returning to the franchise after sixteen years. There is a lot of intrigue around his surprising return in the fourth film, which once again takes shape in the Spirit Realm, where he was exiled by Po using the Wuxi Finger Hold in the first film.

If you remember Kai from Kung Fu Panda 3, who turned all the martial masters into Jade Zombies (Jombies), he is the reason for Tai Lung’s reappearance. Tai Lung was among the several victims from whom Kai stole Chi, but for some reason, he never used the Jade Pendant in which Tai Lung was trapped, possibly because he was afraid that Tai Lung would free himself from restraint, just as he was cautious about using Master Oogway despite being cornered by Po in the Spirit Realm.

As a result of Kai’s defeat at the hands of Po, all the masters he had imprisoned, including Tai Lung, were set free. While he will not return as his original self, we will be introduced to a new villain named Chameleon, who, as the name implies, absorbs the said warrior’s Chi and turns herself into them. So, while Tai Lung may not be the primary antagonist in the fourth film, he will, hopefully, play a significant role.

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The Appeal of DreamWorks Animation Villains

The Kung Fu Panda franchise has some of the best movies from DreamWorks Animation, a company that is notable for featuring phenomenal villains who challenge the main protagonist’s ideals and influence the viewer in ways no one else can. Over the years, we were introduced to the Kung Fu Panda film, which featured Tai Lung as the main antagonist, followed by Lord Shen, who believes his own family has betrayed him and decides to conquer China, even if it means destroying everything in the process; and finally, Kai, an immortal warrior with the power equivalent to Master Oogway.

Even though the fourth film appears to have underplayed Po’s journey by turning him back into a comical character, despite his massive character growth in the previous films, DreamWorks once again delivers a compelling villain in the form of Tai Lung (Chameleon). The Chameleon is quite similar to Kai, except that instead of storing others’ Chi in Jade Pendants, she absorbs and shape-shifts into them, acquiring both appearances and powers in the process. In a certain way, fans will see a new version of Tai Lung in Kung Fu Panda 4, making it both original and exciting.

Tai Lung Can Make Up for the Absence of Furious Five

Despite Po stealing the spotlight in every film with an epic comeback, whether it’s learning about inner peace or discovering his true self in the face of looming disaster, the Furious Five, comprised of Tigress, Monkey, Viper, Crane, and Mantis, has always played an integral part. However, the Kung Fu Panda 4 trailer does not include any of the characters, instead it focuses entirely on the Chameleon and Po, with an inkling of the franchise’s trademark humor.

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So, clearly, the fourth film may be moving away from these prominent characters, albeit it might be intentional to develop Po’s character from a different perspective. So, if Kung Fu Panda 4 somehow neglects the Furious Five, it would lose a lot of its charm, but Tai Lung’s reappearance may fix that. Instead of being propelled forward by the power of friendship and delightful comedy, the film may take a darker turn, especially given the Chameleon’s brutality, hopefully leading to some fantastic fight sequences in Kung Fu Panda 4

Tai Lung is undoubtedly one of the best villains in the Kung Fu Panda franchise, and it’s unclear how strong he grew after being imprisoned in the Spirit Realm, so it’ll be interesting to see what surprises the creators have in store for fans who have waited eight years for the sequel. Kung Fu Panda 4 will be released theatrically on Mar. 8, 2024. Kung Fu Panda is available to rent on Prime Video.

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