Shen's Wolf Army are the supporting antagonists of DreamWorks's 22nd full-length animated feature film Kung Fu Panda 2. They are a pack of wolves that serve as Lord Shen's army, and are led by Boss Wolf, the pack's military strategist and loyal servant of Shen.
The wolves of Shen's army are loyal, savage, and both fear and respect their two leaders: Boss Wolf and Shen. They are also bullies and have no qualms with picking on the citizens of Gongmen City, and they are ruthless as they willingly slaughtered an innocent farming village of pandas on Shen's orders.
These wolves once served as the royal guard of Gongmen City. But the only member of the royal family ever to befriend the wolves was Shen, the heir to Gongmen City's throne. Shen fed them, played with them, and treated them like family. The pack and their leader eventually swore their allegiance to Shen.
Shen then ordered them to attack the Panda Village to avert the prophecy that "a warrior of black and white" will defeat him. When Shen was banished by his parents for the heinous crime, the pack and their leader were banished alongside him.
Kung Fu Panda 2
Once the wolves had completed Shen's cannon, they joined him in returning to Gongmen City. After a fight which ended with Master Thundering Rhino being killed by Shen's cannon, the wolves ended up imprisoning Masters Storming Ox and Croc.
When Po and the Furious Five arrived in Gongmen City after learning what happened to Master Thundering Rhino, they ended up running into the wolf army and fought them until their capture.
In the climax of the battle, Boss Wolf was killed when he tried to turn against Shen. Most of the wolves were killed when Shen's vessel exploded while a few escaped to an unknown fate.
Kung Fu Panda 3
The wolves didn't make a live appearance in Kung Fu Panda 3, but it turns out that several pandas (led by Po's father Li Shan) have escaped the wolves' slaughter and have taken refuge in a village on the mountains. However, the wolves are briefly seen near the end of a recycled flashback told by Li of how he lost his family, just as Po and Li conspire together to protect the panda village from the arriving Kai and his army of Jombies.
The wolf army makes up the majority of Shen's military force. Supervising animator Rodolphe Guenoden noted how they use a non-academic fighting style, possessing the build to appear "hunched over and vicious-looking, and...attack more like brawlers, moving as a pack." All this being, they primarily use weapons to fight their battles. Many of them wield swords similar to Shen's lance or a different kind with flame-like edges, and they have a faction of archers.
The wolves' skills in battle extend beyond just weapons and fighting stance. The wolves are also notable for being deceptive, strong, savage, and using numbers to overwhelm their foes. They use howling as a means of communication and signals, allowing them to organize and remain coordinated amongst a large pack. Some or all of the wolves also seem to serve as the "stealth force" of Shen's army, as they are swift, agile, and capable of leaping great heights and running across rooftops.
The wolves are known to wield a wide variety of weapons, of such consist of mainly swords, spears, and bow-and-arrow sets. Art director Tang Kheng Heng noted how "the [weapon] designs were inspired by weapons we saw in Ping Yao, where the first bank in China was created and therefore needed solid protection."
The wolves' entire armory is best notable for keeping with the film's flame motif, the curves and points of the metal reflecting the movements of fire. This was meant to serve as a constant visual reminder that the wolves were Shen's fiery force.
All of the wolves keep a basic, consistent look in their protective wardrobe, with only some unique features on a few wolves. The basic look consists of leather wraps along their whole upper body, variously-styled leather elbow and shoulder pads, and from the waist down wear a kilt made out of leather and/or scaled armor. Molded onto some of this armor is Shen's fiery-red "peacock eye", symbolizing the wolves' allegiance to the evil prince.
Some wolves were given a few extra layers of clothing; among one of them were metallic masks, worn to protect their face but also add to their threatening and menacing appearance. Character designer Nicolas Marlet found it "fun to play up the threat factor with all kinds of one-eyed, mohawked, masked versions of the wolves," but was found challenging to the animators. This was because "[the masks] are crafted out of metal yet required rigging to allow expression to some extent," explained character technical direction supervisor Martin Costello. In the end, the animators were less rigid about implementing individual facial expressions because they wanted to maintain the "packness" of the army.
Other unique additions made to the wolves' armor were strands of rope, which some had tied around their waist and/or arms presumably to help secure their armor.
- Wolves first came into the Kung Fu Panda universe when character designer Nicolas Marlet "amped up the intimidation element." According to production designer Raymond Zibach, this concept was placed into the wolves by "[taking] what exists in nature and [exaggerating them] to support the story, such as making [their] jaws protrude like a bear trap, or giving their fur an extra spiky, aggressive silhouette."
- The wolves are noted to have been such legendary and fearsome creatures of the Kung Fu world, as well as his repressed memory of his past at the Panda Village, that Po had incorporated them into his dream in the beginning sequences of Kung Fu Panda.
- In Kung Fu Panda 2: The Game, remnants of Lord Shen's wolf army and his gorilla army still lurked in Gongmen City, but were quickly disposed of by Po and the Furious Five before the Komodo Dragons came into view.
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