Starring Simu Liu and Awkwafina, “Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings” is one of Marvel’s most action-packed and visually stunning films.
From its martial arts sequences in a mythological forest to a boxing match in an underground fight club, the movie has incorporated both elegance and power into its fight scenes in a way that has never been seen before from Marvel.
On Sept. 3, Marvel’s first Asian superhero made his record-breaking U.S. debut. According to the Hollywood Reporter, in only its second-weekend “Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings” has made $35.8 million at U.S. box offices alone.
Disney’s CEO Bob Chapek had seemingly not suspected the outstanding reception.
When speaking to investors during a quarterly earnings call on Aug. 12, Chapek stated, “We think it’s [Shang-Chi] actually going to be an interesting experiment for us because it’s got only a 45-day window for us.” Simu Liu, who played Shang-Chi, was displeased by that comment and made his opinion known on Twitter. He stated, “We are not an experiment. We are the underdog; the underestimated. We are the ceiling-breakers, We are the celebration of culture and joy that will persevere after an embattled year. We are the surprise. I’m fired the f*** up to make history on September 3rd; JOIN US.”
Marvel fans did not disappoint. “Shang-Chi” is now the second-largest weekend at the box office since the start of the pandemic. As of Sept. 12, it has earned a total of $145.6 million worldwide.
The plot of the film follows Shang-Chi’s father coming back into his life in order to find his mother. The movie starts with the backstory of his parents meeting through a graceful fight scene. It then progresses into the present day where Shaun, aka Shang-Chi, is working with his best friend as a valet. Shang-Chi is confronted with his past when men attack him on the bus, trying to steal his childhood necklace. This is the catalyst of the plot and when his father, Xu Wenwu, played by Tony Leung, comes back into his life. Bringing painful memories and mistakes from their childhood, Xu Wenwu manipulates his son and daughter into coming back home to search for their mother. The film takes us to stunning places as Shang-Chi discovers he cannot run from who he is, where he came from or his own battles.
Simu Liu’s portrayal of Shang-Chi is best expressed when surrounded by the portrayals of his best friend and sister. Without the female characters in the film, our protagonist would not have been able to show all the layers of his character. Whether it is through karaoke night or recklessly driving a fancy car, his best friend Katy, played by Awkwafina, is able to pull the fun-loving, kind and funny side out of him.
The relationship he has with his sister Xialing, played by Meng’er Zhang, brings out his own regrets about the past and determination to fight back. Xialing is able to do this by confronting Shang-Chi with the way he treated her. Shang-Chi’s selfish actions left Xialing alone and betrayed. Her anger and resentment towards him throughout the plot is able to drive Shang-Chi’s emotional journey of confronting his mistakes and correcting them.
Any Marvel fans that have not been able to see this movie yet do not need to fear how this new superhero fits into “Phase Four” of the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU). This movie perfectly fits into the timeline, and Simu Liu’s portrayal of Shang-Chi is fun, loving and layered. Between Peter Parker’s naive attitude, Ant-Man’s playful tone and Dr. Strange’s ego, adding Shang-Chi to the magical mix will make for some witty banter during “Phase Four” of the MCU. In fact, the movie even references others in the Marvel Cinematic Universe like “Iron Man 3” and “Doctor Strange.”
Overall, Marvel having their first Asian director and almost fully Asian cast has led to a heartful and layered film that will be beloved by comic fans and moviegoers alike. The director Destin Daniel Cretton is able to balance both thrill and emotion perfectly through this movie. Cretton told CNN “I could have really used a hero like this. Whose strength is found ultimately in his ability to look inside himself, to understand himself, to understand the good parts and the difficult parts and the pain and the joyful memories.”
If you are looking for a visually stunning movie that has action and comedy, “Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings” would be a great addition to your must-see list.