Dragons, martial arts and mystical beasts: a combination like no other. The MCU introduces a new superhero, Shang-Chi, in an exciting, action-packed film.
Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings, released on Sept. 3, made history as the first Marvel movie to have an Asian director—Destin Daniel Cretton—and a predominantly Asian cast.
The film stars Simu Liu as Shang-Chi, Awkwafina as Katy and Tony Leung Chiu-wai as Wenwu. The star, Simu Liu, is known for playing Jung in Kim’s Convenience. Awkwafina is most known for her roles in Crazy Rich Asians and Ocean’s 8. This is their first Marvel debut.
Marvel continues to amass a large audience for its films as it continues into Phase 4. As of Sept. 10, Shang-Chi grossed over $146.2 million in the box office worldwide, an impressive feat.
According to Rolling Stone, “The latest Marvel movie tells a cross-generational, culture-forward superhero tale with style, grace and plenty of action.”
The story begins with Shang-Chi’s father Wenwu, who is the leader of the Ten Rings Organization that uses martial arts to train its warriors. He uses the all-powerful ten rings, which grant him immortality and great power, along with his army to conquer and destroy. After centuries of victory, he still cannot find satisfaction until he meets his future wife Ying Li when trying to discover Ta Lo, a magical village which contains many mystical creatures. Ying Li leaves her home for true love.
Wenwu and Ying Li have two children, Shang-Chi and Xialing. Wenwu is devastated when his wife dies from an attack from an enemy gang. After the result of such pain and loss, he trains his son to be a skilled assassin. He sends Shang-Chi on a mission to murder the leader of the gang who killed his mother. After following through with the mission, feeling guilty and alone, he flees to San Francisco, changing his name to Shaun. Wenwu is grief-stricken from the loss of his wife, so attempts to bring her back, but only incites evil.
Shang-Chi and Xialing fight together to bring down their father along with the help of Shang-Chi’s best friend Katy and a familiar face from the Iron Man series.
In Shang-Chi, it is revealed that Wenwu is the true Mandarin. This comes as a shock as the Mandarin’s identity has been teased since 2013. Wenwu felt insulted when he saw Americans make a mockery of his image. Marvel attempts to fix their mistake from Iron Man 3 with this reveal.
In Iron Man 3, “The Mandarin” was the leader of a terrorist organization targeting the United States. The Mandarin broadcasted nationally. The surprise twist in the film is that the mysterious “Mandarin” is a white actor from Liverpool, Trevor Slattery, who had no clue what was going on. The true mastermind is Aldrich Killian, who hated Iron Man. Killian attempts to kill the President of the United States, but Iron Man comes to the rescue and saves the President.
When escaping Wenwu, Shang-Chi, Xialing and Katy stumble upon Trevor Slattery, who was captured by Wenwu. He was acting as the true Mandarin’s jester to avoid execution. They are just as surprised to see Trevor Slattery as the audience was. The return of this hilarious, naïve character is a nice tribute to the fans who have missed Iron Man.
The return of Trevor Slattery is not the only MCU character to make a cameo. Wong, from Doctor Strange, appears to fight a monster in a fight club in one of the scenes in the film.
Furthermore, like most Marvel side characters, Winter Soldier, Loki and Shuri, Katy stole the spotlight. Awkwafina’s comedic timing is perfect, and her delivery is flawless and allows for a break in the story. She even manages to fight in the final battle of the movie.
The best parts of Marvel movies are the end-credit scenes, which tease at future movies. The film includes not one, but two end-credit scenes.
In the first end credit scene, Wong asks Shang-Chi and Katy to follow him into a portal where Wong analyzes the ten rings. Then, Mark Ruffalo as Bruce Banner and Brie Larson as Captain Marvel appear in this hologram Zoom-like call. They exclaim that they have never seen anything like the rings before and that they are older than others claimed them to be.
Bruce Banner warns Shang-Chi by saying, “Welcome to the circus.”
In the second end-credit scene, we see Xialing as the new head of the Ten Rings Organization. Many wonder if she will become a new enemy to the Avengers or become an ally.
This film is a beautiful celebration of Asian culture. According to Richard Trenholm from CNET, “The style of the film draws on the rich history of Asian cinema, from martial arts movies to gangster films to romance and in particular the lush visual and emotional style of wuxia epics.”
Shang-Chi further proves Marvel is making strides in inclusivity and diversity. Falcon and the Winter Soldier explored the significance of a Black man taking on the role of Captain America. Wandavision dealt with Wanda’s mental health as she experienced loss and grief. Shang-Chi introduces the first major Asian superhero in an alluring, unforgettable film that celebrates Asian history. Marvel movies never disappoint. Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings is no exception.