Editor’s Note: This piece contains spoilers from Marvel’s “Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings” and the Marvel Cinematic Universe as a whole.
The release and success of “Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings” made history in multiple ways. To start, it is the first Asian-led Marvel superhero movie and introduces Simu Liu into the Marvel Cinematic Universe in the titular role of Shang-Chi.
The influx of diversity introduced in the MCU through Phase Four — which are the films in the MCU that will be released between 2021 until 2023 — has been long-awaited, and I am so excited to see the rest of Phase Four play out. Not only that, but this is the first Phase Four MCU movie to receive only a theatrical release. “Shang-Chi” broke records for the largest Labor Day box office opening at $94.4 million.
In addition, the film is also the first English-speaking role for the popular Hong Kong actor Tony Chiu-Wai Leung, who portrays Shang’s father and head of the Ten Rings organization Xu Wenwu.
To me, “Shang-Chi” is what I have been waiting for from the MCU. From the fight sequences to the visuals and comedy, this movie has won my heart.
That is not saying the other MCU movies did not hit the nail on the head, because I believe a lot of them did. But when it comes to overall cultural representation and the general storyline, this movie gets a 9.9 out of 10 from me. With .1 being subtracted for the slower moments in the middle, which included some of the scenes of Shang and Katy, portrayed by Awkwafina, before the movie’s plot advanced forward.
One of my favorite scenes is the opening. Marvel has always, in my opinion, been a hard-hitter with their opening scenes. But the opening scenes so far in Phase Four, both film and series, have been more captivating to watch than their previous films.
This movie’s opening scene introduces the infamous Ten Rings organization, which has been rebranded to its true representation from what we saw in “Iron Man.” When we originally saw the Ten Rings flag, it contained Mongolian script; however, the rebranded flag we see in “Shang-Chi” contains Chinese script meaning power and strength. By showing the true branding of the Ten Rings organization, the group is differentiated from the pseudo Ten Rings in “Iron Man” and embraces its true origin.
The movie dialogue switches between English and Mandarin, with the Mandarin translated in English subtitles. This detail continues to exemplify the diversity and inclusion that this movie represents by embracing the mother tongue of Shang and other characters and allowing them to be their authentic, cultural and ethnic selves. Adding to the culture are the mesmerizing martial arts scenes, which are hands-down some of the best fight sequences in the MCU.
Once Shang was introduced on screen, the humor and the lighthearted nature of the scenes began. The team up between Shang and Katy was a huge success. Katy is the typical Marvel hero’s best friend, without whom the hero would not be able to finish their mission.
The movie introduces Ta Lo to the MCU, a mythical, hidden village that is located in a dimension within the multiverse. “Shang-Chi” is not the first piece of Phase Four to include the multiverse, but after the season one finale of Marvel’s “Loki”, the inclusion of it in this movie increases my excitement and anticipation to dive into the multiverse in “Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness” and “Spider-Man: No Way Home.”
The costume designs and mythical creatures of Ta Lo are also spectacular. As a fan of the fantasy and adventure genres, I was blown away by the visuals in this movie.
Shang’s journey has him fighting between differing forces of good and evil, not only with the movie’s villains, but also fighting an internal battle with himself. The path he takes to self-acceptance is a reflective and inspiring one, with a splash of humor.