Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings makes its long-delayed arrival as the second post-blip feature in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
Before you read any further, the film features both a mid-credits scene and an end-credits scene.
In theory, this is the second feature film of Phase 4. However, Black Widow was first but it takes place during the Phase 3 era. This film is noticeably post-blip with its references (signs or a line of dialogue). In any event, this film is a lot of fun and Marvel has another hit on their hands. When I found out that Marvel was bringing on Destin Daniel Cretton to direct, I knew the film would be in good hands. We’re talking about the filmmaker behind Short Term 12! When you have a filmmaker of Cretton’s capabilities behind the camera, it brings high expectations. Of course, this isn’t a smaller indie drama or a mid-budget studio film. Marvel offers Cretton a larger playground and the end result is a lot of fun.
When we meet Xu Shang-Chi (Simu Liu), he’s abandoned his past as a trained assassin and is good friends with Katy (Awkwafina). The film’s events sees him reunite with his estranged sister, Xu Xialing (Meng’er Zhang). Eventually, he’s has to make his way back home and reunite with his father, the Mandarin/Wenwu (Tony Leung). The filmmakers give Wenwu a more complex portrait. He also replaces his comic book equivalent, Fu Manchu, to lessen the racist stereotypes. This is all I am going to say about the plot itself. There is more to the film than this, of course, but Marvel films are best enjoyed when you know little.
There’s no shortage of easter eggs here. We haven’t had a solo Hulk film since 2008 but the Abomination returns with a whole different look this time around where he’s facing off against Wong (Benedict Wong). Wong doesn’t have much screentime here but Marvel’s made clear that he’s going to be the new Coulson throughout the Phase 4 films. Does this mean an appearance during Eternals? We’ll just have to wait until November unless there’s another theatrical delay. Anyway, I would love to discuss the easter eggs in full but this is a Marvel film and alas, it would ruin it if I did. What I can definitely say is that I had so much fun with one of them! I mean, I was laughing/clapping at the time.
The Ten Rings are no stranger to the MCU. They played a big presence during the Iron Man films. What Shang-Chi does is allow us to see a fuller picture of just who the Ten Rings are let alone the physical Ten Rings. We’re introduced to new characters and a new culture that Marvel hasn’t shown us before on either big or small screen. And again, because it is a Marvel film, I’m going to keep my comments brief. This is the type of film that you should go in knowing as little as possible. However, I will say that I’m loving the addition of a new culture on screen.
When Walt Disney Co. CEO Bob Chapek says that Shang-Chi is an experiment, what he meant was the film’s theatrical window. This film will play in theaters for 45 days before heading to Disney+. He did not think that it was an experiment in terms of diversity. We’re in a pandemic and studios still have to look after the bottom line. What is good for their profits but at the same time will still be safe for consumers. I saw the film in a press-only environment in which I’m comfortable. I’m not comfortable attending screenings that include people with promo/WOM tickets.
Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings presents a bright future for Marvel Studios and the expanded cinematic universe. I feel that Shang-Chi will do for Asian/Asian-American youth what Wonder Woman and Captain Marvel did for young girls and Black Panther did for Black people. Welcome to the circus!
DIRECTOR: Destin Daniel Cretton
SCREENWRITERS: Dave Callaham & Destin Daniel Cretton & Andrew Lanham
CAST: Simu Liu, Awkwafina, Meng’er Zhang, Fala Chen, Florian Munteanu, Benedict Wong, Yuen Wah, Ronny Chieng, Zach Cherry, Dallas Liu, with Michelle Yeoh and Tony Leung