Shang-Chi and The Legend of the Ten Rings: Marvel’s Best Origin Story?
Valeri Cruz Amaya, Co-Editor
Mix in the magic from Doctor Strange, the beautiful cinematography of Thor: Ragnarok, the choreography from Captain America: The Winter Soldier, multiply it by ten and you get Shang-Chi and The Legend of the Ten Rings. Directed by Daniel Destin Cretton, Shang-Chi and The Legend of the Ten Rings has easily become a fan favorite and sits at the top in the best Marvel origin story rankings for many fans.
The movie follows Shaun (Simu Liu) and his attempts to live a normal Chinese-American life working as a valet with his best friend Katy (Awkwafina). His very average life in San Francisco is interrupted by his father (Tony Leung), a mighty conqueror that with ten magical rings, has been able to hoard wealth, land, and power for centuries. Not only does Shaun, his Chinese name Shang-Chi, hide this fact from his friends, he has also failed to mention that his mother (Fala Chen) was a skilled gatekeeper for the hidden village Ta Lo and he later finds out his sister Xialing (Meng’er Zhang) has trained herself in martial arts and now runs an underground fighting ring. With his sister and best friend, Shang-Chi is forced to deal with his complicated family history and fight battles he never would have expected.
With being the first Marvel film with an Asian superhero and lead and having a racist past in the Shang-Chi comics, the cast and crew had very large expectations to meet and surpass. Great fight scenes were expected from the film but with the mystical aspect and of course CGI, they were elevated to battles we had never really seen in the MCU before. In the first ten minutes of the film, audiences are met with one of the most beautiful and aesthetic fight scenes between Shang-Chi’s parents, the warrior Wenwu and guardian Ying Li. This marriage of fantasy with action is what makes Shang-Chi stand out from previous Marvel films.
Another aspect of the film that makes it extraordinary is the serious discussion of abusive parents. We see bits of this with Gamora and Nebula’s relationship with Thanos but Shang-Chi’s inclusion of child abuse makes the film take a darker turn that made some audiences uncomfortable. Wenwu’s child abuse towards Shang-Chi and neglect of his daughter Xialing ultimately give us two strong characters who have this internal battle of how they feel towards their father.
In recent years, Marvel has shifted the attention of women from over-sexualized to strong and powerful. Although many female characters are restricted to supporting roles, Meng’er Zhang’s portrayal of Xialing is incredible in more ways than one. Xialing’s complicated relationship with the men in her family pushed her to be a strong fighter but her relationship with them doesn’t define her and isn’t the main point of her character. From what audiences learn about Xialing, it would be a shame for the MCU to not do more with her character later on.
Even though there are mixed reviews and opinions for the film, Shang-Chi and The Legend of the Ten Rings has proven to be one of Marvel’s best projects and is even the #1 highest grossing movie of 2021 at the domestic box office. If you still haven’t watched Marvel’s newest film, there’s still time before it leaves theaters in mid-October, then you can find it on Disney+ on November 12.