Arts & Entertainment

‘Shang-Chi’ pioneers Asian representation in MCU

Photo: Marvel Studios Shang-Chi movie poster

by Isaac Lopez, staff writer

As the first Marvel movie with an Asian lead, Shang-Chi and The Legend of the Ten Rings  absolutely destroyed the box office upon its theater-exclusive release on Sept. 3, 2021 and was new ground for the Marvel Cinematic Universe because of its celebration of Chinese culture. After almost two years without new Marvel movies in theatres, Shang-Chi, directed by Destin Daniel Cretton, hit the big screen, providing an amazing origin story about the hero from Marvel comics. 

Shang-Chi was first introduced in December 1973 through Steve Englehart’s and Jim Starlin’s “Special Marvel Edition #15” comic as an assassin turned hero. As time went on Shang-Chi gained popularity, even joining the Avengers in the comics briefly in 2013. 

With that in mind, we move to the organization he is forced to face in his movie, the Ten Rings of the film’s title, which is led by none other than his own father, the infamous “Mandarin,” played by Tony Leuong Chiu-wai.  The Mandarin was well known throughout the MCU: his organization was first mentioned in 2008’s Iron Man and continued into 2013’s Iron Man 3. However, it was soon revealed that he was only being impersonated by another. Ever since, the real Mandarin’s identity has been a mystery to Marvel fans until now. 

In Ten Rings, after living an ordinary life, Shang-Chi is forced to confront his past, including his father whom he ran from as a young boy, during Shang-Chi’s time in the Ten Rings. His father, the Mandarin, has wielded the ten rings throughout history, eventually naming his organization after them; the rings gave him extraordinary power and the gift of immortality. He goes about life purely taking control of whatever he wants. However, that changes when one day the Mandarin searches for an ancient city called Ta Lo in hopes of conquering it.

In his search, he meets a woman who shows him there’s more to life than such madness. That woman was Shang-Chi’s mom, Ying Li, played by Fala Chen. They wedded and lived happily with one another, leaving their old lives behind. That was until Ying Li’s untimely death when Shang-Chi was a young boy. After years of training under his father in the Ten Rings, Shang-Chi escapes his father’s control to start anew. That is where his own story begins.

Watching Shang-Chi, I was truly shocked, absolutely nerding out at multiple points. The fight choreography was truly something incredible, so unique, something the MCU hadn’t done before and something I personally hope to see more of. It leaves you in suspense in each action scene, an entertaining journey to watch from start to finish. While the choreography and action sequences were great, the best part of the film was the story. It was well paced and captivating. Although the humor was a bit off, I was able to enjoy and laugh at parts. The story was perfect in my opinion. The characters, plot and action sequences really pulled this culturally unique MCU movie together, making yet another Marvel masterpiece to be enjoyed by both fans and non-fans alike. This brings me to my final point: the post credit scene. 

This “bonus scene” is amazing, leaving viewers bursting with questions about the future of Marvel and Shang-Chi.  Although the movie already has multiple appearances of old and recent characters, let’s say the post credit scene is something you really don’t want to miss, so stick around until you see Wong open the portal and help start a new franchise .

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