The Marvel Cinematic Universe took its next progressive leap with its very first full-length feature film that has an Asian superhero as its protagonist, Shang Chi, and The Legend of the Ten Rings. The movie kicks off the story about the Ten Rings organization which gets mentioned twice or thrice before in the MCU films- Ironman, The Ant-Man, and Iron Man 2. The Shang Chi movie scored a record 19 million dollars on Labour day which has been its highest one-day collection. That made the Walt Disney and Marvel movie cross the hundred billion mark in a matter of just five days within its release domestically.
Shang Chi Movie Plot
The film had its premiere in Los Angeles in August of 2021, Shang Chi’s release date in the USA was the third of September 2021. Marvel did a good thing hiring a director from an Asian origin, Destin Daniel Cretton, and a writer from the same, Dave Callaham to create a story from a strictly Asian point of view. White men have written about culturally diverse people before which has only led to furthering the cause of gross stereotypes and cultural appropriation. In order to avoid this, and the issue of misrepresentation, Marvel directed Callaham to write from his point of view. Callaham also categorically mentions in an interview that it was for the very first time someone was asking him to write from his own experience.
The Shang Chi movie aims at connecting the dots between the Ten Rings organization mentioned earlier and phases four of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. The story revolves around Wenwu, who mysteriously finds out about the Ten Rings which provides him magical powers and thereby establishes the Ten Rings organization. He later falls in love with Ying Li, which the villagers are dismissive of, so they leave the organization, elope, and have two children, Shang Chi and Xialing. Later, when Shang Chi was very young, his mother Li was killed by Wenwu’s enemies called the Iron gang. Wenwu decides to avenge the death of his love and joins the organization again. He also makes Shang Chi go through rigorous training in order to prepare him to avenge the death of his mother. In a fateful turn of events, Shang Chi becomes adept at martial arts and fulfills his purpose, only to become disillusioned with life. Shang Chi then moves to San Francisco and assumes the name Shaun to lead a normal life.
The film next shows Shang Chi and his best friend Katy on a bus, where they are attacked by members of the Iron Gang. A brilliant fight sequence ensues, after which Shang Chi is pulled back into the world he belonged to. The pendant of Li becomes an important motif around which the story revolves. The pendant contains the map to Xialing and the story ensues hereafter. There are ample elements from Chinese mythology as well, including the Chinese dragon called Great Protector, thereby accurately celebrating the Asian heritage and culture of the movie. In the fight between Wenwu and Shang Chi, many dweller’s minions escape when Wenwu is unaware. Wenwu and the Ten Rings then attempt to dissolve their differences with Shang Chi in order to fight the minions. When the Dweller in darkness attempts to attack Shang Chi, Wenwu saves him by painting a target on his own back. Wenwu gets killed but assigns the responsibility of the Ten rings upon Shang Chi before he dies. Shang Chi and the gang then fight the Dweller to end it and thereafter return to their homely abode. The story leaves the audience at a cliffhanger where Wong calls them to the Sanctum Sanctorum.
The mid-end credits scene calls in Banner and Captain Marvel speculating about the dicey signals that the Ten Rings are emitting and the post-end credits show Xialing as the newly crowned leader of the Ten Rings.
The problem with having an Asian representation in a superhero movie from the Marvel banner is that it could risk going into the realm of cultural appropriation. The one thing audiences did not want to see the Shang Chi movie become is yet another Asian movie with martial arts. Luckily. Callaham did not turn the movie into another Jackie Chan enterprise. Critics have opined that the fight sequences may have been one of the best choreographies on part of Marvel. The casting of Simu Liu also feels perfect as he dexterously pulls off the confident yet goofy persona of Shang Chi. Shang Chi earned a whopping 29.6 million dollars on its opening day. The Shang Chi movie received 92% over Rotten Tomatoes and had an amazing box office opening. Black Widow collections slightly faded in comparison with the collections of Shang Chi in the box office. While the movie did not really steer away from the classic Marvel formulae, what draws the audience is the family drama element in an otherwise all-in-all superhero film.
Shang Chi essentially did its part in helping the theatres run during this pandemic.
The majority seemed to be running the show between all of the important releases that made big bucks for the theatres, which included Free Guy, Jungle Cruise, and the recent Shang Chi and the Legend of The Ten Rings. It is definitely not an ideal situation where only Disney is running the show for making money, but it seems to be just these films that draw a large audience because it can be said with an amount of certainty that everyone would show up for a new Marvel enterprise. As far as the story arc for the new avengers is concerned, after End Game, the MCU seems to be picking up pace. The new universe is not just inclusive but also diverse in a lot of ways, with Black Widow getting her own movie after Captain Marvel being the first female superhero film from Marvel. The baton has been passed on from Black Panther, which featured the first black superhero to Shang Chi, which featured the first one of an Asian origin. Audiences are hooked onto see where the story arc of the Ten Rings leads up to and how it gets integrated into the larger new Avengers scheme of things.