Shang Chi Renews the MCU


Max Pearlman, Film Critic

Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings brings Marvel into its
next era of heroes in an exciting and lively way. With the mediocre
Black Widow coming out just 3 months earlier, Marvel was looking
for their first blockbuster hit since 2019 and found it in Shang-Chi.

Overall, it introduces what looks to be one of Marvel’s next marquee
heroes in a solid manner. While it definitely could use some polishing, Shang-Chi definitely gets a lot right, and deserves to be praised. Spoilers Ahead – You Have Been Warned

First and certainly foremost, the action scenes and choreography in this movie are simply excellent. Unlike any other Marvel movie, it focuses on presenting the action with an emphasis on martial arts, and more traditional lighting styles, as opposed to the laser beams and
thunder hammers that were used to. Every action scene is stunning, and has you on the edge of your seat the entire time, and while I think it relies on the spectacle of the action to a fault, it doesn’t take away from the outstanding job that the cast and crew did.

Other positives are the great world and character building done in the movie. Shang-Chi had the tough task of introducing a new world, and a myriad of characters into the MCU. Altogether, they executed this quite well. The world built in Shang-Chi is definitely
one of intrigue moving forward. Establishing Ta Lo, a mythical city in another dimension, which will hopefully be explored in further installments. Also bringing in the Ten Rings, magic artifacts with some supernatural powers; likely being the next major plot device explored in future movies, with more mystery being added inside the post credits scene.

As far as characters go, ShangChi does a satisfactory job of bringing in some new faces to add to the MCU’s catalogue. Starting off with Simu Liu’s Shang-Chi; we certainly didn’t get anything
groundbreaking, even so, we ended up with a likeable and entertaining protagonist. I will also add that I think that Shang-Chi has great potential to evolve as a character in
future movies (Thor, anyone). Next, Awkwafina’s Katy, another likeable and entertaining character. I think that her humor landed pretty well, and I look forward to seeing her character on screen more in the future. I am also interested if they will evolve on her mini archery arc seen in the third act of the movie. Now for the highlight of the movie in my opinion, Tony Leung’s Mandarin/Wen Wu. Good job Marvel. With Marvel villains generally being pretty underwhelming, it was nice to see an intimidating antagonist with a sinister backstory, and somewhat sensical motivations (although they could have been better). Even though he “dies” at the end of the movie, it would not be shocking in the slightest to see him return. As we know, being disintegrated in a Marvel movie is about as lethal as a vacuum cleaner. Another solid supporting character includes Xialing, who looks to play an interesting role in future titles. Victor Drago also makes an appearance, unfortunately due to his devastating loss at the hands of Adonis Creed, he tried replacing his right with a machete. The only character inclusion that I was not fond of was Ben Kingsley’s return as The Mandarin. I thought that he should have just been a cameo, but he felt a little overused and humorless.

Even after all that praise, I do think that Shang-Chi came up short in one critical place – the third act. I was looking forward to this movie utilizing its strengths, and going for an epic Ip Man style duel between Shang-Chi and Wen Wu, but instead we got our typical CGI monster finale. I will say on the bright side that these monsters were pretty terrifying, but I think that there could’ve been some better character moments in the short time that Shang-Chi and Wen Wu fought in the third act. However, I won’t count these monsters out completely as I do think they could just be scratching the surface of a whole new plot revolving around them in further movies.

Other than that one slip up, all in all, I think that this was a solid origin story for a new principal figure in the Marvel Universe. We were given good worldbuilding and characters, some excellent action, and a sufficient plot, to what makes up a Solid B on the report card.