Elizabeth De Young
Since the release of The Avengers in 2012, I’ve made a tradition of seeing the Thursday premiere of every Marvel movie since. Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings was no exception. Many moviegoers are unfamiliar with this Marvel hero, making even Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) fans cautious of what to expect. So, for the average watcher or the Marvel fanatic, is this one worth the trip to the theaters? Let’s get into whether or not Shang-Chi is worth the watch!
The majority of Marvel movies follow the same format of comedy/action with a side of poorly written romance. Shang-Chi adds much more complex and graceful story elements to create a well rounded film. The conflict of this movie revolves around ancient myths and the culture of those who believe in them. It’s refreshing to see people with different experiences, beliefs, and lifestyles in such mainstream content. The little influences of Chinese culture make all the difference to the story and the lovability of the characters. All this being said, the movie is still hilarious at the right moments showing Marvel knows how to get a laugh after all these years. The action sequences in this movie are worthy of their own section, but in the meantime let’s discuss the “romance.”
If you’re familiar with the trailers for Shang-Chi you’ll know they heavily feature the title hero, Shang and his best friend Katy. The friendship created between Simu Liu and Awkwafina’s characters is so genuine and enjoyable to watch. I won’t spoil any of the details of their relationship but their story is so filled with love and laughter. It’s a very refreshing and real relationship within the Marvel universe. Their relationship isn’t the only instance of love within the movie though, in fact the whole plot is driven by love. Whether that love is one of friendship, romance, family ties, etcetera, it fuels the heart of this story.
Another element of Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings that helps to create such an engrossing experience is the cinematography. One of the most amazing things about this film is it’s visuals. When you think of a superhero movie, it’s most likely you don’t think of breathtaking landscapes and gorgeous colors flitting about, but Shang-Chi is all about this. While there is quite a heavy presence of CGI in the film, it is used in a very enjoyable and visually pleasing manner. It helps to immerse the viewer further into the story of our hero and feel sympathetic towards his struggles.
Now just because a movie is beautiful doesn’t mean that it also can’t have intense fight scenes. The choreography within this film not only keeps the watcher on the edge of their seat, but also helps to convey emotions between characters. Using Asian inspired combat moves keep the story grounded in culture, while the pacing and moves used communicate little things about each character. The fight scenes not only show incredible physical strength and stunt work, but they emphasize connections between characters, whether those connections are of love or hate.
In conversation with Mr. Robbins, I asked him what he thought of the trailers he had seen for Shang-Chi and the Legend of The Ten Rings. “They looked really good,” he replied, “It looks like Marvel is taking the next big step, introducing it’s newest big heroes.” Marvel is famous for having “phases” of their movies, and now tv shows, grouping them based off big turns in the series. Further into our talk, I inquired as to how he thought this movie would compare to the other Marvel movies. “That’s a really tough question,” he began, “I’m not really sure. When Guardians of the Galaxy came out, I waited to see it because I didn’t know anything about it. Now it’s one of my favorite Marvel movies. I guess we’ll just have to see if this is another unexpectedly awesome new movie/hero.”
Overall, Marvel is an incredibly expansive universe, full of so many characters most aren’t familiar with. I think that Mr. Robbins had good insight to say that we may love Shang just as much as we love Starlord or Ant-man, characters many previously had no clue about. The film is full of surprises for new and returning fans alike that makes it such a joy to experience. Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings is definitely worth the watch for anyone who loves to see strong character relationships, well produced action, and stunning visuals.