Review: “Shang-Chi” makes his debut as MCU’s first Asian superhero lead

Shang-Chi brings something new to the table in the Marvel Cinematic Universe


One of the most entertaining superhero movies released this year, “Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings” brings Marvel fans an adventurous and action packed story of beloved Marvel comic character the Master of Kung Fu, Shang-Chi. (Photo courtesy of Marvel Studios)

Spoilers ahead. Marvel’s latest superhero film, “Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings” premiered on Sept. 3. This is Marvel’s first Asian lead superhero film and is a triumph for both Marvel Cinematic Universe fans and the Asian community. 

Directed by Destin Daniel Cretton, this action-packed movie follows the story of Shang-Chi who is portrayed by Chinese-Canadian actor Simu Liu.  

At a very young age, Shang-Chi is trained to be a killer by his father after his mother’s death, he longs to escape his father’s wrath and ends up moving to San Francisco, leading a normal life. As years go by, his father finds Shang-Chi along with his sister Xialing (portrayed by Meng’er Zhang), in hopes that they will help him rescue their mother who he thinks is still alive. 

The casting for this movie is phenomenal because the characters who round out the cast are played mainly by Asian stars. This is a big feat for all people of color as there is slowly starting to be a more accurate representation of diversity in actors and actresses playing characters in Hollywood that aren’t just white.

Hollywood has been known for casting white actors to play non-white roles, an example of this is Scarlett Johansson who played the role of an Asian character, Major Motoko Kusanagi in “Ghost in the Shell” (2017). There is lots of ongoing controversy around this issue of whitewashing non-white characters in films, so it is nice to see that “Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings” has a predominantly Asian cast to represent Asian voices on the big screen. 

The use of languages is flawless in this film, as the characters switch back and forth from Mandarin to English. It is nice to see that many of the characters still stay true to their mother tongue at times. 

The soundtrack for this film includes a collection of amazing artists such as NIKI, Rich Brian, Swae Lee, Rick Ross, DJ Snake, and more. The music fits very well into the action sequences and gets the audience hyped up as they watch.

There is plenty of humor in this movie. Shang-Chi’s best friend Katy, who is played by Awkwafina, is without a doubt the main comic relief. 

The story does have an ample amount of flashbacks but it is not too overpowering. The flashbacks are spaced out enough for audience members to understand Shang-Chi’s past more. 

The story itself has a lot of lore that can be found in both Chinese culture and the Marvel comics. We are introduced to mythical creatures with Asian-influenced elements such as the nine-tailed fox and a dragon. 

Many nods to Asian values are in the movie, like a scene where Shang-Chi takes off his shoes before entering a home. The scene itself is short but tells a greater story for Asian audience members to relate to.  

We also see a lot of familiar faces in this film, such as Wong from “Doctor Strange” and The Mandarin from “Iron Man” and “Iron Man 3”. 

The fighting choreography in this film is amazing, as there are plenty of hand-to-hand combat scenes. Towards the end of the movie, Shang-Chi receives the power of the legendary ten rings from his father and uses the rings implemented with his own fighting style. 

One great thing about this film is that almost every character has major growth and character development. Every character has a significant role they play in aiding the journey of Shang-Chi. 

This film is more than just action and adventure, there are many important messages to be found. The film emphasizes the importance of family, friendship and finding yourself. 

This film has one mid-credit scene and one ending credit scene, and without spoiling too much, the mid-credit scene will give Marvel fans a sense of nostalgia by showing some familiar faces in the MCU and can give fans more excitement towards a possible foreshadow to the multiverse. The ending credit scene focuses on Shang-Chi’s individual story, implying that his journey in the MCU is only just beginning. 

As a Marvel fan who is Asian myself, it hits home seeing such great representation in something I enjoy so much, along with others in the Asian community. As the new superheroes of Marvel phase four slowly continue to make their debut on the big screen, diverse cast members representing different cultures is something many audience members can look forward to.

“Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings” will satisfy Marvel fans with a well-needed superhero film with a fresh face introduced into the Marvel Cinematic Universe and gives Marvel fans more things to look forward to in the upcoming MCU films.