The Irrepressible Success of Shang-Chi


As a native of the Bay Area – known to be an especially culturally diverse nook of the West Coast – I saw countless familiar faces and friends at the theaters a few Fridays ago. After all, it was opening night for Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings — we simply had to give it a watch.

And like most, I was blown away. Here’s a quick **SPOILER FREE** review of Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings.

In addition to being a monumental step forward in Asian-American representation, the movie gave us San Francisco views and beautiful mythology. The fight choreography was also unreal—unique, elegant, and breathtaking. In my opinion it was the best action in any Marvel movie yet, by far.

And while Marvel gets some flak for its often formulaic-seeming origin stories, Shang-Chi brought an extraordinary freshness to the MCU. Simu Liu’s physicality and charm along with Awkwafina’s comic relief were fantastic, as expected.  However, Tony Leung’s Wenwu (Shang-Chi’s father, head of the Ten Rings Organization, and the big bad of the movie) was the most memorable character. His expressive eyes and nuanced character made for a strong onscreen presence.

What elevated the movie even further was its phenomenal soundtrack. The music that accompanied some of the action scenes sounded absolutely electrifying in the theater, and it’s safe to say that it sounds pretty great on my Spotify playlist as well.

While critics and moviegoers alike raved about the movie, fans couldn’t help but notice the silence on Disney’s part. Despite promises of increased representation, Shang-Chi was one of Marvel’s least advertised movies in recent years. In fact, many observed and remarked on how all the heavy lifting in the promotion department was done by the film’s lead himself, Liu. While his social media campaigns came across as creative and sincere to most, it was disheartening to see him have to do what a mega-corporation like Disney should have unquestioningly taken care of.

Despite all of the odds stacked against Shang-Chi — a raging pandemic, a tight budget ($150 million, one of the lowest in the MCU), and an atmosphere of rising anti-Asian sentiment in the United States— the film has garnered millions, with many MCU fans claiming Shang-Chi to be the best Marvel movie yet. Now the highest-grossing film of 2021 after surpassing Black Widow’s domestic gross, Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings has blasted past box office predictions and upended even the highest of expectations. The people have spoken and hopefully the industry has heard — this is a new era for the movies.