The moment all Marvel fans were anticipating finally arrived on September 3, 2021, with the release of Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings. Produced by Marvel Studios, and starring Simu Liu as the main character, it is the 25th film in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
In the film, Shang-Chi (Simu Liu) is forced to confront his past after he is drawn into his father’s Ten Rings organization. Aside from its show-stopping cinematography, brilliant acting, and stunning costumes, Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings is breaking records for many other reasons.
As a wave of anti-Asian sentiment rose in all parts of the world as a racist response to the coronavirus pandemic, many people of colour stood up and began speaking about the importance of real representation in Hollywood. Shang-Chi delivered a new Asian representation and a brand new superhero for millions of little children around to look up to and see that they are portrayed along with the classics. For Chinese-Canadian actor, Simu Liu, playing a superhero has always been his dream job, previously actively campaigning for Marvel to notice him. In addition, Shang-Chi features the MCU’s first all-Asian cast and involves a gripping story that’s grounded in the mythology of Chinese culture.
Over the weekend it was released, Shang-Chi did even better than predicted; the movie collected almost $95 million in the first four days in theatres, setting a Labour Day weekend record. However, this groundbreaking movie and these results haven’t come without its difficulties. Disney CEO Bob Chapek found himself under fire for calling the theatre release strategy of the new movie as an “interesting experiment’. Simu Liu took to Twitter and voiced his objection to Chapek’s choice of words:
‘We are not an experiment. We are the underdog; the underestimated. We are the ceiling-breakers. We are the celebration of culture and joy that will persevere after an embattled year. We are the surprise.”
Although, at the premiere, Marvel Studios president Kevin Feige said that Chapek’s words were misunderstood and the proof is in the amount of creative energy put into the production.
With its predominantly East Asian cast, Shang-Chi is a sign that the TV and film industry is finally starting to listen to the voices of those who are not represented on the big screen. After years of being stereotyped, overlooked and mocked in the general media, Asians are finally starting to have more of a foothold. Dr. Nancy Wang Yuen, sociologist and author of Reel Inequality says
“I think we need an [Asian] superhero because of the history of Asians in Western cinema being villainous or servile… from a young person’s perspective it’s empowering”.
Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings available in cinemas now.
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Browne, Kesewaa. “Why Asian Superhero Shang-Chi Could Truly Change the World.” BBC Culture, BBC, 6 Sept. 2021, www.bbc.com/culture/article/20210906-why-asian-superhero-shang-chi-could-truly-change-the-world.
Komonibo, Ineye. “‘Shang-Chi & The Legend of the 10 Rings’ Isn't Just a Box Office Win - It's the Future of the MCU.” Simu Liu Talks Shang Chi & MCU Representation, 8 Sept. 2021, www.refinery29.com/en-ca/2021/09/10666087/simu-liu-shang-chi-mcu-representation-interview.
Sarkisian, Jacob. “Kevin Feige Says Disney CEO's 'Experiment' Comment about 'Shang-Chi' Was a 'Misunderstanding'.” Insider, Insider, 17 Aug. 2021, www.insider.com/kevin-feige-disney-ceo-marvel-mcu-shang-chi-experiment-misunderstanding-2021-8.