An underdog, Shang-Chi approaches Marvel’s ring


Elijah Pacis

The first showing of Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings happened in Los Angeles on August 16, 2021. During this red carpet event, fans could tune into a livestream to catch interviews with the cast and crew of the movie. The film’s nationwide release in the USA will occur on September 3. “I feel releasing a movie related to Asian culture would create an inside look at cultural aspects that many don’t get to see in the west, so I think it would allow for people to correct stereotypes,” NC senior Bryan Casalini said.

Elijah Pacis, Sports Editor

Marvel’s next installment in its highly-regarded Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) franchise features a superhero that flew under people’s radar: Shang-Chi. This character of Chinese descent, written by Steve Englehart and Jim Starlin, found himself first published in 1973 as Marvel’s answer to the American martial arts craze of the ’70s.

Long before the MCU made its first debut with Iron Man (2008), Stan Lee already set his sights on bringing Shang-Chi to the silver screen. In an interview, former Marvel CEO, Margaret Loesch, revealed that Stan Lee spoke to Bruce Lee’s former wife, Linda Lee Cadwell, and their son, Brandon Lee, about Brandon’s starring potential in a Shang-Chi movie. Stan Lee expressed interest in the character with the belief that Shang-Chi could gain huge popularity. However, Loesch mentioned that connections with Cadwell and Brandon Lee fell out later on, and with Lee’s untimely passing while filming The Crow, it seemed that a movie or show about Shang-chi slipped out of Marvel’s grasp. 

Despite doubts, Shang-Chi will soon return to the light after decades of obscurity and debut in the upcoming movie, Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings. Representing Marvel’s first film with an Asian director and predominantly Asian cast, fans cannot help but draw expectations and comparisons to the movie, Black Panther, regarding current racial and social issues. Black Panther left a lasting impact on the black community in America, pushing the main character T’Challa’s story as he tackles black life in the modern world, and critics draw on the hope that Shang-Chi will create a similar effect.

“Especially following Chadwick Boseman’s passing, I think it’s important that what he contributed to keeps going. Racism is an issue I hope movies like this and Black Panther can help solve,” NC senior Chris Guirty said.

Additionally, as Asian thematics continue to impact the mainstream entertainment scene with growing hits in anime,  K-pop and past Asian-centered films including Crazy Rich Asians, Marvel’s Shang-Chi arrives at a ripe time to capitalize on the growing market. Shang-Chi will add to the blossoming scene by taking a shot in the MCU, one of the most popular global movie franchises. 

Despite overwhelming support, a controversy recently made rounds among the Marvel fanbase. Marvel touted Shang-Chi as a movie theater-only release, with Disney CEO, Bob Chapek, calling it an “interesting experiment”, regarding the COVID-19 pandemic influencing Disney’s movie theater and Disney+ simultaneous releases; including Black Widow, Cruella, and Jungle Cruise. The backlash comes from concern since people harbor reservations about going to movie theaters. 

Nonetheless, Shang-Chi will find a welcome spot in the MCU’s stellar lineup of acclaimed films and shows, as Marvel enthusiasts await an unprecedented experience from its talented filmmakers. Though the ’70s fictional phenom will enter a world that begins to move on from a past that featured Bruce Lee and Jackie Chan, fans and critics alike hope this movie will revamp the martial arts scene.

“#ShangChi is an absolute triumph, unexpectedly spiritual and emotionally complex, with some of the very best action in the MCU. @SimuLiu is your new favorite Avenger and the movie’s myriad influences (everything from Jackie Chan to Hayao Miyazaki) pay off big time). Astounding,” critic Drew Taylor said.