Marvel has another winner on its hands.
Just two short months after Black Widow hit theaters, Marvel Studios has returned with Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings, an extremely fun film that manages to effortlessly blend multiple genres together. It still feels like a typical Marvel Cinematic Universe film, but it has its own voice. It knows what it is and that’s an important part of what makes Shang-Chi so great.
Shang-Chi is easily the best solo film in the MCU since Guardians of the Galaxy in 2014. It is very standalone in nature while still being part of that larger universe we’ve grown to love over the last thirteen years. It also feels fitting that Shang-Chi is so closely tied to the Iron Man trilogy. The first Iron Man revived Robert Downey Jr.’s career, turned him into a household name, and held the MCU together for ten years. I believe Shang-Chi is Phase 4’s Iron Man and star Simu Liu is about to become the face of the MCU for the next ten years.
One thing I was not expecting from Shang-Chi was how much emotion and heart would be driving these characters. Liu gives a great performance as Shang-Chi, a man who tried running from his past, but never actually went fast enough to do it. Shang-Chi’s relationship with his father, Xu Wenwu, played brilliantly by Tony Leung, is the crux of the film. These two characters have some exchanges that just tug at your heart strings. Marvel hasn’t always had the best track record with their villains, but Leung’s Wenwu is possibly the best MCU villain we have seen on screen. He is very similar to Thanos, but there’s a more human element driving Wenwu. I believe that makes him more relatable to audiences.
Marvel’s first asian-led superhero film is one worth seeing as soon as possible. The action is phenomenal. Gone are random CGI fights (for the most part). Instead, we have these beautifully choreographed scenes that feature some insane kung fu skills. We never go twenty minutes without Shang-Chi breaking into a fight and showing off his moves.
Overall, Shang-Chi is top tier Marvel. It’s an origin story first and foremost, but it doesn’t always feel like one. Besides the opening scenes, the film is very much rooted in the MCU’s present. When we do get a flashback, it complements and moves the present-day storyline forward rather than hold it back. Every time the film flashes back we learn more about these characters and what has driven them to make the choices they have made that led them to this very moment. Every scene in this film has a purpose.
I feel that is as much as I can write about Shang-Chi without diving into spoilers. So I’ll just tell you again to go see it. If you were tired of how all the MCU films are just one chunk in an ongoing story then you will love this film. If you are someone who likes seeing all the Marvel films connect and crossover then there is also something here for you to enjoy.
I can already tell the characters and world of Shang-Chi are going to be very important moving forward in the MCU, so now is the best time embrace this film. Don’t miss out on the best solo film Marvel has done since 2014. Go watch Shang-Chi.
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