Judd Karn & Jason Hatfield
Online Editor and Entertainment Editor
The Marvel Film excels as an origin story but is held back by the MCU formula.
With many questions as to how the Marvel Universe will continue through a new generation, “Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings,” has garnered high expectations.
A typical complaint with Marvel Studios movies, as well as superhero movies at large, is that they contain formulaic plots, cliche characters, and a lack of self awareness. Luckily, Shang-Chi thrives and excels at avoiding these pitfalls for the most part. With a stellar cast, great choreography, and phenomenal CGI, the Marvel film not only meets, but exceeds expectations.
It’s ironic how one of the biggest compliments that can be given to a Marvel film is that one forgets they are watching a Marvel movie at all. Marvel superfans, in fact, praise the film for its ability to deviate just enough to give a (somewhat) different experience. In comparison, Marvel’s previous outing, Black Widow, felt stale and unimaginative. While it hit much of the same notes one would expect, it didn’t feel entirely necessary.
With Shang-Chi, Marvel has succeeded in making a unique experience. Much of this should be credited to a unique atmosphere, unlike much of Marvel’s other movies. The welcome inclusion of Marvel’s first Asian-American superhero added to Marvel’s goal of creating a wide variety of heroes for their fans to identify with, as well as creating an entirely different setting then other films.
Sure, Shang-Chi does throw some of the same punches as previous films, but that’s usually for the better. Why exactly would someone become a Marvel fan if it was not for the iconic fight scenes, underdog setup, and otherworldly powers? Shang-Chi has all of those elements, and they are executed particularly well.
While Shang-Chi has plenty to love, some elements are either unnecessary or underbaked. The jester’s character, played by Ben Kingsley from Iron Man 3, was rather rushed and felt like a mediocre element to fill in a role.
Morris, a cute and loveable pillow creature, felt sort of out of place and filling a role that didn’t need to exist. The two were probably the most forced characters in the film, like a comedic character quota they had to meet. With that being said, these characters were a significant part of giving the film a completely different tone than it would have had, for better or worse.
Another thing peculiar about the film was Shang-Chi’s role in it. While previous Marvel outings spent much of their time developing the main character (think of Iron Man, Spiderman, and again, Black Widow), Shang-Chi himself seemed less involved, while the surrounding characters took larger roles. I saw this as an interesting, but successful change of structure, but others may find Shang-Chi’s lack as the main character comparably less compelling.
Katy (Awkwafina) and Xialing (Meng’er Zhang), felt less like supporting characters and more like counterparts to Shang-Chi. Katy’s lackluster reason to be in the later half of the movie is a bit distracting, but she is a good grounded comedic relief and without her the movie would feel too serious.
Xialing, is reasonably apprehensive about helping her brother, Shang-Chi, throughout the movie and serves as a much needed helping-hand to Shang-Chi that is portrayed very well by the actress.
The film gives the audience a stellar soundtrack, new set of characters and a unique atmosphere into the Marvel Cinematic Universe. It’s no wonder people love the divergent Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings.
Final score: 8.1/10