OTwo Reviews: Shang Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings

Image Credit: Rahul Agrawai

Elliott Salmon breaks down the newest feature in Marvel’s franchise odyssey Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings.

In March 2018, actor Simu Liu tweeted “OK @Marvel, are we gonna talk or what #ShangChi”.  Shortly after, Kevin Feige, the head of Marvel Studios, globally announced that Shang-Chi would be one of the next superheroes to enter the Marvel cinematic universe. Fast forward to July 2021, and this tweet has become one of the most memorable milestones in the lead up to Simu Liu’s fantastic Marvel debut.  

This endeavor is among one of the very few superhero films that are truly light-hearted and humorous. There is a continuous flow of comedy that is just right and not heavy enough to disrupt the flow of the film. Awkwafina’s presence in this  film introduces a fresh comedic atmosphere to superhero films and was a wonderful casting choice. These characters don’t take themselves too seriously; it's a rare sight. 

“Every nook and cranny of the kicks and the punches thrown were explored and exposed for their fine detail throughout...”

Ben Kingston’s character, Trevor Slattery, was a refreshing reminder of the laughter element that Korg brought to Thor: Ragnarok. He effortlessly allows the audience to fall in love with him whilst creating a very memorable debut of the character alongside Shang-Chi. Are we sure Taika Waititi didn’t write and direct this one? 

Whilst balancing humour and successful character introductions, this film has some of the best fight scenes ever conceived by Marvel. The complexity of the action sequences in this film were slowed down for maximum effect which was an extremely impactful choice by director Destin Daniel Cretton. Every nook and cranny of the kicks and the punches thrown were explored and exposed for their fine detail throughout– which is something that is seldom seen in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. 

At its very core, this film is about goodness. No one is essentially a “villain” in this film. There are no evil beings that dominate this story. Instead, the capacity for goodness is prioritised and the choice to use your superpowers for better rather than worse is emphasised.  Shang-Chi’s father was not actively trying to cause any harm. He was actively being haunted by a menacing creature with the goal of convincing him that a loved one was still alive. The villain's actions come from a place of grief, and it is hard to find fault in him for that.

There are also a few notable nods to the Marvel movies that came before Shang-Chi and The Legend of the Ten Rings that are worth mentioning. We’re given a glimpse of where the Ten Rings originated at the beginning of the film, serving as a reminder to viewers of their cameo in the first Iron Man movie when Tony Stark is kidnapped before constructing his first tech suit. There are also strong ties to Doctor Strange and the mystical magic that he possesses from Kamar Taj. Could there be a potential crossover between Shang-Chi and Doctor Strange as phase four unfolds?

Shang-Chi, his sister Xialing, and Katy could most definitely be headlining the next phase of superheroes as they set themselves up for a triumphant return within the Marvel Cinematic Universe.