Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings sits among the best films in the MCU. Full of incredible heart and some of the best action-sequences the franchise has seen, this film radiates freshness and excitement.
Phase 4 has been off to arguably the best start the Marvel franchise has seen since Iron Man. With the studio’s Disney+ ventures all popular among fans, their two theatrical films thus far have provided focused, character-driven looks at characters new and old.
Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings brings a new hero to the mix, the first Asian superhero for the MCU, the film gave the franchise an opportunity to explore a fresh genre, with interesting characters, a strong emphasis on diversity, and a feeling to audiences that they are about to see a new trilogy begin.
Directed by Destin Daniel Cretton and starring Simu Liu as the titular character, Shang Chi does a lot of little things right. The main character in Shang is relatable, layered, and brings forth a a strong set of powers to get the average viewer interested. The film has an emphasis on marital arts and that plays into why it’s one of the best action-heavy Marvel movies yet.
Shang-Chi is very much character driven, with a family at the center of the entire plot. It makes for engaging content, though at times the story and plot points can become fairly repetitive and the average viewer will be able to see most plot twist coming from a mile away. Despite a bit of a by-the-number plot, the character truly steal the show. Tony Leung Chiu-wai’s character being a true standout among the crowd. As the emotional core of the movie, the Mandarin is the perfect tie to the MCU’s past while subverting expectations for what a Marvel villain can be. Throughout the three phases, Marvel has been hero focused, with villains being forgettable the majority of the time. While rarely you get villains like Winter Soldier, Loki, or Thanos as great villains, audiences have become used to the one-note villain most of the time. Thankfully, Shang-Chi adds a great villain to the list in The Mandarin.
With great choreography and stunt work, the action felt palpable in Shang-Chi, with some of the best sequences being those of hand to hand combat. While the film does feature a heavy CGI sequence which will be familiar to the standard Marvel flair, it’s the more intimate one-on-one fight scenes that truly steal the show.
Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings is packed with surprises as well, from cameos, callbacks, and teases for the future. In many ways, Shang-Chi feels like the first Marvel Cinematic Universe film for Phase 4, with Black Widow feeling more like a Phase 3 film that was delayed till now. A film that will keep long-time Marvel faithfuls engaged, while also bringing in a new crop of fans to the mix, Shang-Chi has all the right ingredients to become the next winning franchise in the MCU.