‘Shang-Chi’ Proves We Don’t Have to Fear About Marvel Shedding Its Superhero Mojo

(L-R): Xialing (Meng’er Zhang), Shang-Chi (Simu Liu) and Katy (Awkwafina) in Marvel Studios’ Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings. Marvel Studios

It shouldn’t be potential. None of it. Not for this lengthy no less than. And but right here we’re on the verge of yet one more dynamite go-around. Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings, which is able to introduce Marvel’s first new lead character since 2019’s Captain Marvel and function the MCU’s first linear origin story since 2015’s Ant-Man, places to mattress any concern followers may need had a few drop off in Section IV of the sprawling Marvel Cinematic Universe.

I’ve stated it earlier than and I’ll say it once more: the MCU is the single-most constantly profitable creation in Hollywood historical past. No different sequence or franchise has loved the identical uninterrupted string of important and business victories. 13 years, 24 characteristic movies, $23 billion on the worldwide field workplace and the superhero style’s first-ever Greatest Image nomination. It’s like Mount Olympus and Mount Rushmore mixed forces for pedestal supremacy.

But after the decade-in-the-making Infinity Saga culminated in Avengers: Endgame, the highest-grossing movie of all time, a resetting of expectations was the one logical subsequent step. Not each title might be a billion greenback grosser or an Oscar nominee. As we moved away from Iron Man, Captain America and the opposite founding members of the MCU, it’s solely pure that curiosity would wane for brand spanking new characters. Momentum is a finite useful resource.

However Shang-Chi is shockingly good, emphasizing a deep dedication to themes of household and inherited legacy, whereas additionally maybe being the funniest Marvel film since 2017’s Thor: Ragnarok (Awkwafina is a scene-stealer begin to end). Steeped in martial arts and mysticism, it boasts the most effective battle choreography this aspect of Captain America: The Winter Soldier and Daredevil. Marvel’s pedestrian motion sequences can typically go away you ready impatiently for the following quip to be fired. However like Taika Waititi and Ryan Coogler earlier than him, director Destin Daniel Cretton infuses the set items with an actual sense of fashion and fluidity (although Shang-Chi is affected by some shoddy CGI). Star Simu Liu provides Marvel a homegrown non-powered human ass-kicker that must be trotted out for punch ’em ups frequently beginning now.

Refreshingly, Shang-Chi permits its characters to be flawed and conceal shameful secrets and techniques with out bending over backwards to repair our heroes or ameliorate their errors. It additionally options the one weirdest third-act climax in Marvel historical past. In a sea of sameness, this critic revered a swing-for-the-fences transfer within the pursuit of one thing new, nevertheless it’s positive to lose sure viewers.

The script doesn’t do Shang-Chi the character many favors, doling out the most effective traces and bits to his surrounding compatriots. However by doing that, it additionally makes use of the character as Marvel’s greatest viewers surrogate in current reminiscence. There’s a hilarious dynamic to be additional mined from Liu’s bewildered badass enjoying towards different acquainted MCU heroes used to the day by day grind of irregular shenanigans.

Marvel Shang-Chi Disney+ Box Office
Shang-Chi (Simu Liu) in Marvel Studios’ Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings. Jasin Boland. ©Marvel Studios 2021.

Most significantly, Shang-Chi continues to defy expectations for Marvel. It closes out an unofficial trilogy of groundbreaking new solo lead movies that started with Black Panther, a touchstone of blockbuster illustration with a predominately African American forged, and continued with Captain Marvel, the MCU’s first female-led superhero title. Shang-Chi is Marvel’s first Asian-led movie. Past the much-needed infusion of range, it helps show Marvel’s knack for character and world-building. Simply once we thought momentum would possibly slip with core characters threatening to overstay their welcome, the MCU crafts a compelling new hero that corporations the assist beams of the long run.

Very like serialized tv, it’s tough to introduce new characters after a pair seasons in and earn the identical degree of viewers affection and significant acclaim that the originals accrued. But Marvel retains rolling out profitable new iterations of our hero archetype, every with their very own distinctive backstory and characterization. As an alternative of rising stale with its fixed self-reference and inward exploration, the MCU manages to twist and recreate that dynamic by balancing it on the sting of a brand new character that brings one thing recent to the franchise. On this case, the mysticism of Shang-Chi guarantees additional inviting adventures that may intersect with different corners of the sequence in thrilling methods.

Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings isn’t only a good film (it’s). It’s a thesis assertion for the post-Infinity Saga Marvel universe. So long as new would-be franchise-starters could be this artistic and entertaining, we’d like not fear about Section IV and past.