When Marvel announced they were developing a Shang-Chi movie, comic book fans were a bit surprised. Unlike most of the characters featured in Marvel films before, Shang-Chi doesn’t have a strong comic lineage to draw from.
The character was created in the 1970s, inspired by Bruce Lee and the mystical Asian martial artist trope. He has seldom been used since. So, for this first appearance in the Marvel Cinematic Universe the screenwriters Dave Callaham, Destin Daniel Cretton (who also directed the film) and Andrew Lanham completely reinvented the character, giving him a new origin story as the son of the powerful villain The Mandarin or as he’s known in the film Wenwu, the leader of the Ten Rings organization. Shang-Chi also given a more complex personality as someone torn between his past and his future, his mother’s heritage and the burden of his father’s past.
After spending a decade running from his past, Shang-Chi must face his demons and stop his father from using the mysterious Ten Rings to awaken dark forces in this movie that pays homage kung-fu movies while giving the MCU some of its best action sequences to date.
Thanks to Simu Liu’s brilliant performance as he effortlessly goes from comedy to action, his incredible on-screen chemistry with Awkwafina (who plays sidekick Katy, and who makes us hope that the two actors are real-life friends) and action scenes worthy of cinema’s greatest martial arts classics, Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings stands on its own while providing a worthy beginning to Phase 4 of the MCU.