You can forget Black Widow as a bit of a mundane blip in the Marvel matrix. Marvel Chief Kevin Feige alongside filmmaker Destin Daniel Cretton has introduced the latest superhero into their vast empire with a seismic blast that will have you transfixed for its entirety.
Having been created in the ’70s Shang-Chi has been giving a much-needed update, one that sees the birth of Shaun aka Shang-Chi’s (Simu Liu) baptism of fire into the MCU. Living a quiet life as a valet alongside his best friend Katy (Awkwafina) it soon comes to pass that he has a deep dark secret after a group of martial arts fiends hijack a bus they are travelling on resulting in a few martial arts skills, not only to fend them off but save the bus and its passengers from a tragic end.
Via numerous flashbacks to his childhood, it’s revealed that Shang-Chi is the child of the film’s supposed villain Xu Wenwu (Tony Leung). Trained since childhood by the mysterious Ten Rings organization whilst his sister Xialing (Meng’er Zhang) watches from the shadows, Shang-Chi must confront the past he thought he left behind when he is drawn back into his father’s web.
Steeped in magical mysticism, co-writers Cretton, Dave Callaham and Andrew Lanham have added a whole layer of depth to the story that you wouldn’t normally expect from a superhero movie. Shang-Chi is made to face his own past issues head-on as he begins to evolve through the personal growth of self-acceptance and self-esteem as he comes to terms with the person he is. We also have to raise the question, is the villain really the villain and could Xialing be a potential dark horse?
Whilst this may be a new entry into the MCU, elements of the story have its connections back to 2008 when the shadowy Ten Rings organization surfaced to kidnap Tony Stark in the first Iron Man film. If you are also wondering, why the hell a certain Knight of the British Empire is in this too, cast your minds back to 2013 and Iron Man 3 where he was connected to the leader of the Ten Rings and made to impersonate him and promote his agenda. Its future connection to the MCU as a whole could well come from Doctor Strange’s very own Wong, played by Benedict Wong who also makes a short guest appearance, maybe acting as Shang-Chi’s future mentor!
With each and every fight sequence comes a precise and elegantly performed segment of breathtaking skill, engulfing in an almost dizzying sense of awe. Pair that with such visually spectacular CGI bringing to life the more mystical elements, it comes close to beating out anything else we have witnessed before in the MCU.
The first Asian superhero to enter the MCU leads a vast, multifaceted maze of complex relationships, pitch-perfect martial arts, mesmerising storytelling and explosive visuals, compelling to the point of insanity. This is one mystical Marvel masterpiece you will want to see time and again.
Shang-Chi: The Legend of the Ten Rings hits cinemas on September 3rd.