“Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings” is the first Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) to have an Asian superhero inspired by Chinese folklore and martial arts. It is directed by Destin Daniel Cretton, a Japanese American filmmaker and Chinese-American screenwriter, Dave Callahna. Shang-Chi is played by Simu Liu, known for his role as Jung in “Kim’s Convenience.” Shang-Chi is a martial artist and an assassin for his father in the ten rings organization. His father wears the ten rings which give immortality and godly powers to whoever possesses them. He escapes and tries to live a discreet life as a valet in San Francisco, but he gets dragged back into the organization when his father summons him. He must find the strength within to help save the world from darkness. The movie touches on the importance of family, consequences of the past and the power of forgiveness.
Released on September 3, 2021, the movie has been an instant success. Garnering $71.4 million at the North American box office during Labor Day weekend, it broke the previous record of $30.6 million. As it was released in theaters only, the CEO of Disney, Bob Chapek, said the release was going to be an “interesting experiment” in lieu of the pandemic, it not being released on Disney+ immediately and premiering on a notoriously low turnout weekend for theaters. These words, however, did not come across in such a manner. The MCU has a notorious reputation for a lack of diversity and using this monumental moment in cinematic history as an “experiment,” reflects a deep absence of understanding the importance of having representation in mainstream media. Another controversy among viewers in anticipation of the movie was the astute observation that there was less marketing and advertising in comparison to other Marvel movies. Simu Liu, the lead portraying Shang-Chi, ended up promoting the movie himself through his personal social media accounts.
It is important to acknowledge the need for representation in Hollywood. Hollywood inserts unpleasant and offensive stereotypes of Asians in mainstream media. The lack of representation is detrimental to individuals and shapes how minorities are viewed by society and ultimately results in how they view themselves. “Shang-Chi” is important because it helps to correct stereotypes of East Asian characters in Western media. This movie is meaningful to me personally because I never truly saw representation growing up. I rarely saw people that looked like me on the television. I felt truly empowered after watching “Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings.” It is refreshing to know that audiences are clearly demanding diversity from Hollywood and I am hopeful they will comply. Liu phrases it best,“We are not an experiment. We are the underdog; the underestimated. We are the ceiling-breakers. We are the celebration of culture and joy that will persevere after an embattled year. We are the surprise.”