Asian-led ‘Shang-Chi’ battles for glory in Marvel’s film universe

FILE PHOTO: A health worker rests inside a booth as she conducts a coronavirus disease (COVID-19) test at a coronavirus testing site in Seoul
FILE PHOTO: A health worker rests inside a booth as she conducts a coronavirus disease (COVID-19) test at a coronavirus testing site in Seoul, South Korea, July 15, 2021. REUTERS/Kim Hong-Ji/File Photo

September 2, 2021

By Alicia Powell

NEW YORK (Reuters) – Marvel’s next big-screen superhero spectacle, “Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings,” opens Friday, aiming to thrill audiences while breaking Hollywood barriers with a predominantly Asian cast.

The movie’s stars said the film follows the path blazed by “Black Panther,” the 2018 Marvel Studios movies starring the late Chadwick Boseman and a predominantly African-American cast that became a global blockbuster. Walt Disney Co is sending “Shang-Chi” exclusively to theaters.

    “I think ‘Black Panther’ paved the way for a movie like ‘Shang-Chi’ to exist,” said star Simu Liu, who plays the title character. “If that movie weren’t as incredible and as successful as it was, we would not be in a position where we have a movie with a… predominantly Asian cast.”

He said “Shang-Chi” features “so many badass Asian heroes and heroines, each with their own perspective, each with their entry point to the story and their own set of motivations and dimensionality.”

“That’s what’s critically important,” Liu added. “That’s what good representation is.”

At the start of the movie, Shang-Chi is living an unassuming life as Shawn in San Francisco when he is drawn into battle on a bus that careens through the city’s streets. The event forces him to head back home to Macau and confront his past and the mysterious Ten Rings organization.

Awkwafina co-stars as Shang-Chi’s close friend Katy and Hong Kong acting legend Tony Leung as his father.

Critics have applauded the film, which earned a 92% positive rating among reviews collected on the Rotten Tomatoes website.

“A movie like this would have blown my mind as a kid,” said director Destin Daniel Cretton. “To be able to watch characters like this who look like me and have personalities similar to my friends, and dress like me and listen to the same kind of music. And then watch them go on this crazy journey to take them to superhuman levels.”

(Reporting by Alicia Powell in New York; Writing by Lisa Richwine; Editing by Rosalba O’Brien)