“Shang-Chi” Breaks Records and Stereotypes

Star+of+%22Shang-Chi%2C%22+Simu+Liu+on+the+red+carpet+at+the+movie%27s+premiere

Courtesy of AP Images

Star of “Shang-Chi,” Simu Liu on the red carpet at the movie’s premiere

Logan Roever, Staff Writer

Marvel’s latest film “Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings,” released last Friday, is making strides to diversify the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

“Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings” follows Shang-Chi, who is working as a parking valet named “Shaun” in San Francisco until he is sucked back into the world of his childhood and his father, Wenwu.  His father possesses ten rings that give him immortality and nearly limitless power, and he trained Shang-Chi from childhood to be a fearsome martial arts warrior. 

The film made an estimated $94.7 million in the box office during its debut weekend, according to IMDb. This is especially impressive given that it was released over Labor Day weekend, which, according to the LA Times, is a historically slow weekend in the film industry because it lands at the end of summer. The previous record for a Labor Day weekend debut was $30.6 million, less than half of “Shang-Chi.”

Directed by Destin Daniel Cretton, the film stars Simu Liu as the title character with comedian Awkwafina and veteran actor Tony Leung rounding out the cast. Notably, the film features a cast and crew that is mostly Asian. 

Shang-Chi is the first Asian superhero in the MCU. He joins three other Marvel heroes with their own movies that are not white men.

With the pressure of making Marvel’s first Asian superhero film, the crew worked to make the details of the film convey Shang-Chi’s Chinese culture. Production designer Sue Chan said in an interview with Variety that they used influences from China’s Tang and Song dynasties to create their sets. Though, Chan said they remained “cognizant of being respectful and responsible about the way we conveyed Chinese culture.” 

Director Cretton also put effort into telling the story of Shang-Chi in a respectful way, especially when the character’s comic origins are problematic.

Shang-Chi’s first comic appearance was written in the 1970s during the height of kung fu movies, popularized by actor Jackie Chan. And his father Wenwu was originally given a racist stereotypical name.

Cretton wanted to transform Shang-Chi into a character that can be a role model for movie-goers and young Asian-Americans. In an interview with CNN, Cretton said that he wanted to create the Asian hero in media that he never had growing up. 

“I could have really used a hero like this,” Cretton said.

“Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings” set a new precedent in breaking Asian stereotypes in film, now it’s up to the rest of the industry to follow suit.