Shang-Chi and The Legend of the The Return to Theaters

Shang Chi has hit theaters. 

Courtesy of Comicbook

Shang Chi has hit theaters. 

Matthew Gaetano

Over the past year, there has been no shortage of Marvel content, with series like “WandaVision,” “The Falcon and The Winter Soldier,” “Loki” and the currently running “What If?” giving fans something to watch practically every week. When considered in addition to the already-released “Black Widow,” as well as the surplus of content yet to come, Marvel is increasingly becoming a contributor to the ever growing problem of superhero-fatigue. However, regardless of one’s stance on the current saturation of superhero films, the latest installment in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, “Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings,” is a special one that marks the long awaited return of the MCU to theaters. Specifically, the movie, which is directed by Destin Daniel Cretton, offers viewers their first chance to see a widely released Marvel film since “Spider-Man: Far from Home” in 2019. Though this is the case, the question remains, is the movie worth going to theaters to see?

“Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings,” or just “Shang-Chi” for short, is the story of the titular Shang-Chi (Simu Liu) facing off against the menace of the terrorist organization Ten Rings. Without delving too far into spoiler-territory, Shang-Chi gets caught up in a fair amount of family drama along the way and must ultimately defend Ta Lo, the mystical birth place of his mother (Fala Chen) from The Ten Rings and its leader, Wenwu (Tony Leung). Helping Shang-Chi along the way is his sister, Xu Xialing (Meng’er Zhang) and his best friend (as well as the movie’s comedic relief), Katy (Awkwafina). The film also sees the return of some familiar faces from the MCU’s past and, as a story overall, the movie is very much in line with the past Marvel heroes’ origin films.

Still, while “Shang-Chi” is certainly a product of the tried-and-true Marvel formula, it does have a few areas of unique variation. Among these differences are most notably an emphasis on hand-to-hand action sequences and a more comedic tone brought on by the quippy jokes that Marvel has become known for. Also contributing to this lighter comedic style are Liu and Awkwafina’s portrayals of Shang-Chi and Katy, who portray their respective characters with eccentric but fairly believable millenial/Gen-Z charm. 

Longtime fans of the MCU are sure to have an enjoyable time watching the debut of Marvel’s latest superhero. Throughout its duration, the film connects subtly, and sometimes less so, to past Marvel films, and retcons one of the MCU’s most controversial creative decisions. This, coupled with the two post-credit scenes boasted by the film, should be enough to make the movie worthwhile for any dedicated MCU viewer. To newcomers, the film, being an origin story set at the beginning of a new era for the MCU, is a great jumping on point with a lot to keep audiences entertained. The only audience that is less than likely to enjoy the film consists of those who have become embittered by the MCU and film buffs who are looking for a stroke of artistic genius. You will not find it here. “Shang-Chi” is a film that is best enjoyed with popcorn in hand and surrounded by the company of friends. So, if you’ve been looking for an excuse to get back to the movie theater, “Shang-Chi” is the movie for you.