‘Ten Rings’ A Marvel in a Diverse Universe

Movie’s Success Shows Representation Matters


By Miguel Jose Maninang

The success of Marvel’s latest blockbuster release, “Shang Chi: Legend of the Ten Rings” highlights Asian and Asian-American diversity and culture.

The fictional plot of “Shang-Chi” picks up where “Avengers: Endgame” left off within the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU). Similar to the “Spider-Man: Far From Home,” the movie gives a glimpse of what the world is now like after “the blip.” The movie centers around Shang-Chi (played by Simu Liu), a seemingly normal man who works as a valet with his best friend Katy (played by Awkwagina). However, Shang-Chi’s facade cannot last forever. He must confront his familial past with both of his parents being martial arts masters. Specifically, his late mother (played by Fala Chen) is from an alternate world, and his father, the Mandarin (played by Tony Leung), is the leader of the secret Ten Rings group, who abused Shang-Chi with intense martial arts training. The Mandarin ruthfully seeks him out and any clues to ultimately find out what really happened to Shang-Chi’s dead mother. 

The real world “Shang-Chi” movie’s success picks up where 2018’s “Crazy Rich Asians” left off virtually printing money. The movie has accumulated a whooping $170 million internationally after its opening weekend and is now grossing $360 million in the box office, beating the other recent Marvel movie “Black Widow.”“Shang-Chi” has shown popular films and movies will still gain profits even amidst a pandemic. This success will only encourage and green light more films to come out soon.

Getting back to the film, “Shang Chi” showcases some amazing action scenes. What’s even more amazing is how hard the actors had worked to make it look so easy. According to previous interviews, Meng’er Zhang, who played Xialing, the determined sister of Simu Liu’s Shang Chi, had no martial arts experience before making “Shang Chi,” which makes the fights even more incredible and impressive. Furthermore, the choreography resembles that of another iconic Asian film “Kung Fu Hustle” where the environment plays a big role in the fights and never fails to disappoint. 2

True to the Marvel formula, the movie has trademark MCU comical humor with Awkwafina, who is without her controversial African American vernacular or “blaccent.” Maybe it’s missing because she was playing a different character. Or maybe she learned from her mistakes? Do we still let people learn from their mistakes before canceling them?

As an Asian-American, the representation of this movie is very comforting. Seeing someone who looks like you on the big screen is welcoming. Still, I do have a grievance about elevating Shang-Chi as a “cultural” superhero. His main set of skills are stereotypically martial arts. There are examples of how to avoid this martial arts stereotype like Amazon Prime’s “Invincible,” also based on a graphic novel, which features an Asian protagonist with “Superman”-like powers. Despite this nitpicky take, Shang Chi still blends a very exciting representation of the Asian community.

The films humor only adds to the story’s broader themes of family and healing. I’d give the movie 9 out of 10 Spartan Stars.