It's about time. Marvel's first-ever Asian-led film, is out now, but things are a bit different from 2021's other MCU movie, . Instead of streaming on Disney Plus, Shang-Chi is only in theaters, and with the delta variant still causing pandemic disruption, that has some moviegoers nervous. Here's what to know about the movie and how to see it.,
Who is Shang-Chi?
The character, a master of unarmed combat, first appeared in Marvel comics in 1973, when the ABC TV drama Kung Fu, starring David Carradine, was popular. Shang-Chi was born the son of supervillain Fu Manchu but later opposed his father's ways. In 2013, he joined The Avengers. He's also been affiliated with the Heroes for Hire but is often simply a lone-wolf character.
His main power wasn't really a traditional superpower. Instead, he had the ability to master forms of combat, earning the nickname the Master of Kung Fu. In later years, though, he did gain the power to replicate himself, which could come in handy.
Who's starring in and making the film?
- Simu Liu plays the main character, Shang-Chi.
- Tony Leung Chiu-wai plays Wenwu/The Mandarin, Shang-Chi's father.
- Awkwafina, the rapper and actress, plays Katy, a hotel valet and Shang-Chi's close friend, who's unaware of his past.
- Florian Munteanu plays Razor Fist, who has steel blades for hands.
- Meng'er Zhang plays Xialing: Shang-Chi's estranged sister.
- Fala Chen plays Jiang Li.
- Benedict Wong plays Wong: A Master of the Mystic Arts, previously seen in other Marvel films.
- Michelle Yeoh plays Jiang Nan, a guardian of a mythical city.
- Destin Daniel Cretton is the director.
- David Callaham is the screenwriter.
What's the release date?
The film came out Friday, Sept. 3, 2021, after being moved from February 2021 due to the pandemic.
How to watch it
Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings is in theaters now, and stays on the big screen exclusively for 45 days. So if you want to watch the film at home, you'll need to wait until its run in theaters is over, when the film will become available on Disney Plus some time in mid-October. The DVD and Blu-ray home release will probably follow.
This may disappoint some viewers whowith the coronavirus delta variant surging. Marvel's last film, , which came out in July, was available not just in cinemas, but on Disney Plus if subscribers were willing to fork over a premium fee of $30 in addition to their subscription cost. Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings isn't offering that at-home option right away.
Is there a post-credits scene?
Yes. In fact, there are two. Find out more about the Marvel cameos and sequel hints in.
Reviews and reactions
CNET film critic, "Shang-Chi comes with Marvel strengths and weaknesses while also feeling like something winningly new."
He goes on to say that the film is "visually and narratively distinct from the rest of the franchise. Shang-Chi is Marvel's first Asian lead, and the style of the film draws on the rich history of Asian cinema, from martial arts movies to gangster films to romance, and in particular the lush visual and emotional style of wuxia epics."
It's full of action, engaging characters and Marvel's trademark humor, Trenholm says.
CNET's: "Built on a framework telling the story of one family's reckoning with grief, it layers on action and humor while playfully blending genres, for the best kind of summer popcorn flick."
But as both Solsman and Trenholm point out, it's hard to celebrate this groundbreaking movie when its initial launch is theaters-only at a time when coronavirus numbers are rising. The movie may be great, but its distribution seems questionable at best.
What's in the trailers?
The first official trailer came out in June, and focuses heavily on the relationship between Shang-Chi and his father. Wenwu is seen telling a young Shang-Chi about the family's relationship with the Ten Rings, and that he must prove himself worthy. Later, he says that he told his men they couldn't kill Shang-Chi even if they tried, and he's glad he was right, while Shang-Chi dismisses his dad as "just a criminal who murders people." Just as with Luke Skywalker and Darth Vader, things lead up to a big father-son battle.
Lights, camera, action
A second trailer, out in July, briefly brings in rapper Awkwafina, who plays Katy, Shang-Chi's friend, before rehashing the father-son conflict that's such a big part of the film. Bus fights, car chases, helicopters, underwater battles, scenic cities at night -- the action-film cliches all show up.
What else do we know?
Who's your daddy?
Shang-Chi's dad in the comics is Fu Manchu, a character who's also been associated with racial stereotypes. Marvel Studios doesn't have the film rights for that character, and doubtless doesn't want to dredge up the racist issues he brings. So for this film, Shang-Chi's father is The Mandarin, a known Marvel supervillain, and the leader of the Ten Rings. He'll be played by Tony Leung Chiu-wai.
"I think [Leung] brings a humanity that we need for that character," director Destin Daniel Cretton told Observer. "We are not looking to contribute anymore to the Asian stereotypes that we have seen both in cinema and pop culture. We're hoping to just show some different sides to both Asian-Americans and Chinese-Americans and mainland Chinese characters. Tommy is such an incredible actor and I'm excited to have him help us break some of those stereotypes because that villain could easily become a punchline."
What's with the Ten Rings?
The Ten Rings is the once-dormant international terrorist group that kidnaps Tony Stark in the first Iron Man movie. It's while being held captive by the Ten Rings that Stark builds his first Iron Man suit. In addition to The Mandarin, past members include Jackson Norriss, cybercriminal Cordo Gaines and the deceased Raza.
Also, in the film's first trailer, Wenwu tells his son, Shang-Chi, that "throughout my life, the Ten Rings gave our family power," and the rings are shown as actual, physical bracelets with eerie lights and some kind of superpower.
The ending of the movie draws on Chinese myth and martial arts philosophy without spelling things out explicitly. Here's(spoilers!) and how it's driven by Shang-Chi's newfound connection to his roots.