Shang Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings is a vibrant and epic cinematic event the likes of which we haven’t seen since the original Iron Man. The introduction of Shang Chi into the MCU represents a pivot for Marvel as they begin to blaze a path forward into this new phase of storytelling for the studio. The multiverse, the slow and steady integration of mutants, and now the integration of a legendary hero which represents so much more to the Asian community are all part of this windy path that began post-Avengers: Endgame. During the global press conference for Shang Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings, much ground was covered but here are five takeaways from that event.
5. The Director’s Past Impacted His Approach
During the Global event, director Destin Daniel Cretton revealed that before he went into filmmaking, he use to be a social worker and described how that impacted him. He stated “I mean that job affected my entire life, my world view. I feel like the stories that I am drawn to are a combination of humor, optimism but also not shying away from the very real darkness and that pain that we all experience as humans.” Hearing this was illuminating as part of what made his film so special was how human it felt. Yes, the special effects were cool. Yes, the fight sequences were insane. However, all of that can only take a film so far. It’s that connection with the audience which elevates the final product. Watching this film brought back that same feeling I had when I saw Iron Man.
4. Sometimes, Great Writing Is All You Need
One of the biggest surprises in the film was the return of Sir Ben Kingsley in the role he originally played in Iron Man 3. While many thought Trevor had certainly met his maker at this point, we find out that it was Destin’s story that brought him back to play this role. Kingsley states, ” I think that this story because it’s so beautifully told and so rich, will ultimately be healing because it’s not propaganda. It’s just a really beautiful story, that’s what drew me back in.” Writing is certainly one of the strongest selling points of Shang Chi.
3. Bringing Awkwafina Into the MCU Was a Stroke Of Genius
Bringing Awkwafina into the MCU adds a dimension to this and future films which is hard to replicate. Not only is she naturally hysterical, but Awkwafina also has this raw physicality that allows her to sell those action sequences with such ease. When asked if this was her most physically demanding role, she replied ” No, I think it was. Well, I was more like falling so it’s more like I was working as a team with gravity. It’s me… I’m the problem, you know. I just don’t have the kind of willpower to lift it up. So, that’s where I’m at physically.” Simu Liu and Awkwafina do have tremendous chemistry in the film.
Everyone on set seemingly understood the significance of this character and what it meant to the Asian American community. It did seem that the burden weighed the heaviest of Simu Liu. Liu stated ” My nerves were sky high. I was an actor from Toronto, and I really had never allowed myself to imagine being a part of the MCU. I mean, it’s the craziest dream that someone can possibly dream and Nora did such a great job of putting me at ease and being in the moment with me. It seems the weight of what this role meant to a large part of the world was at least tolerable because of the chemistry these two leads possessed.
1. Perception vs. Reality
A large part of the build-up to Shang Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings was how Simu Liu seemingly got the attention of the brass at Marvel by tweeting them about the film just after it was announced. The perception was that somehow his constant campaign to get the lead in the film played in role in his eventual casting. Well, Kevin Feige addressed that towards the end of our press conference when he stated “Unfortunately Simu, it was not your tweeting. It was your acting ability, your constant professionalism, and then multiple reads and meetings that you did that got you the job.” While the idea of Mr. Liu catching Marvel’s attention with a tweet is a lovely tale, Feige and his team are very calculated in how they approach the MCU.
Shang Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings is currently playing exclusively in theaters from Marvel Studios and Walt Disney Pictures.
Photo by Jasin Boland/Marvel Studios