Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings premiered on Thursday 2 September. Currently, it holds a $71.5 million opening weekend box office, beating the current record for Labour Day weekend releases in the US. It also holds a 98% audience score and 92% critic score on Rotten Tomatoes, making it one of the highest-rated Marvel movies. Needless to say, Shang-Chi entered the MCU with a bang, shattering cultural barriers in a huge win for Asian representation. But how does Shang-Chi fit into the MCU, here’s our review?
SPOILERS: Warning there are spoilers ahead.
Shang-Chi introduces a couple of new faces into the MCU. Outside of the Disney Plus TV Shows, this is the first film to take place in Phase Four post-blip. This is also the first Marvel origin story since Captain Marvel in 2019. The film adds a freshness to the MCU that we haven’t seen in a long time.
Of course, there is the titular character Shang-Chi, played by Simu Liu. His powers/skill-set is based primarily on the two different martial-arts style training he received from his parents. Trained to be an assassin by his father, and then taught his mother’s magic style of fighting, he’s a combination of both traditional martial arts and the supernatural. And then there’s his possession of the ten rings by the end of the film, adding a whole new element with a mysterious and very old power around his wrists.
He’s accompanied by his best friend Katy, played by Awkwafina, who is thrust into this world somewhat haphazardly. By the end of the film she begins training as an archer in Ta-Lo, the magical village Shang-Chi’s mother hails from. In the first post-credit scene, both Katy and Shang-Chi are welcomed to the Avengers.
And then there’s Shang-Chi’s sister Xialing, who runs an underground fighting ring. But in the second post-credit scene, we see her take control of her father’s criminal empire, aptly titled The Ten Rings. It’s a little unclear what role Xialing will take in the future; whether or not she will be the antagonist in the sequel or an anti-hero ally is left up in the air.
Now it being a Marvel movie, a few cameos are expected. But the cameos we got were unique and unexpected
Wong, played by Benedict Wong, makes an appearance battling Abomination in Xialing’s fight ring. Abomination hasn’t been seen since 2008’s The Hulk. The producer of Shang Chi, Jonathan Schwartz, told ComicBook.com that “there will be more Abomination to come.” Most likely in 2022’s Disney Plus show She-Hulk.
Wong also appears at the end of the film and in the post-credit scene. It seems that he’s vetting new heroes and technology as a pseudo-recruiter for the Avengers. He and Doctor Strange’s role is to protect Earth from cosmic threats, so it makes sense that Wong is keeping tabs on characters like Abomination and Shang-Chi. He plays a role almost akin to Nick Fury in early MCU films.
The most unexpected cameo in this film, but, is Iron Man 3’s Trevor Slattery, played by Ben Kingsley. Trevor was a drug-addicted actor in Iron Man 3 who was hired to play the role of a terrorist known as the Mandarin. He was a scapegoat and cover for domestic terrorists in the film. Shang-Chi’s father Wenwu, played by Tony Leung, is the actual Mandarin. As punishment for his unflattering portrayal of him, Trevor is now sober and imprisoned in Wenwu’s compound. He makes friends with a supernatural creature from Ta-Lo, and the pair lead Shang-Chi to the mythical village. He’s definitely one of the biggest comedic reliefs in the film and had a delightful return to the MCU.
The EndGame problem
Now a huge problem the MCU has written itself into is the End Game problem. Things happening in the MCU are now happening after a huge event; The Blip. It asks the question, were these new characters blipped? And why didn’t they help fight Thanos?
This movie does not answer either of these questions. We have no idea if Shang-Chi and the company were blipped or not. Now the only people who would possibly make a difference in the fight against Thanos at the time were Wenwu and Ta-Lo. Wenwu is typically pretty immoral, but if you were facing annihilation, you might want to join the fight. The only logical explanation for Ta-Lo’s non-presence would be that they must not have known about the fight.
Now the MCU doesn’t necessarily have to answer that question for every new character. But when you have a massive event like Thanos, and then introduce powerful new protagonists, it is a little questionable. Shang-Chi barely addresses the Blip or Thanos at all.
Questions going forward
In the first post-credit scene, we see Shang-Chi discuss the ten rings with Captain Marvel and Bruce Banner. Captain Marvel’s hair is long again, and Bruce is not hulked up. It seemed like in End Game that Bruce was now the Hulk full-time; that the two had merged. But in his appearance in Shang-Chi, not only is he just Bruce but his arm is broken. This begs the question; how much time has passed between End Game and Shang-Chi? Why isn’t Bruce the Hulk anymore? What has he been up to, that his arm is now broken?
In terms of the general timeline, things are… unclear. The appearances of Captain Marvel and Bruce suggest that a good amount of time has passed, but WandaVision happens almost immediately after End Game. We still don’t know what the big bad is going to be for the next overall arc for the MCU, but we know for sure that it will deal with the multiverse. We’ve seen WandaVision, Loki, and supposedly the trailer for Spider-Man: No Way Home break the multiverse. So in terms of where Shang-Chi takes place in regards to all three of those major events, things are very unclear. Maybe Wanda’s actions in WandaVision were not as significant as we previously thought.
The ten rings are also sending out a signal. The movie never confirms where they came from. Wong, Carol, and Bruce seem to have no idea. So who are the rings calling out to?
The most common theory is the Eternals. The Eternals is the next movie, so it would make sense to set them up. They’ve also been on Earth since the beginning of time, and have highly advanced, very old technology. It’s possible that the rings came from them, and are either calling to them or the Celestials (the Eternals creators).
Overall, Shang-Chi is a fabulous addition to the MCU. Just when it seems that the MCU might tire out their formula or run out of steam, they continue to stun with their new content. Shang-Chi solidifies that the future of the MCU is bright.
CULTURE CROSSING SCORE 8/10
Thank you for reading our review of Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings. Do you agree or disagree with our points or have anything to add? If so, leave us a comment below.
Read our thoughts on the Spider-Man: No Way Home trailer HERE.
Check out iMDB information on Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings HERE
9 Bands You Forgot Played Themselves In Movies
There are more bands than you think that played themselves on the big screen. Here are nine bands you might’ve forgotten appeared in movies.
1. Alice Cooper – Wayne’s World (1992)
Being a teenager in the nineties was great for many reasons. Two of those being the release of the Wayne’s World movies. The genius that is Mike Myers created one of the best music-based films of all time. Plus, he convinced one of the greatest rock musicians of all time to be in it. If you’re not a geek like me, you may have forgotten that Alice Cooper was featured in the film. It had the iconic scene of Wayne and Garth meeting, Alice, backstage on bent knees. We’re not worthy, indeed. Alice himself pulls off the diva Rockstar brilliantly, even though he’s a genuine, down-to-earth guy who plays a lot of golf.
2. Primus – Bill & Ted’s Bogus Journey (1991)
Let’s try and erase the recent Bill & Ted movie from our memory and head back to 1991 for their bogus journey. They come from the future to kill the non-robot versions of themselves and ruin their performance at a Battle of the Bands competition. What’s cool is the band who are playing before them. Californian alt-metal kings Primus. Although the clip is only short, they play themselves and sound as you would expect. Epic.
3. Fall Out Boy – Sex Drive (2008)
You’d be forgiven for forgetting about this one. The teen sex comedy from 2008 is forgettable and won’t really appeal to anyone apart from its teen target audience. If you can sit through all the cringe-inducing moments, you will spot pop-rockers Fall Out Boy. They are performing in a barn in front of some drunk Amish teenagers. There’s a reason for that, but I won’t bore you with it here. What is good, is the soundtrack of the film. As well as Fall Out Boy, it features Airbourne, AC/DC and weirdly, Kenny Loggins.
4. Twisted Sister – Pee Wee’s Big Adventure (1985)
Paul Reuben’s character Pee Wee Herman made his big-screen outing in 1985. The children’s show star had a scene where he is being chased through a studio parking lot. Unbeknown to him, glam rockers Twisted Sister are recording a music video on a car. Lead singer Dee Snider is always up for a laugh, so it’s no surprise they’re featured. The clip is brilliant. Pee Wee’s prop-laden bike is just about to crash into Twisted Sister and the look on Dee’s face is genius. Go check out the clip.
5. David Bowie – Zoolander (2001)
Who can forget the brilliant Zoolander? Starring Ben Stiller as the dippy model, it’s one of the funniest comedies ever made. One of the best scenes of the film is the walk-off. This involved Ben Stiller and Owen Wilson’s characters doing a catwalk-off. Of sorts. Can you remember who refereed it? The legend himself, David Bowie. It’s not the first time Bowie was in a movie – remember Labyrinth? But this time, he plays himself. And does it with all the cool swagger you would expect.
6. The Mighty Mighty Bosstones – Clueless (1995)
I can’t say that I was a massive fan of this teen comedy at the time. The plot revolves around Alicia Silverstone’s character giving her friend a makeover. The premise doesn’t sound like it lends itself to a cool band cameo. You’d be wrong, though. There’s a scene where the lead characters go watch a gig. The band that are playing are The Mighty Mighty Bosstones. The Boston ska-punk legends are only on stage for a moment, but it’s a slick clip. It certainly brings the film up a level on the cool stakes.
7. Daft Punk – Tron: Legacy (2010)
This sequel to the original sci-fi classic is a cracking movie. The visuals and effects are stunning, as is the atmosphere of the film. The music to the film is also rather special. A futuristic and dystopian movie could only have one act doing the score, and that’s Daft Punk. It works a treat. The music is intertwined into the movie and becomes a part of it. The delicious electronica is the perfect complement to the visuals. The French electronic masters also have a cameo at the end of the movie. They’re spinning the decks in a blink-and-you-miss-it scene.
8. Aerosmith – Wayne’s World (1993)
We’ve already had an appearance from the first film further up our list, and the second doesn’t disappoint either. The plot revolves around Wayne and Garth putting on their own music festival. Book them and they will come, is the advice given. And they certainly did. The headline band for the festival were none other than Aerosmith themselves. They do a sterling effort on stage as performers. And Steven Tyler also shows that he can handle his own on the acting front too.
9. Reel Big Fish – BASEketball (1998)
Trey Parker and Matt Stone star in this bizarre and hilarious sports comedy. Written by the king of spoof David Zucker, it’s become a cult classic. The soundtrack heavily features ska-punkers Reel Big Fish. They do a brilliant rendition of A-HA’s Take on Me, which they also perform in the movie. The band are the entertainment at the stadium where Parker and Stone are competing. You can tell by the footage that the band are clearly enjoying themselves. They add a touch more fun to an already hugely funny film.
That’s our list of nine bands who played themselves in movies. Did we miss any of your favourites? Let us know in the comments below.
Check out our list of actors in bands HERE.
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