Am I late? Sure. Do I care? No, because there are things to unpack especially since Spider-Man is around the corner!
First question: Did Shang-Chi turn into Chinese Lord of the Rings for anyone else? Just me? OK. And I’m talking about the last battle with the dragons and the village of people. Not the rings.
Second thing to tackle. I think Marvel has found its groove with familial origin stories. Shang-Chi is much like Black Panther and it was brilliantly done. Movies like these require a delicate balance between explaining tradition and executing a superhero movie. I did not do that well in history, but I love to learn and the information we learn about the tradition of these worlds that have been created in these comics is so rich and begs the question, “Will I need this information later?” The answer is probably so remember as much as you can about this movie.
I see the girl power theme is back in this film and I enjoyed it because, unlike Captain Marvel, it was not in my face the entire time. And yes, Disney, it was done better than Mulan. I was shown the power of the mom, the sister, the aunt and Katy without anyone having to do anything extra to point it out. The scene between Xu Wenwu and Leiko Wo was magical. It showed both her strength and beauty. She also had to be special because she, and she alone, was at the entrance of the village to protect it. They didn’t say it but is there a monarchy within the village making her a princess of sorts and that’s the reason why she had to leave when she fell in love? I don’t know but I sound like I’m on to something.
Speaking of Ta Lo, did anyone else see the creatures and say, “What Pokémon are you?” Ok, this might literally just be me. These creatures were severely underused. Only two of them helped fight, and I can understand that a benevolent group of people like the people of Ta Lo wouldn’t weaponize their creatures but maybe teach them to protect their home and people.
I feel like I always learned in History class, and in movies, that women in Chinese culture were subordinate to their men, and the same tropes were alive in this film. But only for a short while. We saw Shaun being taught how to fight while his sister watched from the shadows. I don’t remember there being a scene where she was told or reprimanded for fighting, but we are to assume that this is now her place and that’s why she decided to teach herself to fight in the cover of night. If you notice in these movies, when you teach yourself, you retain the information better and ultimately, do better than your opponent. Hence, Xu Xialing kicking her brother’s butt in that underground match.
Do you want to know what grinded my gears? The masked fighting trainer person. MISSED OPPORTUNITY. That could have been a better reveal than Taskmaster in Black Widow! Secretly, I was waiting for it to be their mom for some reason because as a certain point in the movie we hadn’t seen how the mom died. I figure they had rigged her up like they did ole girl in the second Ant-Man. Even when I saw her death scene, I was like, “Still a possibility.” But no. We never got that reveal and did we ever see that person again? Where did the go? Did I miss something?
Another thing that grinded my gears was the fact that we never saw the boss level of the rings. Yes, we saw them kind of become one with Shaun as he killed the soul-sucking dragon but what else do we know about the rings? Why am I scared of these ten rings? Why do I need to keep them safe from someone like Kang the Conqueror? I do appreciate that it was the combination of his mom’s gentle approach and his dad’s burn-it-to-the-ground tactics that ultimately helped him control himself and the rings. I think the rings might have a lineage that Shaun is apart of and that’s why Wong and them could feel them when he used them. I feel like we should explore that sooner rather than later….hint hint Marvel.
Questions that need answers. Who was their dad? If the rings are this powerful, either he stole them from that person OR he just happened upon them. If it happened to be the latter, then how did he know what they were? Did they call to him like it does in Lord of the Rings? Huge question just left out there. Also, Wong is just out here training Abomination and no one noticed? What you training him for? What are you randomly doing Wong? Is that Wong? And another thing. How was Trevor be able to talk to the lil’ faceless winged thing? This has to mean he’s special because no one else knew what Morris was saying. Also, when did Morris get to the compound? And where does Carol keep going? She never tells us which leads me to believe that she’s doing something else that has nothing to do with saving the universe. I’m not sure what his sister is doing but I have an eerie feeling she and Sharon Carter are working together. Anyone else see that or am I by myself? Also, are the people of Ta Lo part of the sorcerer group? The portal to get into Ta Lo reminded me of portals in Doctor Strange. I could be asking a stupid question but I need confirmation they are part of the sorcerer crew. Where were they when Thanos came from the past to kill all who remained after the other one snapped half the universe to…somewhere?
Is there anything I missed? Anything you wanted to know and Marvel just skipped over it? We’ll ignore Katy being master archer after a day of training. They acknowledged that when she was telling the story to her friend. They tried to right the wrong. It could have been worse. It could have been Thor: The Dark World.