The action and fighting set pieces stand out amongst the Marvel films in Shang-Chi and the visual effects are groundbreaking. Tony Leung getting cast in a Marvel film is pretty surreal and nice to see a great actor get recognized on a global Disney scale. However, the writing is painfully bad, mainly the characterizations and how they fit into the worldbuilding. There’s a level of cheesiness to the characterizations and humor here that’s laid on thicker than most Marvel films. Its unbearable joke structures feel more akin to Cartoon television, but with an earnestness that makes it all appear as a big practical, corporate size joke with everyone laughing at me.
The value in Shang-Chi is found in the casting, using some of the greatest Chinese actors Tony Leung and Michelle Yeoh. For contemporary actors, Awkwafina is mostly fine here, but I couldn’t stand the logic behind her character. She mostly serves as the cliché Marvel joke machine that can be spliced in whenever the story needs a bit of levity. It’s so transparent of a device that makes her presence feel incredibly artificial. On the other hand, Simu Liu feels like the prototypical Marvel cast with the one amazing caveat that he’s the first Asian-American actor to garner a MCU leading man role.
If we’re going to mass produce these films, at least have some sort of minority representation that accounts for a large percentage of the MCU fanbase. It’s about time these pale white films got some accurate representation and I hope we see more in the future. Lastly, I’ll refrain from my normal MCU ranting style and just say this film goes for the exact same story beats as every Spider-Man film in existence and doesn’t have a lot of originality for a brand new Marvel property. It’s the same old story structure in a new design