Shang Chi & LOTR - Ticks all Marvel checkboxes



There are multiple ways of writing a story. There is the Pixar method, Blake Snyder Beat Sheet, Dan Hormon's Story Circle, Robert Mckee's structured storytelling and all of them pretty much stand on the foundations of similar principles. These structures or story building tools outline the broader strokes of a story's contents. With Marvel's ShangChi it's now clear that there is a Marvel way of building a story that the likes of Kevin Feige have been using to create every SuperHero introduction movie sitting in the glass cabins of Disney's headquarters. Let's have a look at it while we try to understand and map out the story beats of Shang Chi & LOTR.


Requirement No 1 - An incomplete family with super powers

In an interview Kevin Feige said that they have the systems to build high end graphics, all they need is a director who can tell a story with deep emotional conflict at its roots to keep it more human. Well then , the most human emotional conflicts are the ones with our family.

Black Widow had a family that could as well be called as a schrodingers family, existing and non existing at the same time. Their entire childhood memories of a lovely family was a big lie and a hoax for being a spy. This disorientation keeps their feelings real and rooted.

Black Panther's biggest enemy was his family member himself who considers himself the rightful heir to the throne of Wakanda. Ant-man's family is a mess cause his wife divorced him and he gets limited custody of his daughter. Wanda loves Vision but Vision gets killed so she wants to have a happy time with her family. Loki's twisted relationship with his real parents, adopted parents, and his own female variant makes him more human in the show.

The situation in Shang Chi is no different either. Shang Chi and Xi Xialing are the son and daughter of Wenwu who leads the Ten Rings. After their mother passed away who was gifted with strengths from ancient gods Wenwu decides to take up the ten rings than his 2 kids. The 2 kids develop hatred towards their father and each other resulting in their escape from the premises of The Ten Rings to lead their life in a normal fashion. As fate would have it, the family has to end up fighting each other to save a greater cause that could potentially destroy the world.


Requirement No 2 - A mystical land or an outcast scientist that holds unprecedented power

Wakanda holds the World's most powerful metal Vibranium that can possibly put an end to all problems related to energy and technology. It is located deep inside the African continent that is not visible to the naked eye. The Wakandan borders are coated with a technological shield that makes it difficult for enemies to enter. Professor Hank Pym has developed nano particles and nano suits to shrink size and fight the battles that were once impossible. The Red Room in Black Widow where the worlds most ruthless female assassins are trained is located beyond the stratosphere floating like a satellite. Wanda's sorcery creates a Hex where it is not easy to enter and every minute detail is managed by Wanda herself.

In Shang Chi it is Tao Lao, a place that is beyond the forests and waterfalls. The forest is a maze and eats up anyone who trespasses without knowing its true map. Tao Lao contains a deadly villain referred to as Dweller of Darkness who needs souls of innocent people to survive and become powerful. Tao Lao too holds the most powerful energy resource Dragon scales. The entire team comes together in the end to kill the Dweller of Darkness.


Requirement No 3 - A comic sidekick

One of the biggest differentiating factors of Marvel movies is they keep their brand of humour running throughout their stories. Most of this comedy comes from a sidekick that could be any character.

Loki had Mobius, Peter Parker has Ned, Natasha had Yelena, T'Challa had Shuri, Iron Man has Jarvis, and Shang Chi has Katy. These characters ensure that despite the seriousness of the situation they have a funny remark up their sleeve.


I could jot down some more but you got the idea right?


There are some spectacular action sequences in Shang Chi that are easily among the Top 3 action sequences of Marvel of all time. The CG is mesmerising to say the least, I was just amazed at what all can be done with just a set of ten rings, they become chains, they become armours, they become steps, they become explosives and they become all sorts of things. Have a peek



But the biggest differentiating factor of Shang Chi is that the lead character do not become the Super hero till the climax. For two-thirds of the movie it is Simu Liu's super athletic body performing all kinds of crazy stuns that spice up the action sequences and not any sort of inhuman power. Perhaps, that was the director's way of saying that you need courage, an indomitable will and a control over your senses rather than super powers to save the world.


The performances are top notch, especially Tony Leung the Legend himself was the best portrayal of Wenwu. Simu Liu, Akwafina and all the others were just superb. The production design was very detailed and realistic. Perhaps the epic ness of the background score could have been upped a little.


Shang Chi and The Legend of Ten Rings is definitely a watchable movie for the sheer scale of execution and Asian representation in a franchise dominated by American people.


But I am still expecting surprises in terms of plot and story rather than graphics.

Shangchi is definitely a blockbuster Marvel movie but I hoped it would go beyond and be marvellous.


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