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Spoilers for Shang-Chi, in general.
Simu Liu as the titular Shang-Chi
If you consider yourself a true fan of the Marvel Cinematic Universe and kung-fu films in general, then, like us, you are most certainly anxiously awaiting the release of this amalgamation of the two, with less than two weeks to go!
But with all the excitement that has encapsulated our MCU-loving hearts, we would be downright disingenuous to claim that there is not a single facet of this film’s release that worries us, for there exists a veritably concerning thought that warrants further investigation.
At the time of writing, Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings is on track to being yet another critical success for Marvel Studios, sitting at a comfortable 92% with 91 reviews having been validated on Rotten Tomatoes. While this can surely be viewed as a certifiable win for the film in some eyes, recent film trends have shown to accomplish quite the opposite despite being the recipients of such widespread critical acclaim.
This polarizing and cold receptiveness by audiences to highly-regarded films was first witnessed ever so conspicuously with the release of Rian Johnson’s, The Last Jedi. While critics praised the eighth film in The Skywalker Saga, audiences were far more critical of the film as a whole, sparking severe online backlash from fans that are rumored to have caused Solo: A Star Wars Story to ultimately flop at the box office. A more recent example of glowing reviews versus lack of interest is James Gunn’s The Suicide Squad, a follow-up-cum-reboot of the 2016 film, garnering favorable critical response (the highest Rotten Tomatoes score for any DCEU film) yet failing to perform at the box office, causing it to be rumored as a flop, although this could be attributed to people’s fears of leaving their homes while the pandemic still rages on.
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Lastly, as the Shang-Chi film is marketed as Marvel’s “first Asian superhero film”, we would undoubtedly be remiss if we excluded the point about China’s alleged reception towards the film. In the months leading up to the film’s release, it has been rumored that Shang-Chi will be the first MCU film not to be released in China. As ironic as it may be, seeing that China is the biggest Asian country in the continent, it could pose a significant setback for the film’s international earnings and thereby halt any further exploration of future Shang-Chi films.
Moreover, if the film is poised to be the first MCU film banned in China, it has to be said that such a reaction is not without merit. After all, the Shang-Chi franchise is seen as controversial in Asian regions, due to stereotypical representations of the Chinese community and the appalling metaphor of the Yellow Peril ostensibly alluded to by the character Fu Manchu. Despite Kevin Feige reportedly stating that Fu Manchu will never be a part of the new film, the legacy of such a character’s existence could still resonate in the Asian community’s minds, resulting in them foregoing supporting the movie upon its release.
Of course, maybe we are just overthinking it.
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