The Importance of “Shang Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings”


Photo by Disney

Sophia Luo and Grace Liu

Many Asian-American teens in the Bay Area know three comprehensive principles: never wear your shoes in the house, study hard to please your parents, and don’t be surprised if you’re picked on for being Asian. Even superheroes fall victim to the overlooked racism Asians face. Take Shang-Chi for example. Shang-Chi, or “Shaun,” goes through classic Asian-American youth experiences, from struggling to fit his parent’s expectations to riding on a giant ancient Chinese dragon. 

“Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings,” released on Sept. 3, is the latest installment in the vast Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU). The film features a predominately East Asian cast and lead actor Simu Liu, who plays Shang-Chi, plays the first Asian lead of a Marvel superhero movie. The movie was a huge success due to its fantastical cinematography and depictions of Chinese folklore and culture. “I think it’s awesome to finally have an Asian movie that features a superhero. Often Asian films are historical or are specifically about the Asian experience. It’s nice that we can push into new genres of film,” senior and co-president of Asian Student Union Laura Boifort said. 

“It was wonderful to see a Marvel movie that was actually representative of other cultures, especially Asian culture, instead of just the traditional white narrative. I was really happy to see Asian representation in Marvel,” junior Jada Hembrador said. 

As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, hate crimes against Asian-Americans rose and sparked an increase in racism towards a community that had already faced discrimination before. “I still feel that a lot of racism was geared towards this movie from the public because not as many people turned out to watch Shang-Chi as most other Marvel movies specifically because they were scared of how Asians would be represented in the movie,” Hembrador said. “I think that the increase in Asian cinema is wonderful for representation, but I hope it doesn’t miscast various stereotypes surrounding Asian-Americans.”

“I really hope with this movie, kids who are like me, who grew up similarly, can have that,” lead actor Simu Liu said in an interview for Time Magazine. “That’s really the power of representation: seeing yourself on screen and feeling like you’re a part of this world, which for Asian children who have grown up in the West hasn’t always been the case.”