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Shang-Chi Continues the Driving Theme of Phase 4

This text accommodates main spoilers for Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings.

Part 4 of the Marvel Cinematic Universe has acquired acclaim from followers and critics alike for exhibiting the willingness to sort out extra complicated and compelling themes than ever earlier than. And the most recent MCU movie, Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings, isn’t any exception to this pattern.

Shang-Chi is, at its coronary heart, a narrative about household — however not discovered household like in Guardians of the Galaxy or Black Widow. Reasonably, it’s a narrative about organic household, and all of the heartache and hardship it could trigger. And on the core of that story is the connection between the film’s central antagonist Xu Wenwu, higher identified to followers because the Mandarin, and his youngsters Shang-Chi and Xialing.

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Tales concerning the battle between youngsters and oldsters are nothing new to the MCU, whether or not it’s Gamora vs. Thanos or Star-Lord vs. Ego. However Shang-Chi creates a brand new twist on this acquainted story by defying the viewers’s expectations of Wenwu. Reasonably than portraying him as a power-hungry tyrant like his comedian e-book counterpart, the movie as an alternative opts to painting Wenwu as a tragic, sympathetic determine. He doesn’t need fortune, glory, or management — this Mandarin’s best crime is that he needs to see his family united once again.

Shang-Chi childhood

The driving drive behind Wenwu’s actions all through the movie is his want to be reunited along with his spouse, Ying Li. The film goes out of its solution to present that whereas Wenwu was as soon as a ruthless and fearsome warlord, he settled down and have become a loving household man after assembly Ying Li. However after Ying Li was killed by members of a rival gang to Wenwu’s personal Ten Rings group, he grew to become merciless and coldhearted, placing Shang-Chi by means of brutal martial arts coaching whereas utterly neglecting Xialing.

Finally, each Wenwu and his youngsters are motivated by the trauma introduced on by the demise of Ying Li. It’s Wenwu’s grief that caused him to fall again into his previous legal methods, and it’s his therapy of his youngsters within the wake of his spouse’s demise that led them down the trail of opposing him within the current day. Shang-Chi despises the merciless killer that Wenwu has turn into, however he additionally acknowledges the potential in himself to go down that very same path. As such, he’s motivated not simply by the selfless want to cease his father from hurting anybody else, but in addition by his personal concern of turning into similar to him.

In the meantime, Xialing’s bitterness towards Wenwu manifests within the reverse means. As a result of all of Wenwu’s consideration after Ying Li’s demise went in direction of molding Shang-Chi into the right warrior, she started to really feel uncared for and deserted. In consequence, she selected to carve out her personal path, beginning her personal legal enterprise and working a large underground struggle membership. Whereas Shang-Chi desperately needs to keep away from turning into like Wenwu, Xialing seemingly aspires to emulate and surpass him. However whereas they address their traumatic childhoods in vastly alternative ways, each siblings are clearly pushed by the hardship endured at their father’s hand.

However as soon as once more, that is hardly something new for the MCU, or the superhero style generally. Numerous different Marvel characters, heroes and villains alike, have motivations rooted in traumatic occasions. There’s Spider-Man, Iron Man, Star-Lord, Killmonger, and even Thanos, simply to call a couple of. However Part 4 of the MCU has been taking a unique strategy to the way it portrays trauma. As a substitute of simply exploring how characters are motivated by their traumatic previous, it reveals them straight confronting it and trying to beat it. As such, trauma and grief have been one thing of a recurring theme connecting each Part 4 installment thus far.

Tony Leung as the Mandarin Wenwu in Shang-Chi

WandaVision facilities round Scarlet Witch dealing with Imaginative and prescient’s demise in Infinity Conflict by creating a brand new actuality the place she will escape her previous struggling. The Falcon and the Winter Soldier options Bucky regularly attending therapy to recover from his time as a brainwashed killing machine. The title characters of Black Widow and Loki each study to beat their traumatic pasts by discovering consolation in others. And eventually, Episode 4 of What If…? explores how Physician Unusual is corrupted after he’s consumed by his personal grief — not in contrast to what occurs to Wenwu.

Earlier than his ultimate battle with Wenwu, Shang-Chi tells Katy that he intends to kill his father out of vengeance for all of the evil he’s dedicated. However through the struggle, when he has the possibility to land the ultimate blow, he stands down. As a substitute, Shang-Chi pleads to his father to surrender, choosing empathy over vengeance. And positive sufficient, Shang-Chi’s phrases get by means of to Wenwu — however the second of reconciliation is all too transient, as Wenwu quickly meets his finish within the jaws of the Dweller-in-Darkness. But even so, Wenwu’s love for his son is what permits him to move his Ten Rings on to Shang-Chi so he can defeat the Dweller.

In the long run, Shang-Chi is ready to defeat the Dweller-in-Darkness not simply due to his bodily energy or the facility of the Ten Rings, however as a result of he needed to redeem his father as an alternative of killing him. Although they each come to blows due to their trauma, Shang-Chi and Wenwu each discover reduction from their ache by means of their love for each other. Shang-Chi is a narrative concerning the sophisticated nature of household, however it’s additionally a narrative about how grief can be overcome not by means of isolation or anger, however by means of compassion and connection. That’s one thing it has in frequent with the remainder of Part 4 — solely time will inform if future MCU initiatives find yourself sharing this frequent theme.

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