‘Shang-Chi’ Bound For Labor Day Weekend Record With $90M+ WW Launch – Box Office Preview

Entertainment

Deadline 01 September, 2021 - 10:18am 11 views

When does Shang Chi come out?

In August, during an earnings call, Disney CEO Bob Chapek confirmed Shang-Chi's theatrical-only release on September 3, 2021. Disney plans to watch the movie's box office performance to see if audiences are ready to return to theaters en masse. Inverse'Shang-Chi' Disney Plus release date? It’s sooner than you think.

This year's final cutdown day was already going to be different. Typically, the NFL's deadline for teams to announce their 53-man rosters took place on the Saturday before the first week of the regular season. By the time most NFL fans had finished their first cup of coffee, teams would make their initial cuts before releasing their first 53-man roster sometime in the mid-afternoon. 

Things are different in 2021. With the advent of the 17-game season, the NFL's final cutdown day was moved to a weekday. Instead of Saturday morning mayhem, NFL fans experienced their version of Super Tuesday, a term usually reserved for election Tuesdays. Several teams made moves that made national headlines, while other teams managed to mostly stay out of the limelight. No team, however, was able to avoid making at least one or two tough decisions. Players who did not make their team's roster will now look to either find a spot on another roster or find a home on a practice squad. 

Now that the 4 p.m. deadline has passed, let's take a look at each team's most notable roster cut. We've also included several trades that went down throughout the course of the day. 

The Cardinals officially placed cornerback Malcolm Butler on the team's reserve/retired list. On Monday, Mike Garafolo of the NFL Network reported that the former Super Bowl hero is dealing with a "personal situation" while adding that stepping away from football is "on the table." A Pro Bowler in 2015, the 31-year-old Butler picked off four passes as a member of the Titans last season. 

Atlanta notably kept three quarterbacks -- Matt Ryan, Josh Rosen and rookie Feleipe Franks -- on the 53-man roster. Rosen, who signed with Atlanta last week, went 9 of 18 with 118 yards and a touchdown during his preseason debut with the Falcons. 

Despite a strong preseason, Jake Verity was unable to unseat four-time All-Pro Justin Tucker, who will return for his 10th season in Baltimore. Baltimore had reportedly received interest about a possible trade for Verity before ultimately waiving him. 

Veteran tight end (and Aaron Rodgers favorite) Jake Kumerow was part of Buffalo's initial 53-man roster following an impressive camp. Not as fortunate was quarterback Jake Fromm, as the former Georgia standout was part of Buffalo's roster cuts. 

In Charlotte, former XFL star PJ Walker beat out 2019 third-round pick Will Grier as Sam Darnold's backup. With Grier's release, defensive end Brian Burns and offensive lineman Dennis Daley are the only Panthers left from the team's 2019 draft class. 

In a bit of a surprise, the Bears waived receiver and sixth-round pick Dazz Newsome. Newsome had recently returned to practice after breaking his collarbone during OTAs. The Bears are reportedly hoping to re-sign Newsome to the practice squad if he manages to clear waivers. A bigger surprise was the team's release of cornerback Desmond Trufant, who left the Bears on August 13 in order to deal with a personal family matter. A 2015 Pro Bowler, Trufant is still owed $3.5 million from the Lions, who released him in March. 

The Bengals parted ways with rookie running back Pooka Williams, who had just one carry for eight yards during the preseason. Williams, whom the Bengals will reportedly try to sign to their practice squad if he clears waivers, rushed for over 1,000 yards in each of his first two seasons at Kansas. He opted out of the 2020 season after Kansas' first four games. Cincinnati also waived defensive tackle Mike Daniels -- a former Pro Bowler who started 11 games during the 2020 season -- and former starting offensive guard Michael Jordan. 

Cleveland had several notable cuts, but the biggest one was the release of receiver KhaDarel Hodge. Hodge, whose prowess special teams was recently praised by Cleveland special teams coach Mike Priefer, caught two touchdown passes during the preseason that included a 22-yard touchdown catch from quarterback Baker Mayfield on Sunday night. The emergence of Donovan Peoples-Jones and rookie Anthony Schwartz apparently made Hodge expendable. 

In a close competition, Cooper Rush beat out Garrett Gilbert and Ben DiNucci for the job as the Cowboys' No. 2 quarterback behind Dak Prescott. Rush, who served as Prescott's primary backup from 2017-19, went 29 of 46 for 272 with two touchdowns and zero interceptions during the preseason. Gilbert was 28 of 50 for 301 yards with one touchdown and zero interceptions. DiNucci was 35 of 66 passing for 348 yards with two touchdowns and four interceptions. 

Denver released two of the four "quarterbacks" who started under center for them in 2020. The team released Brett Rypien and receiver Kendall Hinton, who started at quarterback against the Saints when Drew Lock, Rypien and Blake Bortles were placed on the team's reserve/COVID-19 list. The Broncos will reportedly sign Rypien to their practice squad if he clears waivers. 

As of 4 p.m., the Lions did not have a kicker after waiving Randy Bullock and Zane Gonzalez. Detroit also waived cornerback Nickell Robey-Coleman less than a month after acquiring the veteran defensive back. 

The biggest headline out of Green Bay was the news that All-Pro left tackle David Bakhtiari would start the 2021 season on the team's physically unable to perform. Filling in for Bakhtiari will be Elgton Jenkins, a Pro Bowl guard who has temporarily moved over to tackle. The Packers also waived receiver Equanimeous St. Brown, who caught 28 passes in 24 games in Green Bay. 

A week after acquiring him via trade, the Texans released cornerback Ka'Dar Hollman. The Packers' sixth-round pick in 2019, Hollman appeared in 18 regular season games (with one start) during his first two seasons. Houston gave up a seventh-round pick in the 2022 draft to acquire Hollman. The Texans also made headlines by cutting former starting receiver Keke Coutee

The Colts' most notable roster cut was rookie safety Shawn Davis, a fifth-round pick who became the second-highest pick cut before his rookie season began in Chris Ballard's time as general manager. The Colts instead decided to keep Andre Chachere, a more versatile defender who is coming off of an impressive camp. 

The Jaguars released several notable receivers that included Phillip Dorsett II, Devin Smith (who played for Urban Meyer at Ohio State), Laquon Treadwell and Pharoh Cooper. Among the other notable Jaguar cuts included safety Jarrod Wilson and offensive lineman Jermaine Eluemunor

For the first the first time as Chiefs general manager, Brett Veach has released one of his draft picks before the start of the regular season. That player is receiver Cornell Powell, a fifth-round pick who caught 53 passes for 882 yards and seven touchdowns during his senior season at Clemson. Powell caught just four passes during the preseason. 

Las Vegas granted receiver John Brown's quest to be released. The Raiders had signed Brown to replace Nelson Agholor, who signed with the Patriots during the offseason. Las Vegas also released strong safety Karl Joseph, the team's 2016 first-round pick who spent the 2020 season with the Browns. 

The Chargers bid adieu to kicker Michael Badgley, who lost his position battle against Tristian Vizaino. The team's kicker since 2018, Badgley made 80% of his field goal attempts and 95.3% of his point-after attempts over that span. He struggled in 2020, however, as he made a career-low 72.7% of his field goal tries and 92.3% of his point-after attempts. 

After trading punter Corey Bojorquez to the Packers, the Rams restructured the contract of JK Scott. The team's starting punter since 2018. Scott averaged 45.5 yards per punt last season, a 1.5-yard improvement from the previous season. 

Miami's roster cuts included linebacker Shaquem Griffin, who will reportedly be signed to the Dolphins' practice squad assuming he clears waivers. The former Seahawk and UCF standout was signed by the Dolphins on July 23. 

Minnesota addressed its need at tight end by trading for former Jet Chris Herndon in exchange for draft pick compensation. A fourth-round pick in the 2018 draft, Herndon caught 71 of 103 targets for 796 yards and seven touchdowns in 33 games with the Jets. The Vikings' most notable cut was defensive end Everson Griffin, who was recently re-signed by the club. 

No one saw New England releasing Cam Newton on Tuesday. But given Mac Jones' preseason success, Bill Belichick decided to end any speculation about the team's plans at quarterback entering Week 1. In 15 series, Jones went 36-of-52 passing for 389 yards with one touchdown and no interceptions during the preseason. In seven series, Newton went 14 of 21 for 162 yards with one touchdown and one interception. Jones' first regular-season start will take place at home against the Dolphins on Sept. 12. 

Shortly after Sean Payton confirmed that Jameis Winston would be the Saints' starting quarterback, the team released Trevor Siemian, who went 4 of 8 for 59 yards in his only preseason appearance. The team is not done with Siemian, as NFL Network's Tom Pelissero has reported that the Saints are planning to re-sign him later this week. The plan is for Siemian to be the Saints' No. 2 quarterback, with Taysom Hill expected to be used in a multitude of ways while also serving as one of Winston's backups. 

For the second straight day, the Giants traded for an offensive lineman. One day after they traded for former Bengals offensive lineman Billy Price, the Giants have acquired interior lineman Ben Bredeson via a trade with the Ravens. The Giants will receive a 2022 fifth-round pick and a 2023 seventh-round pick after sending the Ravens a fourth-round pick. The move comes after New York released several offensive linemen on Tuesday that included center Jonotthan Harrison, guard Kenny Wiggins, tackle Jackson Barton and center Brett Heggie.

Among the Jets' notable roster cuts included rookie quarterback James Morgan, receiver Vyncint Smith, cornerback Lamar Jackson, linebacker Noah Dawkins and defensive lineman Ronald Blair, who played for Robert Saleh in San Francisco. Dawkins, who appeared to be in the mix for a starting job, could be back with team once they place players on injured reserve. 

Philadelphia parted ways with Travis Fulgham, its leading receiver last season. The Lions' sixth-round pick in the 2019 draft, Fulgham caught 38 of 67 targets for 539 yards and four touchdowns in 13 games last season. But Fulgham -- who caught 29 passes for 435 yards and four touchdowns over a five-game span -- saw his production fall off after suffering a foot injury. An inconsistent training camp ultimately led to his release. 

As expected, Dwayne Haskins made the Steelers' initial roster following a solid preseason. Notable players who did not make Pittsburgh's roster included running back Jaylen Samuels and reserve offensive lineman B.J. Finney. A 2018 fifth-round pick, Samuels tallied 1,009 all-purpose yards and five touchdowns during his three seasons in Pittsburgh. The team's top backup interior lineman from 2016-19, Finney returned to Pittsburgh this offseason after spending the 2020 season in Seattle and Cincinnati. 

Former first-round pick Ha Ha Clinton-Dix failed to make the 49ers' roster despite having a pick-six during the team's preseason finale. San Francisco also parted with veteran receiver Travis Benjamin

After recently acquiring him via a trade with Houston, Seattle waived cornerback John Reid. The Seahawks will reportedly try to sign Reid to their practice squad if he clears waivers. The 141st overall pick in the 2020 draft, Reid made just one start during his rookie season while appearing in 13 games. 

It's hard for a rookie to make any roster, let alone the roster of the defending Super Bowl champion that kept each of its 22 starters from the previous season. Despite this, six of Tampa Bay's seven rookies managed to make the team's 53-man roster, with the exception being seventh-round cornerback Chris Wilcox. Rookie quarterback Kyle Trask managed to make the cut, as he will play behind Tom Brady and Blaine Gabbert

With Julio Jones, A.J. Brown and Josh Reynolds manning the Titans' top-three receiver spots, fourth-round pick Dez Fitzpatrick didn't do enough during camp to secure his spot on the roster. Fitzpatrick, who could be re-signed to the Titans' practice squad if he clears waivers, caught 154 passes for 2,589 yards and 21 touchdowns in four seasons at Louisville. 

By making Washington's roster, tight end Sammis Reyes became the first Chilean-born NFL player. Reyes, who will play alongside fellow tight ends Logan Thomas and John Bates, is considered the team's best blocking tight end. Reyes was signed by the Football Team in April after participating in Florida's pro day. 

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SHANG-CHI "Fight with Dragon" Trailer (2021)

ONE Media 01 September, 2021 - 01:20pm

The Reclamation of Shang-Chi

GameSpot 01 September, 2021 - 07:32am

On Friday, ‘Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings’ will mark the arrival of the MCU’s first Asian American lead character. But it’s not just a triumphant moment of representation—it’s one that aims to reverse decades of comic book stereotyping.

By 1912, Rohmer had released his first novel, The Mystery of Dr. Fu-Manchu, which capitalized on the xenophobic fear-mongering toward East Asia known as the Yellow Peril and introduced a dastardly Asian villain who would soon become a household name. It was an immediate commercial success, and by the 1920s, Fu Manchu was the central focus of a British silent film series and the main character in Paramount Pictures’ The Mysterious Dr. Fu Manchu. The character, distinguished by his talon-like fingernails, unnatural yellow skin, and a spindly mustache that dangles across the sides of his face, quickly grew into one of the most prolific villains in 20th-century popular culture, and a stereotype that would haunt Asians around the world for generations. His racist image was re-created in cartoons, radio serials, and most prominently in films, with revered white actors like Boris Karloff, John Carradine, and Christopher Lee all portraying him throughout the years.

But Fu Manchu has an even larger place in the history of comic books, and plays an outsized role in the genre’s troubles depicting Asian people. As martial arts grew in popularity in the early 1970s, Marvel Comics, which had failed to acquire the rights to adapt the popular David Carradine TV series Kung Fu, instead licensed the rights to Rohmer’s Fu Manchu. But rather than making the pulp villain the title character of his own series, Marvel chose to introduce a new hero in the form of Fu Manchu’s previously unknown son: Shang-Chi.

Now, nearly 50 years after Shang-Chi made his debut in Steve Englehart and Jim Starlin’s Special Marvel Edition no. 15 and became the series’ protagonist of Master of Kung Fu, the character is being revived in the Marvel world. When Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings hits theaters on Friday, it will mark the arrival of the first Asian lead in the 25 films that Marvel Studios has produced since 2008, and become only the fourth film produced by a major Hollywood studio to feature a predominantly Asian cast since 1993, when the The Joy Luck Club premiered (the second being 2018 box-office hit Crazy Rich Asians, and the third being the live-action Mulan). It’s another long overdue moment for Asian American representation, but for Marvel Studios and Marvel Comics, it’s also an opportunity to reverse decades of damaging work and problematic decision-making, like casting Ben Kingsley to play the Mandarin in Iron Man 3 and Tilda Swinton as the Ancient One in Doctor Strange.

“We were all on the same page right off the bat,” says Simu Liu, who portrays the film’s titular Chinese American superhero. “We were going to introduce an all-new origin story for this character, and the only things we were going to take from the comics were his name, his martial arts skills, and the fact that he had a complicated relationship with his father.”

Under the direction of Destin Daniel Cretton (Just Mercy, Short Term 12), the first Asian American filmmaker to helm a movie in the MCU, Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings reclaims a character who was born in the shadows of one of the most pervasive and harmful Asian stereotypes. At the same time, the character is receiving a similar renaissance in the comics under the stewardship of writer Gene Luen Yang and artist Dike Ruan. The film and comics teams are two disparate creative crews, working independently across two different forms of media, but together, their parallel efforts mark a concerted effort within the company to improve, expand, and make amends. “One of our big goals was to make Shang-Chi feel like he’s embedded in this preexisting universe,” says Yang. “He is a part of this. He’s a part of the fabric of this fictional world.”

In 2011, when journalist and They Call Us Bruce cohost Jeff Yang was approached by NYU to curate an art exhibition using sci-fi author William F. Wu’s extensive collection of comic books, he was presented with five decades’ worth of Western comics—and their attendant stereotypes. “It was so evident that the ways that we are depicted as Asians in Western popular culture just fit tropes—fit preexisting themes and archetypes almost to a T, and those tropes have existed since long before there were comics,” Jeff Yang says. “These are the artifacts—the inheritances, essentially—of generations of propaganda, editorial cartoons, scurrilous posters, wartime efforts to turn us into monsters so it was easier to attack us, defeat us, and destroy us.”

The exhibit, Marvels and Monsters: Unmasking Asian Images in U.S. Comics, encompasses American comic books from 1942 to 1986, a period in American history that covers “intense Asia-related political engagement: the internment of Japanese Americans; the dropping of atomic bombs in Hiroshima and Nagasaki; wars in Korea and Vietnam; continued Cold War tensions with China; economic competition with Japan; and adaptation to skyrocketing immigration and growing populations of Asian Americans.” Anti-Asian bias in the media can be traced back even further still—in the 19th century, Yellow Peril cartoons and editorials contributed to the passage of the 1882 Chinese Exclusion Act, the first and only piece of U.S. federal legislation to explicitly suspend immigration for a specific nationality.

After parsing through the piles and piles of comics that Wu had amassed over time, Yang was able to identify a number of Asian archetypes that kept recurring throughout the years—the Alien, the Kamikaze, the Brute, the Lotus Blossom, the Guru, the Brain, the Temptress, and the Manipulator—and fit them within the greater historical context of the 20th century. “Comic books have always been an almost direct expression of imagination, and maybe id,” Jeff Yang says. “In comics the difference is that you can literally make anything happen. You can create what you want in comics in a way that is much more challenging than almost any other media, and as a result take on the deepest fears, the greatest doubts, the most aspirational fantasies you might have.”

With the arrival of Shang-Chi in Master of Kung Fu, the draw was not so much the new hero as it was the already infamous supervillain (much like how FBI good guy Jimmy Woo was upstaged by the evil Yellow Claw). Unlike other superheroes who had strange and fantastic origin tales of radioactive spider bites or lab experiments gone horribly wrong, Fu Manchu was the backstory for Shang-Chi in those early years. In fact, Marvel initially passed on the character when creators Englehart and Starlin pitched him. It wasn’t until Fu Manchu was added as his father that Shang-Chi got the green light. Although Marvel would work to retcon Fu Manchu from the canon, Shang-Chi never really became a noteworthy, fully realized character on his own. Master of Kung Fu was discontinued in 1983; Shang-Chi only appeared in the occasional miniseries, martial arts lesson, or Avengers team-up thereafter.

In 2020, a year after Simu Liu was announced as the MCU’s newest hero at Comic-Con in San Diego, Shang-Chi received his most meaningful comic book reboot in years under an all-Asian creative team led by the Eisner-award-winning writer Gene Luen Yang (American Born Chinese and DC’s Superman Smashes the Klan). While the most blatantly problematic depictions of Asians were filtered out of the pages of Marvel’s comics long ago, Yang was still tasked with modernizing a character who had long been hidden behind the capes of his contemporaries. “When I signed up to do Shang-Chi as the writer, I went back and I read a lot of those [Master of Kung Fu] comics that I had avoided as a kid, and I realized that he functions really differently from what we think as the standard Marvel character,” says Yang. “I think Spider-Man is the prototypical Marvel superhero, and his appeal is, you’re supposed to identify with Spider-Man. ... But Shang-Chi is not like that. You’re not meant to identify with Shang-Chi. You’re meant to look at this weird ‘Chinaman’ doing all of these spectacular kung fu feats, but you’re not necessarily meant to empathize with him. That’s one of the things that Dike [Ruan] and I really wanted to fix.”

Yang and Ruan’s first Shang-Chi miniseries, Brothers & Sisters, repurposes the family dynamic that’s always defined the central tension of the character’s life, and adds personality and color to both Shang-Chi and the story’s supporting characters. It embeds Chinese traditions and adopts a greater attention to detail—from the subtitled use of various Chinese dialects to the consumption of delicious crystal cakes—that brings depth to a world that was once hollow. And although the ongoing Shang-Chi comics and Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings are separate entities with no direct creative crossover, it’s no coincidence that the two teams are taking similar tacks in emphasizing their protagonist’s family dynamics and nuances. These are distinct jobs, but they share the same goal. “One of the big things that we struggle with as Asian Americans, and maybe especially Asian American men, is the idea of the Asian horde—like we’re this faceless crowd, as opposed to individuals,” says Yang. “That’s how we’ve been portrayed traditionally in American comics and in American film. The thing I’m most excited about for [Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings], and I hope it’s the first for the trend, is that we’re going to get individualized. We’re going to be seen as three-dimensional human beings.”

Martial arts, of course, are Eastern traditions that predate the film genre by centuries. But they only really rose to prominence in American popular culture in the early ’70s, in part due to the success of ABC’s Kung Fu series starring Carradine in 1972 and to a much larger extent Bruce Lee’s Enter the Dragon the following year. Lee was a true trailblazer, an Asian American actor and martial artist who defied evil Fu Manchu or subservient Charlie Chan Hollywood stereotypes every time he appeared on screen. And though he had to first become a star in Hong Kong before getting his big break in Hollywood, Lee established a new place for Asian actors in the American film industry in the years to follow—one that didn’t require them to demean themselves in roles that white actors would often yellowface their way into anyway. “I definitely grew up idolizing and watching Bruce [Lee], Jackie [Chan], Jet [Li], Donnie [Yen],” says Liu. “Martial arts was, in a lot of ways, the only positive representation that we had.”

Lee tragically died before he could even see Enter the Dragon haul in $90 million globally in its first year, against an $850,000 budget, but his success and the growing hunger for more kung fu content in his absence helped pave the way for Hong Kong and Chinese-born actors like Chan, Li, and Yen to succeed in Hollywood years later. And while this new archetypal kung fu hero was undoubtedly a major leap forward for Asian actors in American cinema, without Lee to help push the envelope even further, progress slowed as a new trope was born. “There’s a reason why we all love Bruce Lee and are fans of his, because he’s legitimately awesome,” Cretton says with a laugh. “But I think the only problem is there isn’t enough variety to iconic Asian actors in [American] cinema. And so, Bruce Lee, unfortunately, over time being the only icon, became a cliché and stereotype.”

For Liu, opportunities were scarce as an Asian actor trying to break into the film industry with aspirations of being more than the Kung Fu Guy—even as recently as 2013. “I remember, my very first set that I was ever on, Pacific Rim, I was a minimum-wage extra,” the Chinese Canadian actor recalls. “And I’d just be looking at the stunt performers who were Asian and thinking, ‘Wow, if I work really hard, maybe I could get there one day, and maybe I could be a faceless stunt man that gets beat up by a white character.’ But that was it! If you worked in the industry, and you were an Asian guy, then you were most likely a martial artist, and you most likely were a stunt guy—that’s just the reality of it.”

In the eight years since Guillermo del Toro’s Pacific Rim was released, the Hollywood landscape has changed tremendously, with movements like #OscarsSoWhite and #WhiteWashedOUT calling for more diversity and representation in the entertainment industry. Meanwhile, commercial and critical successes have proved Hollywood’s fear of primarily minority casts to be completely unwarranted. Jon M. Chu’s Crazy Rich Asians (2018) raked in over $174.5 million in 2018, all but ensuring that it wouldn’t be another quarter-century wait before another Asian-led film would get a chance in Hollywood. (See: Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings, coming soon to theaters near you.) In 2020, Bong Joon-ho’s Parasite became the first South Korean and non–English language film to win Best Picture at the Academy Awards. And Lee Isaac Chung’s Minari not only received a nod for Best Picture at the following Oscars show, but also garnered a Best Supporting Actress win for Youn Yuh-jung—the first Korean to win an Academy Award for acting—and a Best Actor nomination for Steven Yeun, the first Asian American actor to receive the honor.

But with all that said, these films are, at least at the moment, still exceptions when considering the greater Hollywood landscape. And although the Academy Awards are still among the highest distinctions that a film can receive, Hollywood’s often self-serving award shows continue to lose cultural significance by the year.

With Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings, Cretton and Co. have the opportunity to tell a story that celebrates Asian culture as a part of the most lucrative franchise in cinematic history. As they’ve become the most accessible form of modern mythology, superhero films have become ingrained in 21st-century popular culture. And even if Shang-Chi is the Master of Kung Fu, the film’s reinvestment in character development, without any sacrifice in the quality of its action sequences, has the potential to push the time-honored genre of martial arts forward still. “There is room now in 2021, and with this movie, to evolve that conversation even more and to say, ‘It’s also not just about the martial arts,’” says Liu. “This movie will be as successful as it is because it’s emotionally resonant, because there are strong performances, because it really deals with the human condition, and because it doesn’t shy away from moments of vulnerability.”

While the film boasts spectacular fight choreography under the direction of the late Brad Allan, who’s best known for his prolific stuntman career working alongside Jackie Chan, it’s the frayed relationship between Shang-Chi and his father, Wenwu, that drives Shang-Chi. Played by the legendary Hong Kong actor Tony Leung, Wenwu is a far cry from the caricature of Fu Manchu, or even the similarly problematic Mandarin, whom the film cleverly subverts expectations around based on the MCU’s own previously controversial casting choice. But Wenwu is also a more compelling villain than the vast majority that the MCU has offered to date, full stop. That’s in no small part due to an unsurprisingly strong performance from Leung, but it’s also a credit to the creative team’s commitment to breaking stereotypes with each of its characters—from fleshing out Shang-Chi’s backstory and emphasizing his personality over his kung fu skills, to making Wenwu more than a two-dimensional villain with indeterminate intentions to bring destruction to the modern world. “It was really just about creating characters that are relatable to anybody,” says Cretton. “Whether you are a part of this community or not, you understand what Shang-Chi’s journey is, you understand what Wenwu’s pain is, and once you really understand a character and you can relate to them, it’s hard to put them into a stereotypical box.”

The specter of Fu Manchu is still alive in Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings; the inchoative father-son dynamic that defined the hollow Master of Kung Fu title character is ever present. But, just as Gene Luen Yang is rewriting the comics today, the reclamation of the story by Asian American creators helps make Shang-Chi an empowering and impactful addition to the MCU. Above all else, and especially in a pandemic when anti-Asian hate crimes have risen at an alarming rate, the film’s lasting significance may be how it’s able to display the nuances of a complex, widespread Asian diaspora, and humanize a host of diverse Asian characters anchored by strong performances from Liu, Leung, Awkwafina, Michelle Yeoh, and more. “There’s no denying that it’s a watershed moment for our community,” says Liu. “It’s going to be so special for Asian kids, regardless of where they grow up, to watch this and to see themselves reflected ... but it’s also, for everybody around the world, an opportunity to share our culture with them and to learn and witness more diverse and rich stories.”

“[This movie] is hopefully going to allow people who may not be a part of this culture to see that we are more connected than we are different,” Cretton adds. “That we all deal with pain, we all deal with family trauma, we all persevere, and we all are capable of love. Those are the things that have the power to break racism, to shatter the ignorance that is required to hate someone based on what they look like.”

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