Shang-Chi’s villain problem highlights the MCU’s toughest job after Thanos
The Marvel Cinematic Universe has the difficult task of replacing Thanos and the villain problem in Shang-Chi and the legend of the ten rings inadvertently presents it. Shang-Chi brings a new Asian superhero to the MCU in the main character of Simu Liu. Shang-Chi tries to break out of his past in the film, hiding in San Francisco from his former life as an assassin. Sadly, his evil father, Wenwu (Tony Leung), orders the Ten Rings (a killer organization named the incredibly powerful rings in the form of Wenwu’s bracelet) to attack his son. The attack brings Shang-Chi back into things. During the film, Shang-Chi must come to terms with his father and his dark past. However, another threat, the Soulsucker Dweller-in-Darkness, is also looming.
Shang-Chi introduced several new MCU characters, which instantly became fan favorites. Simu Liu brings the heart, charisma, and free topless scenes that fans have come to expect from many heroes in the MCU. Additionally, Shang-Chi’s best friend Katy (Awkwafina) provides comedic relief throughout the film, even becoming a hero herself in the final battle with the Dweller-in-Darkness. However, Shang-Chi’s sister Xialing (Meng’er Zhang) is perhaps the most dynamic new character. In addition to learning how to become a deadly assassin, Xialing creates a popular underground fight club and even takes over Wenwu’s Ten Rings organization at the end of the film.
Although Shang-Chi brings many firsts to the MCU, it also continues a notable issue. All along Shang-Chi, the best conflicts come from the family of the main character. However, despite this, Dweller-in-Darkness becomes the focus at the end of the film, and the MCU bluntly dismisses Shang-Chi’s father’s issues. With a focus on Dweller-in-Darkness, the MCU is repeating its trend of messy, loaded CGI battles to end its films. With Shang-Chi, the The villain post left by Thanos (Josh Brolin) seems more important than ever. While the film’s family conflicts are by far the most interesting, the new film shows the MCU will struggle to scale its next major threat.
Shang-Chi’s best conflict was his family, not the dwellers of darkness
Shang-Chi’s complicated family history is at the heart of the film. Because Wenwu owns the Ten Rings, the villain has lived for over 1,000 years and has waged war through the centuries. However, Wenwu abandoned the Ten Rings and its assassin organization after meeting Ying Li (Fala Chen), a guardian of the mystical dimension of Ta Lo. The couple becomes a family and has Shang-Chi and Xialing; however, it does not last long. Eventually, Wenwu’s enemies kill Ying Li, so he takes back his Ten Rings and League of Underground Assassins for revenge, even leading his son to become a killer. His relationship with his daughter also becomes strained, as she reminds him of Ying Li. Although he taught his son to be a killer, Xialing eventually had to make his own way, teaching himself in secret. Shang-Chi and Xialing’s dark history made them the heroes they become in the film, and the complicated relationship with their father makes his fight all the more difficult.
Family conflict leads Shang-Chi. At the end of the movie, the Dweller-in-Darkness, a giant, soul-eating squid-dragon, becomes the main villain, but that’s all because of Shang-Chi’s family. During the film, Wenwu gathers her children after hearing Ying Li’s voice and thinking that a village in the magical world of Ta Lo is holding her prisoner. In reality, the Dweller-in-Darkness mimics Ying Li and manipulates Wenwu to release him into the world. But that’s almost irrelevant. Wenwu’s belief brings her family together, forcing them to face their problems, Ying Li’s death, and the years they have all lost. For two-thirds of the film, Shang-Chi these are not heroes fighting CGI monsters; it is a family facing loss, neglect and trauma.
The Dweller-In-Darkness repeats the problem of the third act of the Avengers
The third act of the film changes everything. The MCU resorts to its conclusion at the end of the film, forcing the heroes to fight an army of CGI-created monsters until they inevitably win. Although not the focus of the film, an army of flying monsters and the giant Dweller-in-Darkness suck souls and screen time until the heroes take them out as if they weren’t. never even a threat. It’s the same problem The Avengers faces. In the movie, Chitauri’s aliens appear to come out of nowhere to suddenly become a menacing army that the Avengers must fight against. Then, as soon as they arrive, they are predictably defeated by the heroes and the audience remains indifferent. This is a common problem for Marvel movies, and Shang-Chi continues.
MCU must replace Thanos as ‘major threat’
Thanos left a huge villain opening in the MCU. Throughout the first three phases of the Marvel films, Thanos was a constant presence, always pulling the strings in the background. Then in Avengers: Infinity War, the character has taken center stage. He wiped out half of the MCU’s population, inflicted their first defeat on the Avengers, and became all Marvel fans could talk about until the end of. Avengers: Endgame. It took years of construction, but Thanos has become a worthy villain to close the MCU’s first decade.
Marvel has yet to replace Thanos as a major threat. As in Shang-Chi, the villains of the latest Marvel movies often disappear as quickly as they appear. Shang-Chi’s friends don’t even believe his story about Dweller-in-Darkness when he explains to them at the end of the movie. Why should they? The villain and his minions are almost an afterthought in the film. If characters in the MCU don’t care about villains, audiences certainly don’t care, either. Although Loki established that a variant of Kang the Conqueror (Jonathan Majors) was in the background of the MCU and manipulated things from the start, any current threat seems distant and vague. So far, Marvel hasn’t delivered a suitable replacement for its former villain.
Shang-Chi’s family conflict shows why escalating the MCU is so difficult
Shang-Chi reveals why it’s so difficult for the MCU to create memorable and lasting villains. In the film, the most exciting and impactful stories all take place around Shang-Chi’s family. Likewise, before Black Widow Resorted to a giant CGI battle in the sky, internal family conflict was at the heart of the film. However, a Avengers-The threat level cannot be personal. While personal issues drive the single-player movies, the MCU’s significant conflicts must draw all the heroes in and create end-of-universe issues. After all, if his next threat isn’t more dangerous than Thanos, what’s the point? It took years for the MCU to make Thanos a worthy villain and, sadly, Bad Fathers and Flying Squid Monsters Shang-Chi and the legend of the ten rings do not cut it.
More: The MCU Still Wants You To Think Thanos Was Right
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