“Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings” hits theaters

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Tiara Starks, Entertainment Editor

On Sept. 3, “Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings,” the first Marvel film to star an Asian lead character was released theatrically across the country.

The film stars Simu Liu, a previously unknown Canadian actor and stuntman who received local acclaim as one of the stars of the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) sitcom “Kim’s Convenience.” Liu auditioned in 2019 with Marvel Studios president Kevin Fiege, who teased the movie at the San Diego Comic-Con alongside Liu that same year. Fans speculated that his accepting the offer to star in the film had played a part in the cancellation of the beloved show. Liu responded to the public’s outcry by saying that there were internal creative differences between the showrunner, writing staff and actors, causing the show to end.

The film is centered around a martial arts master Shang-Chi who is trained by his father, a crime lord and sorcerer named Fu Manchu. Shang Chi has to confront his father and other parts of his life when he’s drawn into the web of the mysterious Ten Rings organization.

Prior to its official release, the movie had sparked conversations surrounding people of color portraying superheroes. A 2018 Hollywood Reporter article had compared the film to another one of Marvel’s most notable releases, “Black Panther,” which had a majority Black cast. The film is expected to offer a perspective on Asian identity in a time where Hollywood is realizing the importance of diversity and its audience-driven desire for stories from different cultures.

Liu has since used his social media, most notably on his Instagram and Twitter, to share his excitement for the role as well as other marketing materials made for the film’s promotion. During this time, Disney CEO Bob Chapek made a statement that lacked nuance when describing the distribution strategy for the big-budget film.

According to Chapek, it should be arriving on the streaming service Disney+ on Oct. 18, 45 days after the theatrical release. There hasn’t been an official announcement as it is also possible Disney will charge an additional fee to watch it when it does arrive. This might be attributed to the rise in vaccinations, which has impacted the distribution of movies theatrically and digitally. Though the movie was originally scheduled for release in February of this year, its current release date came at the perfect time.

Despite the hero’s newfound recognition, Shang-Chi has been subjected to a trope-defined history. This new film will offer a reinvention of Shang-Chi’s storyline and introduce Marvel fans new and old to the next phase of historical heroism in Hollywood.