An Asian-American superhero exploring his cultural identity and confronting family ties in a fight to save the world? Probably not.
But that’s exactly what Shang-Chi And The Legend Of The Ten Rings offers.
Directed by Destin Daniel Cretton, the 25th movie in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) breaks new ground by introducing Simu Liu as its first Asian superhero on the big screen.
Liu says it is “an incredible honour” to represent the community.
His title role sees him play a martial arts master turned assassin who, following the death of his mother, grew up doing the bidding of his grief-stricken warlord father Wenwu – owner of the all-powerful Ten Rings.
Now estranged from his family, we first meet Shang-Chi attempting to reinvent himself in America by living as a valet driver named Shaun.
But this new life of parking cars (amid weeknight karaoke sessions with his co-worker and best friend Katy) is thrown into chaos when an ambush by his father’s shadowy Ten Rings army reveals a plan that forces him to confront his past.
Discussing the role earlier this month Liu told reporters: “It’s so rare that… people that look like me are thrust into those positions and I think it’s tremendously empowering”.
Cretton, born in Maui, Hawaii, similarly added: “I never had a superhero who I could identify with when I was a kid, and to be able to have an option for a new generation of kids who look like me or who have a similar background as me, that’s very special.”
The film’s commitment to representation ensures a predominantly Asian cast alongside Liu that scales a spectrum of established and fresh faces.