Shang-Chi: The Confusing Legend of the Ten Rings

Hugh Baldwin

Earlier this September, Marvel Studios paid homage to one of their lesser-known figures when they released the 25th installment to the Marvel Cinematic Universe, “Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings”. Based on the Shang-Chi comics that were first published in the 1970s, the cinematic rendition of the original seemed just as pristine as any other Marvel Studios recreation in the past decade. But did it really make sense?

To my discredit, I have not read any of the Shang-Chi comics before, so I will not comment on the accuracy of the storyline, rather just on whether it makes sense. If you have not seen the film before, be aware that this is a movie review and does contain spoilers.

Central to the movie’s plot is Shang Chi’s relationship with his father, Xu Wenwu. Wenwu had received a ‘message’ in his head that his wife, Ying Li—who we clearly saw was killed—was apparently stuck behind a massive shielded wall. As we become aware, that wall was actually holding back an army of mythological creatures, the largest known as the “Dweller-in-Darkness”. My biggest question is why Wenwu felt it was Shang-Chi’s fault that Li was killed, because he had had previous altercations with the “Iron Gang”, the group that killed Ying Li, which leads me to believe it would be his fault.

Throughout the majority of the screenplay, Wenwu searches for Shang-Chi and his sister, Xialing, and later fights against his own son when Shang-Chi steps in his way. Not only does Wenwu already know his wife is no longer alive, but he also blames his son and fights him to his near death. That spell must have some convincing illusions for him to be that ‘thrown off’, so to speak. I may be pushing into the plot a bit here, but I just do not understand why Wenwu seriously thought it was not his own fault, and would have the audacity to place fault on Shang-Chi.

Another confusing scene is when Wenwu finally switches sides, and ‘sacrifices’ himself to save his son. I say “sacrifices”, when really he just pushes himself and his son out of the creature’s way, gets caught, and eventually has his soul pulled from his body. There is a scene of heartfelt sadness between the father and son, but should Shang-Chi really feel that way? His father had just turned on his family in pursuit of something unreachable. Even if Li was on the other side of the wall, what good would it be if Shang-Chi was killed in the process?

On that note, I think I’ve rambled more than I planned, so I’ll end it here. I would like to add that I personally enjoyed the movie despite the confusing elements here and there.


Wikipedia Contributors. (2021, December 5). Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings. Wikipedia; Wikimedia Foundation. 

Wikipedia Contributors. (2021, December 2). Shang-Chi. Wikipedia; Wikimedia Foundation.