The latest Marvel movie Shang-Chi and the legend of the ten rings introduces the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s first Asian superhero, Simu Liu, and dramatically improved his portrayal of superheroines, where earlier women were hyper sexualized and their self-esteem was determined by how their male co-stars affected them. treated.
Shang-Chi follows a typical superhero arc with a child who becomes a skilled assassin after the tragic death of his mother. Trained by his father Xu Wenwu who possesses the power of mystical weapons and commands a private army called the Ten Rings, Shang-Chi escapes his life as an assassin and settles in the United States. He is once again pushed to face the demons of his past as he is tasked with saving his mother’s mythical village from the clutches of his evil father.
Let’s look at the female roles in Shang-chi.
The true embodiment of power is through the female roles in the film, Ying Li played by Fala Chen possesses airbending powers and uses Tai Chi technique to deflect and defeat Wenwu. The fight sequence with Li and Wenwu is the second longest fight scene in the film. This strengthens Li’s character as a protector of her land against Wenwu’s destructive force. Although his role in the film is short, his death is the basis of the story that unfolds throughout Shang-Chi.
Another prominent female role in the film is Xu Xialing played by Shang-Chi’s sister Meng’er Zhang. She is a self-taught martial arts fighter who is wonderfully trained by the male characters in her life, her father Wenwu never deemed her worthy of attention or education and her brother Shangi-Chi who abandoned her. for a new start.
When Shangi-Chi begins searching for his estranged sister with the intention of protecting her from the dangerous men sent by their father, it is revealed that Xialing runs a popular underground combat network where she remains at the top as an undefeated fighter. . She further explains that she ran away from her father’s Ten Rings underground at the age of 16 after her brother left, she managed to build the Fight Ring on her own.
The Ten Rings complex owned by her father refused to train girls and only trained boys. By comparison, Shang-Chi grew up with many perks – formal martial arts training and the attention of his father, and still managed to escape to the United States to start his life over again.
Read also : From Catsuits to Captains – The Evolution of Women in “Superhero” Movies
It is encouraging to note that Xialing managed to become an entrepreneur and a leader at a very young age, but unfortunately the Marvel movie sheds less light on Xialing. She ignored the sexist customs thrown at her when they were aimed at depriving her of her power, this highlights another problem which is that of the sexist barriers that are thrown against Asian women; Asian men and women have very different life experiences.
The end credits scene shows Xialing looking at posters of feminist graffiti art and rock heroes in her childhood bedroom, she then heads to her new throne as the new heir to the ten ring enclosure. which previously belonged to his father. The camera features an army of masked warriors of all body and skin types trained in martial arts while the compound is decorated with rebellious artwork from her teenage years. Such a compelling and strong role, she stole the show in the film.
Shang-Chi’s best friend Katy, played by Awakafina, plays the over-glorified kick for the sole purpose of delivering comedic punchlines and driving in complicated situations. She eventually learns to wield a bow and arrow and fights alongside Ying Nan’s army.
Finally, Michelle Yeoh plays the role of Ying Nan, a strong and intimidating authority figure in the film, dressed in scarlet robes, she is the protector of the mythical village of Ta Lo and leads the army and mythical creatures to fight against Wenwu. She teaches Shang-Chi the martial art technique of Tai Chi and encourages Xialing to train with the other warriors while the women of Ta Lo train alongside the men.
It’s a step forward for the Asian community to see a Marvel movie starring an Asian superhero, but limiting Xialing’s character to an accompanying character even after having an impressive character arc feels like a step forward. back. Marvel has a roster of strong and spooky colored female characters featured in Black Panther as female warriors from Wakanda called Dora Milaje, Shuri who is a scientist, and Nakia, an elite super-spy and warrior.
Read also : Why the women of Black Panther deserve their own movie
It should be noted that all strong female leads of color are limited to the role of sidekick, as these strong female leads are coming back to our screens, it is to be wondered whether they will remain less written as experiences or will go back with it. his own solo films like the Black Widow.
All images are still images from Shang-Chi movie