[Beware of possible spoilers]
Following the ending of “Avengers: Endgame,” fans—and the actors—did not know how the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) was going to continue. When Spider-man: Far from Home picked up where Endgame left off, there was almost a collective sigh of relief from the MCU. But the absence of notable characters among the Avengers made it difficult to predict the plot. Through the DisneyPlus serieses Loki, WandaVision, and The Falcon and the Winter Soldier, the story progressed slightly with allusions to events occurring in Endgame. True-to-form, the future remained unclear. That being said, fans knew they could trust producer Kevin Feige to continue the legacy. He did not disappoint with the movie Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings as well as the addition of Shang-Chi into the MCU.
There have only been four films with a cast predominantly of Asian descent/identity produced by a major Hollywood studio, Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings being the fourth. Throughout Marvel’s 25 films, there has been a big issue surrounding a miscastings of white/non-Asian actors cast for an Asian role. Evidently, this is the first one with an Asian lead playing an Asian character. Simu Liu who plays Shang-Chi—the lead—was born in China and speaks Mandarin. This is important as there is a significant amount of Mandarin dialogue in the film. Tony Leug plays the father and is “one of the biggest Chinese-speaking movie stars in history.” Awkwafina—who is Asian American—plays Shang-Chi’s best friend and sidekick. Michelle Yeoh—a Malaysian actress and huge star in Asia—plays Shang-Chi’s aunt. Alongside this historical rejection of historical and inaccurate casting, this movie is also making history for being the as it is also the first Marvel movie to be directed by Japanese American filmmaker, Desten Daniel Cretton.
The issue revolving Asian characters in Marvel existed both in and out of the film world. The comic of which Shang-Chi originated specifically has a rocky and racist history. The villain in the movie is none other than the lead’s father, Wenwu, the leader and creator of a criminal organization. Wenwu was not the villain featured in the original comics, but “part new invention, part a combination of several different Marvel characters from the comics.” This new adaptation of the character was necessary. In the original comics, his father, known as Fu Manchu, was inspired by racist stereotypes of Asian men as he “was a caricature of a power-hungry, mystical Asian man.” It was clear that this film needed to become an improved and accurate representation of Asian culture. In doing so, this film encapsulates the culture whole roundedly and acknowledges it. As an outsider, this film shines light on Asian culture and Asian representation.
In terms of how Shang-Chi adds to the Marvel universe, he has been adopted as an avenger. That being said, this is not represented until the post-credits—yes multiple post-credit scenes—as Wong from Doctor Strange, Dr. Banner, and Captain Marvel all appear to introduce Shang-Chi to the Avengers.