Masala: The Cast of ‘Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings’ Are Kicking Open Doors for the Future of the MCU

After years of waiting, Marvel’s first Asian superhero movie is finally here, much to the excitement of the cast, the creators and the fans. Settle down as the stars, director and writer discuss what being a part of “Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings” means to them and more. 

Set after “Avengers: Endgame,” the movie follows Simu Liu’s Shang-Chi as he confronts his past and the sinister Ten Rings organization he thought he escaped. While the character and the world are rooted in the Marvel comics, the writing team actually strayed away from the comics’ original stereotypical depiction. “We weren’t adapting any recognizable version of Shang Chi’s story into a film,” screenwriter Dave Callaham revealed. “We were creating a story that, yes, has elements of some of the [comic] books but was really it’s own new thing.” 

“Shang-Chi” still features a multitude of martial arts and action pieces, pulling notes from stunt choreographers from Asia to make them realistic while maintaining that Marvel touch. Liu described the months of training he went through to embody the physicality of his character, while Awkwafina, aka Nora Lum, joked how she had an easier time preparing for the role. “It was all mental for me since there was really no physical aspect that she’s bringing to this movie,” Lum said with a laugh, “so it was mainly mental preparation, but it was really fun!” 

But beyond all the grandeur of a big franchise and the superhero action is a deep understanding that making this movie is quite personal for many of the cast and crew. “It really was surprisingly very emotional and special once I realized that I was in the middle of directing a scene with people that look like me for the first time in my career,” director Destin Daniel Cretton expressed, discussing what it was like on set. “I’ve never done that—I’ve never directed a scene full of people who look like me.” 

“I think it’s incredible that we have not just one, but like so many badass Asian characters,” Liu added. “There’s just so many different characters and they encompass the breadth of … so many Asian characters each with their own sets of experiences and dimensionality.” 

Even Meng’er Zhang, the actress from China who plays Shang-Chi’s younger sister, Xialing, acknowledged the importance of this film, saying, “Asian representation is so important and when they see this film, Asian kids who grew up in America—who grew up in western countries—can have a superhero that they can look up to.” 

The success of “Shang-Chi” is larger than fulfilling the box office and that is something that the stars, creators and audiences alike understand. “The ultimate goal,” Callahan insisted, “is to kick open a door that just makes more opportunities for more Asian stories but also any people of color or any underrepresented grouping of people to be presented in a very large scale way.” 

Since its premiere on September 3, “Shang-Chi” had finished the Labor Day weekend with over $90 million at the box office, not only debuting better than previously expected but also breaking the long weekend’s previous record set by 2007’s “Halloween.” 

Watch the full interview above to hear more about this groundbreaking film and be a part of history by watching “Shang-Chi and the Legend of Rings” in theaters now.