Stereotypical or Empowering?

A Look Into the New Marvel Movie, “Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings”

Aaron Paik, Reporter

“Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings” was one of the most polarizing films of 2021. Reeling in around $247.6 million in gross revenue in its first two weeks and made possible by amazing performances from actors such as Simu Liu, Awkwafina, Michelle Yeoh, Tony Leung Chiu-wai, Meng’er Zhang and many more, this film has already solidified itself as a classic.

Quite noticeably, the film’s most prominent feature is the fact that it is a Marvel movie with an Asian cast. Because Asians and Pacific Islanders account for less than 6% of actors in Hollywood, many Asians finally felt represented by the release of this movie.

However, some Asians felt a sense of racism and believed that this film and its comic book took on a stereotypical outlook on Asian culture.

Some Marvel fans are upset by the original comic’s racist caricatures of Asians and, on the contrary, other die-hard fans are upset over the fact that the movie strays so far away from Shang-Chi’s comic book origins.

Fans question the roots of the story as many believed that the only reason why Shang-Chi was made was to mock Asians and exploit their culture rather than give them representation.

In the comics, Shang-Chi was colored a bright yellow color, which was obviously an attempt to show the stereotype that Asians are “yellow.”

Also, Shang-Chi’s father wasn’t even “The Mandarin’’ as shown in the film. His father was a character named Fu Manchu. He was a character made solely to profit off of Asian mockery.

Fu Manchu was an avaricious Asian man with squinty eyes and an elongated mustache that wanted to conquer the West and was referred to as the “Yellow Peril Incarnate in One Man.”

His villainry would come to instill fear into European and American nations, as Asians had still yet to assimilate to these countries.

Sax Rohmer, the racist creator of Fu Manchu and contributor to the Shang-Chi comics, created Fu Manchu only because an ouija board displayed a prophecy indicating he’d make a fortune off of a Chinese character.

Romher wrongfully portrayed Asian people as greedy aliens from foreign lands, rather than embracing Asian culture.

The racist portrayal of Asians fed into America’s fear of the rise of Asian culture and led misguided Western comic fans to grow cautious of Asians for unfounded reasons.

These tropes, for the better, were completely scrapped in the movie as Marvel wanted to make this film as least controversial as possible.

The movie empowered many Asians, since it was the first Marvel movie with a predominantly Asian cast. Additionally, the soundtrack featured music from Asian American artists and performers from Asia’s music industry.

For the first time, Asian comic book fans rightfully felt a sense of pride because of the movie’s rectified representation.

However, this would evidently leave ignorant Marvel fans upset over the drastic modifications of the original comic’s racist portrayal of Asians.

Despite the dispute about Shang-Chi’s discriminatory roots, Marvel did a great job discarding the racist concepts of the comics and incorporating traditional Asian elements in the movie, helping to diversify Hollywood.