Shang-Chi and the LOTTR: A better-than-expected origin story

Daniel Lubofsky
9 min readSep 6, 2021

When the film was announced and as the trailers began to drop, I wasn’t exactly counting down the days to the release of Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings.

Call me naive or uninformed (cuz I probably am), but I felt like this was going to be a standard action thriller with your generic action thriller CGI battle ending for a superhero without any powers or abilities, “only” a mastery of martial arts. I thought the primary appeal of this film would be its predominantly Asian cast.

Well, I’m happy to report I was wrong. I enjoyed this movie for what it was: A great origin story with unique action, a compelling villain, and a main character I can’t wait to see more of in future MCU projects.

With that…


Biggest takeaway: Xu Wenwu joins the club of good MCU villains

If I can confidently utter some version of the following phrase, I know Marvel has created a compelling villain within its cinematic universe.

“I don’t like the way you’re going about trying to complete your goal, but I understand why you’re doing it.”

Loki. Vulture. Hella. Killmonger. Zemo. Thanos. Others I’m probably blanking on. Their nefarious actions are rooted in reasons you can actually sympathize with. Getting that part of the plot right is the first step towards building a compelling villain (which ultimately makes for a better film), and Shang-Chi does that with Xu Wenwu.

Yeah, the leader of the Ten Rings wasn’t exactly a saint before the events of this movie. It wasn’t like the voice of his dead wife drove him to create and led a worldwide terrorist organization, so it’s hard to shed a tear when he bites the dust. But everything he does in this movie, from bringing his kids home to opening the gates of hell, is done for a reason I think we can all get behind. He truly believes his wife is behind that door. He’s wrong, but he was also tricked, and you can understand how the potential to reunite with someone you thought you lost forever could drive you to do extreme things.

Daniel Lubofsky

I write about the NBA, MCU, other movies/shows and any other topic I feel like.