October 20, 2021

Weekly highlight: The new Shang-Chi movie

By Carla Devot
Simu Liu as Shang-Chi in the self-titled movie Shang-Chi (Source: Marvel Studios)

Shang-Chi is the representation that matters

The Marvel Universe is, for many people, the basis of their childhoods. What one repeatedly sees on a screen, easily becomes the unspoken norms of right or wrong. Places like Australia or the United-States welcome a lot of first and second-generation immigrants. Often, children growing up in those environments have to create their own idea of representation between the culture at home, and the one outside. 


From left to right, Awkwafina, Ronny Chieng and Simu Liu in Shang-Chi (Source: Marvel Studios)

Shang-Chi is the first Asian-American marvel lead hero. Movies and other stories can often use one's culture as tool for their own narratives. Here instead, Destin Daniel Cretton shows us the importance of  communities being proud of their heritage. Born from multi-cultural parents himself, Cretton pays tribute to immigrant families. 


Destin Daniel Cretton (Source: Jakes Giles Netter/Lionsgate)

The movie is primarily in Mandarin Chinese, and touches upon topics like grief, love, family, culture, identity and change. Identifying within a culture, as part of a diaspora, can be a challenging and difficult process. But here, the aim of the movie is to create an environment for all. It encourages and welcomes the ones who may feel left out, while giving them the space to grow at their own pace.

Meng’er Zhang, Simu Liu and Awkwafina in Shang-Chi (Source: Marvel Studios)

This movie is an important step in the journey of representation. BIPOC communities should be able to continue creating visible art and make sense of the world they live in. Shang-Chi should be "one of" and not the "the only" Asian-American marvel lead hero. Movies are more than simple entertainment, instead they are windows that show us how far our imagination is allowed to go.


Blank Round is a bridge between cultures, at the intersection between craft and heritage.

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