How long has it been since the last Marvel Cinematic Universe movie that was actually set in the present MCU timeline? Far too long. Although Black Widow was officially part of Phase 4, Shang-Chi is when things start to pick up for the MCU.
At the moment, we already know a couple of things about Shang-Chi. We know that the directors wanted no one else but Simu Liu in the titular role. We also know that it takes place in the present-day MCU timeline as opposed to being set post-Snap or pre-Blip. Lastly, early reviews told us that Shang-Chi is an, overall, great MCU film.
Fast forward to today and more critics finally got the chance to give their two cents about the upcoming MCU film ahead of its theater-exclusive premiere on September 3, 2021.
Here's a round-up of all the Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings reviews:
"Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings" conjures a slick addition to the Marvel Cinematic Universe, one that owes less to the comics than most of its predecessors. The movie not only strikes a welcome blow for inclusion with its predominantly Asian cast, but deftly juggles epic world building with lighter comedy in a way that should appeal to audiences, depending on how many can be lured back to theaters at this moment. - Brian Lowry
"Even with its flaws, Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings is a signal of the MCU's increasing willingness to break out of the mold and to simply try new things." - Mason Downey
"OG A-listers like Downey, Evans and Scarlett Johansson departing and making way for Liu – alongside other new headliners like Anthony Mackie and Florence Pugh – gives the MCU the refreshing kick in the face it needs, even if the “Shang-Chi” plot sometimes seems stuck using the same old moves." - Brian Truitt
"Interestingly enough, for all its cameos and references to the larger MCU, Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings isn’t looking for external validation for its existence. Shang-Chi’s story stands completely on its own, and you almost forget that he – and Katy – are set to become important players in the MCU." - Francesca Rivera
Is Shang-Chi worth risking going into the theaters for?
Most reviews of Shang-Chi seem to be positive. Although there are outliers, the fact that the movie has a 92% rating on Rotten Tomatoes suggests that it should do well among general audiences. The only question is how much the movie will pull in once it's shown in theaters.
As a theater-exclusive movie, the closest comparison to Shang-Chi is Free Guy. The Ryan Reynolds-led flick pulled in a pandemic-best $28.4 million in the box office for an original movie. It was also able to stave off the dreaded "second-week hold", adding another $18.8 million in the local box office for its second weekend. In total, Free Guy has secured $112 million in the global box office with a sequel now confirmed.
Expectations for Shang-Chi are higher compared to Free Guy because it is part of the MCU. We wouldn't be surprised if Disney finds its performance disappointing if it fails to come close to what Black Widow pulled in on its opening weekend.
As the first of Disney's theater-only experiments for the MCU, a lot hinges on the success of Shang-Chi in the local and global box office.