Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings producer Jonathan Schwartz has addressed concerns over the film’s dark tone. The film, which marks the first leading Asian superhero in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, will bring new elements of mysticism and martial arts to the blockbuster superhero universe. It stars Simu Liu in the lead role and will hit theaters this weekend.
As the first Phase 4 film to center on an entirely new hero, Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings focuses its story on the titular Shang-Chi (Simu Liu). Raised as the perfect warrior from a young age, the film picks up with him living an unassuming life in America until he finds himself once again sucked into the orbit of the infamous Ten Rings organization. As a result, he once again comes face to face with his father, The Mandarin (Tony Leung), and is forced to confront his past. In addition to Liu and Leung, the cast also includes Awkwafina, Meng’er Zhang, Fala Chen, Florian Munteanu, and Michelle Yeoh.
With Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings poised for its theatrical debut this weekend, much has been said about the film’s willingness to go to dark places. In a recent interview with Comicbook.com, Shang-Chi producer Jonathan Schwartz addressed that darkness and framed it as a storytelling opportunity, rather than something to shy away from. Read his explanation below:
I think putting them in the headspace of young Shang-Chi … I assume that’s part of what you’re talking about when you talk about the darkness. It was exciting. It felt exciting. It felt visceral. It felt like we were really getting at something cool. So, in general, if there’s a moment or an idea or a feeling that scares us, we feel risk, we’re all like, ‘Oh, we’ll know we’ll always do it and go for it and run at it.’ And then, if it feels like you’ve gone too far, you can always pull back. But I think we’ve learned to kind of trust those feelings to keep us from impeding ourselves.
Though the film hasn’t formally been released yet, the early glimpses of Shang-Chi promise a layered story full of myriad emotions. There are plenty of laughs to go around in the trailers, as humor is fundamental to Marvel movies. At its core, however, the film revolves around the hero coming to terms with the abuse he suffered as a child while training to be a warrior. Given that backstory for the hero, it seems that Schwartz and the creative team behind the film saw an opportunity to do something “exciting,” even if it was a risk.
With all of that in mind, it’s reasonable to assume that the darkness of Shang-Chi could work to the film’s advantage. Movies like Black Panther and the Captain America franchise routinely delved into dark subject matter while still pushing the Marvel story forward, often to great effect. For many fans, the comic book genre works best when it addresses dark concepts head-on and doesn’t shy away from the brutality of a story. Now it looks like Shang-Chi is poised to continue that tradition for Marvel. Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings will debut in theaters on September 3.