Stu and I watched Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings this evening, and I'm overwhelmed with how happy it made me – how periodically aware I became of how much I was enjoying it, how tightly I was gripping Stu's arm at tense scenes, how often I needed to pause and rewind it because Tony Leung's line delivery made me inhale chocolate ice cream into my lungs.
My favourite MCU films tend to be grounded in their family dynamics, in the need to recover or heal from elements of lineage and inheritance; perhaps unsurprisingly, these are also the films that have something to do with diaspora, with the complexities of one's ancestry existing across multiple borders, with what gets passed from parent to child along with names and food. Shang-Chi is the MCU film I've enjoyed most since Thor: Ragnarok, and while I'm still brimming with it and not really here for analysis, I'm pretty sure I enjoyed it even more.
It didn't feel to me like an MCU film, for the most part; it had a visual style, a tender comic affect, a flashback-fluent pacing rooting it elsewhere. And it felt absolutely wonderful to watch a Marvel film that wasn't shouting out its connection to comics so much as to a specific articulation of diasporic dynamics: here are the strengths and the constraints you draw from family, here is where they come into conflict, here is where you need to figure out how to reconcile them to move through the world as a whole person.
But it was also wildly fun. The leads are delightful; the CGI didn't feel cut and pasted from previous MCU films; I felt whispers of the same staggering wonder I experienced when watching Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon for the first time. And I was aware of it, of this fierce bubbling joy, throughout, at things that were allowed to be beautiful as well as just ... big, possessed of a more sinuous grace and loveliness than I was expecting from posters and trailers. The things this film does with water! My heart's still singing with it.
Recognizing that today's the first day that it was available on Disney+, I want to hold off on spoilers, so I just want to ask – have you seen any good films lately? Anything that's made you feel incredibly good or profoundly moved or extraordinarily astonished? I'd love to know! Sound off in comments!
Wishing you a wonderful weekend,