‘Shang-Chi’ Continues Marvel’s Exploration of Father Issues

marvel shang chi father

Finally, the trailer for Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings dropped. We got our first look at Simu Liu in the titular role, as he tries to live his own life out of the shadow cast by his father Tony Leung‘s Wenwu. After a ten-year rest, his father calls upon him to take over the leadership of the Ten Rings. His return into the world he tried to leave behind will re-awaken some dormant issues between him and his estranged parent. Now, producer Jonathan Schwartz highlighted the focus

The core of Shang-Chi’s arc in the comics is really a family drama. That was something that Destin keyed into really early on in our conversations, the idea of taking this broken family and this really dark, even abusive family background and seeing what that does to a child over time.

This story isn’t the first time that Marvel Studios has explored a dark and abusive relationship like this. Avengers: Infinity War put quite a bit of focus on how Thanos turned his adoptive daughter into the perfect killing machine. Of course, it pushed her away from him, as his warped view of the world left a deep rift between them. Let’s not even get started on his abusive behavior towards Nebula and how that even destroyed any chance for his daughters to bond.


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Now, Thanos wasn’t the only father leaving a long-lasting scar on his child. Tony Stark’s journey was haunted by the sins of his father early on. The second entry in his trilogy highlighted that very legacy weighing down on Stark, who translated that into some rather destructive behaviors. Learning to overcome his issues allowed him to embrace his mentor role for Peter Parker. Now, unlike Gamora, he was able to make amends with his father in Avengers: Endgame even if Howard Stark had no idea he was talking to his son from the future. Still, it offered a more positive ending for Tony to take away and push him towards his final decision.

Marvel Studios wasn’t the only live-action adaptation in the Marvel family exploring family ties as a core anchor for their storytelling. Marvel TV gave us the ever-expanding family in Agents of SHIELD. The relationship between Phil Coulson and Daisy Johnson, especially during the second season while being hunted by her biological father. We witnessed her even sacrifice a potential relationship with him to ensure he doesn’t have to live with the nightmares of his own actions driven by desperation to find her. Daisy carried that weight with her with Coulson taking on that role she was missing.


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Now, an episode that hit home with me was in Daredevil. The close relationship between the Murdocks before tragedy would eventually separate them was laid out in just a few episodes. We see a father struggling to meet ends meet by doing the only thing he believes he can do. The weight of trying to take care of his son and ensure he doesn’t repeat his mistakes will tear at anyone’s heartstrings. In a way, the story of parentage and how it defines the next generation will continue carrying an important role in the MCU, as younger heroes take over legacy titles. It looks like Shang-Chi is kicking off a new generation of heroes with father issues.

Source: Entertainment Weekly

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