The MCU has introduced fans to a dazzling variety of colorful and memorable characters, starting with the eccentric tech genius Tony Stark back in 2008’s Iron Man, with many more heroes following suit since then. After 2019’s The Avengers: Endgame, meanwhile, MCU fans got to meet the new #1 martial arts hero, Shang-Chi.
Shang-Chi wasn’t there to help the Avengers fight Thanos’ armies or take on Ultron, but he made up for lost time by starring in one of the MCU’s finest origin stories, complete with thrilling action sequences and deep character arcs. Shang-Chi as a person is easy to like and cheer for, but even so, there are some less savory, or simply disappointing, aspects to his character as well. The worst parts of Shang-Chi definitely hold him back a little.
10 Shang-Chi’s Hero Costume Is Bland
Most heroes in the MCU have cool superhero costumes of their own, such as Captain America’s star-spangled outfit, Ant-Man’s size-shifting outfit, or Black Panther’s cat-themed Vibranium suit. Not all suits can be that cool, but even so, Shang-Chi falls a bit short in this department.
Shang-Chi’s costume may not be gaudy or impractical like some comic costumes, but on the other hand, its design is forgettable at best and doesn’t say much about Shang-Chi’s personality. It wouldn’t be much fun to cosplay as him.
9 Shang-Chi Has A Bland Personality, Too
Some MCU heroes have colorful and memorable personalities, such as the goofball Star-Lord, the obnoxious Drax, or the tough prince Thor of Asgard, not to mention wisecrackers such as Ant-Man and Iron Man. Not everyone needs such a loud personality, but even so, Shang-Chi falls short once again.
Shang-Chi is a respectable and likable fellow, but not much more than that, and by MCU standards, that’s disappointing. He is remembered for a few things, but his personality is not one of them. He’s not the type to captivate a crowd during a house party, at least.
8 Shang-Chi Has Forgettable Dialogue As Well
On a similar note to his forgettable personality, Shang-Chi also has serviceable but unremarkable dialogue in his debut movie. On the plus side, Shang-Chi is not crude, obnoxious, or painfully awkward, but then again, he rarely says anything really thought-provoking or memorable.
Captain America said, “I can do this all day.” Tony Stark said, “I am Iron Man.” Thanos said, “I am inevitable.” Shang-Chi said… not much in particular. His dialogue helped establish him as a kind and smart person, but not much more than that, and it’s a shame.
7 Shang-Chi Lacks Cool Gadgets
Shang-Chi lacks superpowers akin to Thor’s lightning or Captain Marvel’s cosmic energies, but he makes up for it with his stylish martial arts and resourceful fighting style, which is easily sufficient for a standalone MCU feature like Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings. But there could have been more.
Shang-Ch is handy with his fists, but as heroes like Batman demonstrate, having cool gadgets really pushes things to the next level and totally makes up for a lack of superpowers. Alas, Shang-Chi didn’t do anything like that, and now that he’s got the Ten Rings, it’ll likely never happen.
6 Shang-Chi Lacks A Compelling Love Life
In all fairness, not every MCU or DC hero needs a whirlwind romance to be a compelling character — not everyone has their own Pepper Potts or Steve Trevor. All the same, a passionate romance can reveal a lot about a character’s personality, and it can make them much more sympathetic and vulnerable, too.
So far, though, Shang-Chi has no love life at all, and it seems he’s not on the market for a partner, either. It’s nice that he’s platonic friends with Katy, but otherwise, he’s got nothing. Perhaps in future installments, he’ll meet that special someone, and fans can cheer him on.
5 Shang-Chi Is Bad At Cover Names
This is a minor downside at most, though it still counts, and it made for an amusing exchange between Shang-Chi and his friend Katy on their plane ride to China. Shang-Chi wanted a cover name during his time in the United States, so he decided on the generic name “Shaun,” a common Irish name.
As Katy pointed out, “Shaun” sounds just like “Shang” without the “g,” and in her eyes, that made “Shaun” a weak and uncreative cover name that anyone could see through. It’s easy to see her point — he might as well have called himself Shaun-Chi.
4 Shang-Chi’s Family Drama Is Awfully Familiar
Shang-Chi has some serious family drama on his hands where his ancient warlord father Xu Wenwu and his younger sister Xu Xialing are concerned. It’s good to give the character some personal drama, but it fell short since the MCU is already rife with daddy issues, from Thanos and Ego to Howard Stark and beyond.
Shang-Chi’s drama with his warlord father was serviceable for the movie, but it still feels routine by now, which lessened the drama for Shang-Chi. If Shang-Chi wants to deal with his daddy issues, he should take a number and wait his turn in the lobby. He’s got plenty of company.
3 Shang-Chi Hasn’t Fought Alongside Other MCU Heroes Yet
This particular downside isn’t actually the character’s fault — sometimes, the worst aspects of a character are a result of the story itself, not the character’s decisions or attitude. Being a newcomer to the MCU, Shang-Chi the hero simply hasn’t had the chance to fight alongside other superheroes yet, and that’s understandable.
Shang-Chi did fight with his allies against his father and the Dweller-in-Darkness in the realm of Ta Lo, but that’s hardly the same. MCU fans are anxious to see this new hero fight as a team with Captain America, the Guardians, Ant-Man, or perhaps Captain Marvel already and see how they can mesh their skills.
2 Shang-Chi’s “Other Life” Is Boring
Some MCU heroes hide their status behind an ordinary “other life,” and sometimes, it can be compelling and intriguing. Anytime Iron Man isn’t fighting, he is the genius, playboy, billionaire, and philanthropist Tony Stark, but Shang-Chi can’t even begin to compare to that.
Shang-Chi’s “other life” involves him being a humble valet working in San Francisco, and by MCU standards, that’s pretty boring. After five minutes of seeing that, any MCU fan will be desperate to see Shang-Chi don his hero costume and start throwing some punches.
1 Shang-Chi Wasn’t Pushed To The Brink
Shang-Chi did face many challenges in his standalone movie, to be sure, but he wasn’t truly pushed to the limit, and that holds the character back somewhat. Heroes like Captain America, Black Panther, and even Bucky Barnes are exciting and intriguing when they have lost everything or face utter defeat after all.
But not Shang-Chi. While he faced steep odds in his movie, it never really felt like he was in that much peril, and his character wasn’t tested all that much. Put another way, he had it relatively easy in his movie, and that’s no fun. To test his mettle, fans need to see Shang-Chi hanging on by a thread.
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About The Author
Louis Kemner (3967 Articles Published)
Louis Kemner has been a fan of Japanese animation since 1997, when he discovered Pokemon and Dragon Ball Z in elementary school. Now he’s a bigger anime/manga fan than ever, and is ready to share what he knows with readers worldwide. He graduated high school in 2009 and received his Bachelor’s in creative writing from UMKC in 2013, then put his skills to work in 2019 with CBR.com. He’s always looking for a wonderful new anime to watch or manga series to read.