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You had me with two words:
Wait, Marvel premier + insane martial arts fighting. Ok, take all my money.
Shang-Chi is the newest installment in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and yeah, we're big fans of the fantasy worlds the MCU has given us over the past decade. So naturally, we came out of the deep forest to watch Marvel's newest hero battle assassins, dragons, and inner demons.
Other than being in total fanboy mode, we learned a few new roundhouse kicks and that it's better to unclinch your fist when it's time to go toe-to-toe with your villainous dad.
Oh, wait, sorry. Yes, we picked up a few new moves and we also took away some life insights we thought we'd pass along:
(warning: spoilers ahead if you haven't seen the movie. Proceed at your own risk)
Growing up under a power-hungry mass-murdering supervillain can be quite the pill to swallow. A quick recap of our hero's upbringing: Shang-Chi was groomed as an assassin in the Ten Rings, a shadow organization set on global domination, was ordered to kill the people responsible for his mother's death, bolted to start a new life where he earned his keep parking cars until said terrorist organization comes calling for his magical family necklace. Oh, and then gets beat down by his sister in their quick family reunion.
Anyone could understand if Shang-Chi turned out bad. If he decided to follow in his family's footsteps. Or quit and ran away. But nah, that's not inspiring. Instead, he shakes off the past and decides to be the person the world needs.
The way you choose to lead your story is yours to control. You can't control everything or how others decide to be, but you can decide how you approach your place in the world. You aren't controlled by all the decisions leading up to this moment. This moment is yours. Make the right choices to carry out the legacy you want.
We don't get to choose where we come from. We could have a flawless bloodline or a complete disaster show. Most of us have something in-between. Shang-Chi, well, he was dealt quite the upbringing hand: one dash maniacal warlord and a pinch of a warrior goddess. Several times in the film, he tries to run away from his past - particularly the "bloody, my-father-is-a-generational tyrant-past." However, he gets reminded that he can't run from that knowledge, that he is both his father and his mother. He is their DNA. He is their legacy. But that doesn't have to define him. And it doesn't have to define us. No matter our circumstances, our history - we can accept where we come from and choose to be driven by the good parts of us. Of course, we will deal with our dark sides. Of course, we will fall, make mistakes, break hearts and hurt others. But it shouldn't end there. And it shouldn't be our only story. Like Shang-Chi, we can choose to lead with the good. It may not mean saving the world, but it could make a difference in your--and someone else's--life.
The loudest. The strongest. The most aggressive and boastful. These are usually the ones sitting at the winner's table. Brute force. Power. You know, aka being a jerk. When Shang-Chi's father Wenwu discovered the mystical realm Ta-Lo, he was astonished by his inability to overpower Ying Li (Shang-Chi's mother) with his ten rings and power attacks. She calmly and effectively subdued him with precise movements, counter-attacks, and by calling the wind at her disposal. Later, as Shang-Chi prepares to battle his father, he learns the ways of his mother's fighting ability and how to overcome the sheer force and fear in order to save the world.
It's not always the loudest or strongest that wins. We don't have to exert pressure all the time. Sometimes, it's best to calm down, take a deep breath, assess your situation, and let your inner soul guide you.
Be smart. Be brave. Be like the gentle wind.
Katy is Shang-Chi's humorous, yet fiercely loyal friend. I mean, what kind of person signs up for a cross-planet, multi-dimensional trip with trained assassins on your trail at the drop of a hat? Pretty bold. And while she bears no training, no previous fighting experience, or anything to suggest she can handle herself, she plunges headfirst into the fray. In the movie's major battle, she finds herself wanting to lend a helping, albeit mightily unqualified, hand to the Ta-Lo warriors against the film's big bad, the Dweller in the Darkness. After some quick on-the-job bow and arrow training, she dashes right into the fray, arm poised, arrow raised, ready to help. She even lands a major blow to the soul eater's neck, enabling Shang-Chi to ultimately prevail against evil.
Life isn't always clean and sometimes you might find yourself in the middle of a battle you aren't prepared for. It's no time to listen to the whispers of self-doubt or slide down the path of inadequacy. Sometimes, the only option you have is to jump right in, adrenaline pumping, neck hairs tingling, eyes wide and bright. Pick up your bow, join the fight, take aim, and go for the win.