TV Review – “Marvel Studios Assembled: The Making of Shang-Chi” Further Proves the MCU has its Next Big Star

Marvel Studios Assembled continues to give us a look behind the scenes into the making of our favorite Marvel Cinematic Universe projects. In honor of Disney+ Day, with Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings hitting the streaming service, the latest installment of the documentary series debuted today and shows us how this recent Marvel film and an exciting new hero were brought to life.

The first thing that absolutely stands out about this installment of Assembled is that Simu Liu is an absolute star. It opens with a heartfelt story from Shang-Chi himself about a job he had dressing up as Spider-Man for birthday parties because he could only play heroes that wore a full mask to hide that he was Asian. Simu endears himself to the audience in every way possible throughout this documentary.

One of the ways in which he does this, is talking about the incredible stunts we’ve seen in this movie. Not only does he show off his incredible athleticism and repeatedly show a level of excitement to perform as many stunts as he possibly can, but he also credits the stunt performers who worked on this film. It’s a great balance of amazing talent and humility.

The cherry on the sundae comes when we get to see footage of Liu being introduced as Shang-Chi at San Diego Comic-Con in 2019. He shares that, just months before this, he watched Avengers: Endgame in the theater as a fan and never imagined he would become a part of this universe.

One of the most interesting parts of this doc was certainly the training regimen that turned Liu into a superhero and martial arts expert. We as fans know that these huge, action-heavy Marvel films rely a great deal on CGI, but there is obviously a practical and physical component to the action as well. Getting to see the preparations for those big fight scenes and seeing what these actors have to go through is always exciting.

The focus isn’t all on Simu Liu though. In fact, it becomes apparent in the early going that this is the first Assembled that takes a look at a Marvel project with a cast and crew mostly consisting of people who are new to the Marvel Universe. Shows like WandaVision and Loki and movies like Black Widow had stars who had appeared in several films. In this case, the stars, the director and much of the team were brand new to a film of this scale. Getting to see them all going through this together was unique and a lot of fun.

One character the doc devotes some of its focus to is The Mandarin, and rightfully so. The Marvel team addresses the fact that the character has been teased throughout the history of the MCU, but had not been done any justice to this point. It’s nice to see that this plan was at least somewhat always in place, even when we got a seemingly botched version of the character all the way back in Iron Man 3.

Of course, they couldn’t talk about the cast and not mention Awkwafina. We don’t get to hear from her as much as a lot fans would like to see, but Simu does talk about the effortless chemistry they had while making this movie. We also get to see a lot of behind-the-scenes footage of the two of them filming together, and they often break out into laughter, showing the relationship the two of them clearly had.

It should come as no surprise any more, but somehow Assembled continues to blow us away by giving us a look at the incredible sets Marvel builds for these films. The cast talks about buildings with working plumbing and the details in the floor of buildings whose interior is not even seen in the film. It’s that kind of details that sets these films apart.

And speaking of detail, we also get an extended look at some of the costuming for the film and how these incredible costumes were created. For example, for Shang-Chi’s dragonscale suit, costumers attached about 14.000 hand-made scales to the suit. It’s unbelievable to see this amount of work being put into one costume, when so many more needed to be made as well.

There is also a large focus on the action in the film. We already talked about Simu handling as many stunts as he could, but we also get a look at some of the choreography and some of the inspirations fo the style of action we saw here, particularly in the bus sequence. Interestingly, the team talks about Jackie Chan films being a big inspiration for the style of these fight scenes, as many of them worked with Chan in the past.

Another thing that felt as though it had to be addressed, and was, is the temporary delay in production due to COVID-19. We’ve seen this in past iterations of Assembled, and this is mostly the same as those examples. It’s interesting to see how the production was affected, and just the right amount of time is spent on it here.

Overall, this might be the strongest installment of Assembled yet. This is a unique film with a very different type of cast and crew from what we’ve seen in other recent Marvel projects and that brings a different perspective to the documentary. Plus, it’s nice to see that the MCU has its next big star in place.

You can watch Marvel Studios Assembled: The Making of Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings on Disney+ now.

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