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Things We Saw Today: Everyone Is Obsessed With Tony Leung in Shang-Chi

Tony Leung strikes a pose with the ten rings as Wenwu in 'Shang-Chi'

***some mild Shang-Chi spoilers ahead***

Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings is a romp of a Marvel superhero movie, expanding the MCU considerably in character, scope, and story.

While the cast as a whole is strong and gives it their all, the Internet consensus is that veteran actor Tony Leung Chiu-wai is the MVP. I saw Shang-Chi last night and couldn’t take my eyes off of him for a second.

The Hong Kong-born Leung, 59, is a superstar in Asia and one of the most acclaimed actors in the world, with a decades-long career in television and film (he’s also a singer because there is nothing this man cannot do). Leung has frequently collaborated with director Wong-kar Wai and appeared in seven of his movies, including Chungking Express and In the Mood For Love.

In 2000, In the Mood For Love burst onto the international scene, with Leung winning Best Actor at the Cannes Film Festival for his role in a movie hailed as one of the century’s best. Leung takes center stage in movies like Lust, CautionInfernal Affairs2046, and The Grandmaster. He also starred alongside Jet Li in 2002’s Hero, the first Chinese-language film to debut at #1 in the American box office.

Throughout a glittering career spanning from the 1980s, Leung has racked up awards and praise. So it’s no surprise that he would steal every scene he’s in throughout Shang-Chi. 

The thing is that Leung doesn’t actually need to “steal” the scenes. The whole movie often seems built around him and his captivating presence. His character Xu Wenwu is the most compelling in the film and one of the best Marvel movie antagonists to date. An extended introduction that kicks off the movie is all about Wenwu, making him the focus of our attention from the start. This is Wenwu’s world and the rest of us are just living in it.

That’s an emerging take not just from me but in many, many reactions to Shang-Chi seen on social media and in reviews of the film. Let’s take a tour of the excitement and, well, lustful gazing that Leung’s Shang-Chi turn is inspiring online.

It’s delightful to watch Leung be cool as a cucumber in the requisite Marvel promotional material.

Vulture posits that the Shang-Chi is “Tony Leung’s Marvel movie” and that there’s “something cruel” about sending Simu Liu up against him.

I think Leung makes everyone around him in Shang-Chi even better by the sheer force of presence he exudes. The dazzling heights of his acting also turn a role that could have been cartoonish into a richly layered character study. Marvel Studios may not be perfect, but they’re often spot-on in casting, and Leung will go down in history as an absolute triumph.


While you’re here, may we suggest this new profile on Leung by author Alexander Chee? Also, have you seen this photoshoot?

(image: Marvel Studios)

Here are some other things that we saw today although we’re mostly just thinking about Tony Leung:

  • Reservation Dogs, a series that we love, has been renewed for a second season on FX/Hulu. (via GeekTyrant)
  • Game Boy and Game Boy Color games will be heading to Nintendo Switch Online. (via Eurogamer)

  • Christopher Lloyd stars in a live-action Rick and Morty promo. (via Comicbook)

What did you see out there today?

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Kaila Hale-Stern (she/her) is a content director, editor, and writer who has been working in digital media for more than fifteen years. She started at TMS in 2016. She loves to write about TV—especially science fiction, fantasy, and mystery shows—and movies, with an emphasis on Marvel. Talk to her about fandom, queer representation, and Captain Kirk. Kaila has written for io9, Gizmodo, New York Magazine, The Awl, Wired, Cosmopolitan, and once published a Harlequin novel you'll never find.