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I Love the Sibling Dynamic in Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings

Xialing and Shang-Chi

**Spoilers for Marvel’s Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings lie within,**

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Marvel has mastered the art, time and time again, when it comes to siblings. Starting with Thor and Loki and spanning through all of time and space with familial relationships in their universe, the Marvel Cinematic Universe is a constant source of siblings fighting with each other, and it is wonderful to see—and Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings nails it yet again.

When “Shaun” (Simu Liu) moves to San Francisco to run away from the responsibilities of having Wenwu (Tony Leung) as a father, he leaves behind his life as Shang-Chi, and that includes his little sister, Xialing (Meng’er Zhang). Xialing was not as important to Wenwu because he didn’t see her as someone he could train for the Ten Rings. Shang-Chi? He got the burden of his father’s attention thrust upon him while Xialing trained in the shadows.

Everything that Shang-Chi learned, Xialing taught herself. So, when Shang-Chi and Katy (Awkwafina) return to his home, he is confronted with the fact that Xialing has created a life separate from her father’s world and one that connects us back to so many other Marvel properties.

When Shang-Chi goes to the Golden Daggers, he learns that his sister is in charge of the betting game and that there are a wide range of MCU characters taking part in it. We see one of the Widows there, Wong is fighting the Abomination, and it ends up with Shang-Chi and Xialing fighting each other in true Marvel sibling fashion.

While I love my Marvel siblings, I do think that Xialing’s anger towards her brother is the most justified of them all. He left her and never came back after lying to her face. She was on her own with a father who clearly didn’t care about her, and so, seeing her brother return and need her help? I understand why she’s not happy with him, but I also understand why she is willing to do so anyway.

Being the younger sister, especially of an older brother, is a different ball game entirely when there are gendered expectations that go along with it, and I love how Shang-Chi balances Xialing’s independence with her complicated relationship with her brother leading to her finally getting what she always wanted: women to train alongside the men of the Ten Rings.

And sure, they have a common “enemy” in their father, but they still are willing to work together and learn about their mother’s home in Ta-Lo and their connection through her while there. And yes, I absolutely loved watching the two look out for each other and fight side by side, and I hope that we’ll get to see more of them both in the future of the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

But true to form, Marvel hit the nail on the head with the sibling dynamic between both Shang-Chi and Xialing, because Xialing’s upset over his abandonment isn’t just one-sided. Shang-Chi realizes that what he did was wrong and does try to fix their relationship in a way that is rarely seen in the MCU. Normally, they fight and fight and fight until one cracks, and then the siblings are on the same side, so I like the switch between these two in Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings.

(image: Marvel Entertainment)

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Author

Rachel Leishman
Rachel Leishman (She/Her) is an Assistant Editor at the Mary Sue. She's been a writer professionally since 2016 but was always obsessed with movies and television and writing about them growing up. A lover of Spider-Man and Wanda Maximoff's biggest defender, she has interests in all things nerdy and a cat named Benjamin Wyatt the cat. If you want to talk classic rock music or all things Harrison Ford, she's your girl but her interests span far and wide. Yes, she knows she looks like Florence Pugh.

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