The MCU had gradually increased its comedic elements over the past 9 years, but Awkwafina’s role in Shang-Chi is finally bringing some real comic relief.
Awkwafina’s character in Shang-Chi and the legend of the ten rings, Katy Chen, solves an issue Marvel has had for 9 years regarding comic book discharge. Since the MCU’s Phase 1, she has dominated pop culture with hit superhero films that peaked in 2012 The Avengersthat instantly changed the landscape of blockbuster films. Almost overnight, the superhero film became a cultural juggernaut, and shared universes became one of the most marketable endeavors for film studios. Despite its success, however, the MCU does not go without criticism. One of the most common complaints is an overabundance and imbalanced use of Comic Relief. While not all viewers have problems with the MCU’s humor, the problem was solved by Awkwafina’s performance, which was sincere, down to earth, and consistently funny.
2012 The Avengers is celebrated for numerous aspects, aside from the lofty task of combining four separate film franchises and balancing the main cast of six mighty Avengers. The film convinced the audience, among other things, with fast, funny dialogues, which often use humor to reduce the tension of borderline apocalyptic events and remind them that most heroes are completely normal people who became superheroes thanks to extraordinary circumstances. Like its Phase 1 predecessor, however The Avengers didn’t let his occasional lightness undermine his most serious moments, and kept the balance between drama and humor.
From Phase 2, MCU films began using comic book reliefs much more frequently. While most ensemble casts delegate the role of comic book relief to one or two characters (while ideally giving them room for maneuver and characterization), the MCU began using all available characters for that role. In some films, like Guardian of the Galaxy and Ant man, these are action comedies with a lot of serious moments, that’s appropriate, but the MCU has taken it too far THOR: Ragnarokwhose comedic attempts made him completely lack the gravitas and the basic understanding of his characters. Shang-ChiRefreshingly, Awkwafina had a perfect balance between humor and drama, as Awkwafina was the main source of comic relief, but not at the expense of characterization.
Awkwafina plays Katy Chen, Shang-Chi’s lifelong best friend and the character responsible for most of the film’s humor. Despite lacking superpowers and martial arts, Katy is as tenacious as any other superhero. She protects a young Shang-Chi (aka Shaun) in high school from tyrants and improvises methods to repel the most dangerous assassins of the Ten Rings. She’s also the source of the movie’s best gags, taking sports cars for jaunts as a valet, reprimanding Shang-Chi’s “Shaun” disguise, and ending the film with an abrupt cut to her, Shang-Chi and Wong singing karaoke The Best Aspect of Awkwafina’s performance, however, is that she was personable and had a clear bow, in addition to being one of the MCU’s best cartoon characters.
Katy not only offers comic relief, but also has a lot of conflicts and character developments of her own. After witnessing “Shaun’s” almost superhuman martial arts against a small band of ten-ring enforcers, Katy decides to follow her boyfriend to Macau and find out what he’s been hiding from her. More importantly, later in the film, Katy reveals that despite her proficiency in previous endeavors, she has struggled for years making decisions about a career and lifestyle. Katy’s character arc sees her forced by a life-or-death scenario to quickly pick up an ability and stick with it. The skill, as it turns out, is archery, which she uses to great effect against the Dweller-in-Darkness, making her indispensable for the heroes’ victory in the final act.
Katy, in particular, isn’t the only source of humor in the film, with characters like Wong, Jon Jon, and Shang-Chi themselves making for notable comedic moments. Even the antagonist The Mandarin sarcastically mocks his nickname in one scene. By being the main character of comic relief and mixing humor with many serious moments, Awkwafina Shang-Chi and the legend of the ten rings is the first Marvel film in years to properly balance its humor.
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