Marvel’s Lack of Promotion for Shang Chi and The Legend of Ten Rings


Lucy Cericola, Entertainment Writer

In recent months, Marvel has faced immense backlash from fans who are angry about the lack of publicity for Shang Chi and the Legend of Ten Rings, which released on September 3rd.

“I’m not even a big Marvel fan, but I heard about Black Widow and Wandavision,” says Wilmington Friends student Ali Sanfrancesco ‘25. “I heard nothing about Shang-Chi.”

Fans were quick to point out the unequal distribution of marketing between Shang-Chi and other Marvel productions released in 2021. Many took to their social media platforms to express their frustration with the lack of hype, which some linked to a Eurocentric bias.

“The fact that Shang-Chi is like the least hyped Marvel movie I’ve ever seen feels racially motivated…,” writes one user on Tiktok. 

“We, Asians, get our first ever Asian-led Marvel film and @Marvel isn’t doing anything to promote it,” says another on Twitter. “Tweeting a poster isn’t enough. Please promote Shang-Chi like you promoted Black Widow.”

Additional criticism was expressed when Disney CEO Bob Chapek called the theater release strategy of Shang-Chi an “interesting experiment”. To this statement, Simu Liu, the actor behind Shang-Chi responded with, “We are not an experiment. We are the underdog; the underestimated. We are the ceiling-breakers. We are the celebration of culture and joy that will persevere after an embattled year.”

Simu Liu’s reference of an “embattled year” holds social relevance, considering the rise in anti-Asian hate crimes amidst the pandemic. According to MSNBC, an analysis released by the Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism at California State University in San Bernardino reported that hate crimes targeting Asian people rose by nearly 150% in 2020.

Shang-Chi and the Legend of 10 Rings is the first and only Marvel movie with an Asian lead, and one of only three Marvel movies with a main character who is a person of color.

This is not the first time that Marvel has been under fire for its marginalization of characters of color. An article published by Forbes magazine highlights the skewed demographic distribution of Marvel Cinematic Universe characters, showing that 61% of Marvel characters are white, while only 6% are of East or South Asian descent.

Several movies with main characters of color still marginalize these characters by making them sidekicks or side characters to the white main lead, as seen in Iron Man, Captain Marvel, and Spider-Man.

Numerous Marvel actors have critiqued the industry’s predominantly white crew and overall inequality of representation in the past.

“It really bothered me that I’ve done seven Marvel movies where every producer, every director, every stunt person, every costume designer, every PA, every single person has been white.” said Anthony Mackie in a 2020 interview with Variety.

Despite the supposed lack of publication, Shang-Chi did extremely well in the box-office, grossing a total of $94 million dollars in its opening weekend in addition to breaking the box-office record for a Labor Day release.

“As a Marvel fan, I’m very happy that it [Shang-Chi] did so well in theaters,” says WFS Freshman Anya Agarwal ‘25. “I think it just goes to show that despite the overall lack of promotion, we were all able to come together to support this film.”