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Director: Destin Daniel Cretton Starring: Simu Liu, Awkwafina, Tony Leung, Michelle Yeoh, Fala Chen, Meng’er Zhang Running Time: 132 minutes


As the Marvel Cinematic Universe grows and branches out and builds ever more enormous, into television, into another Phase, into so many movies at this point that even diehards might have trouble counting, the balance between variety and formula becomes ever more precarious. Marvel want to give you something new, just not too new, and this can even be seen in the genres of their movies. Honestly Marvel is becoming more of a genre unto itself in audience minds as the years go by, which suits Feige, Disney and co – so Black Widow is a spy movie, until it isn’t, and now Shang-Chi similarly offers the variety of a big budget, live action blockbuster martial arts movie – except every time it really threatens to shift into that gear, it parks itself with a hard jerk back into Marvel mode. And while that has its moments too, they’re not always two great tastes that work great together in Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings.

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Director: Jon Watts Starring: Tom Holland, Michael Keaton, Marisa Tomei, Robert Downey Jr Running Time: 133 minutes


In recent years, the behind the scenes efforts of non-Marvel studios attempts to make films with Marvel characters could make compelling movie material all on its own. Specifically, comedy-of-errors movies. The chaos reportedly caused during the awful 2015 reboot of Fantastic Four by director Josh Trank (and his little dogs too) is one example. The leaked e-mail fiasco showing out-of-touch exec’s attempts to make an EDM-loving, humble-bragging hero that’s down with the kids for the ill-fated, ever spin-off proposing Amazing Spider-Man series is another. The lack of financial success made by the Andrew Garfield and Emma Stone-starring Spidey movies led to an “if you can’t beat them, join them” rethink and Sony drafted in Marvel Studios to help produce a reboot, with Sony retaining film distribution rights and Marvel masters Disney controlling merchandising rights. After a popular cameo in last year’s Captain America Civil War, Spider-Man: Homecoming sees Marvel’s most beloved comics character take centre-stage once again. From the orchestral arrangement of the classic 60’s Spider-Man cartoon theme that opens this film onwards, the effort to bring the character (or more cynically, the IP) back to its roots is clear. This is a younger, more innocent Spider-Man, and the film is refreshing for that, even while the creative constraints of being part of the MCU never go away.

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