Was the “Shang-Chi” bus scene the MCU’s biggest fight scene?

The following story contains slight spoilers for Shang-Chi and the legend of the ten rings.

There has been a lot of terrific action (and a lot of “meh” action) in all 25 feature films and four Disney + series of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. While “Superhero” has ostensibly taken its own form as a genre, it’s also pretty reasonable to say that these movies and shows are “action” movies and shows at their core. And when we watch, we expect to be excited and captivated every moment. In Shang-Chi and the legend of ten sounds, we are reasonably entertained throughout the first part of the movie. But once Shang-Chi (Simu Liu) and Katy (Awkwafina) are approached by thugs on a bus seeking to grab Shang-Chi’s neck pendant, things take off in a different stratosphere.

The footage, which appears to show Liu doing much (if not all) of his own stunt work, is an instant marvel of action, fight choreography, and sound mixing / editing. We’ve seen a lot of fights already, and while these can be exciting, the impact doesn’t really kick in instantly. Thor: Ragnarok may be the best movie in the entire MCU, but when Thor takes out nameless villains in the opening scene with Mjolnir, we don’t exactly feel that action as much as we see cannon fodder at work.

In Shang-Chi‘s Bus Scene, the moment Shang-Chi reveals to Katy, the bad guys, everyone on the bus, and, yes, us viewers, we to feel this action. When we see every punch, kick and move up close, and hear the crunch and impact, it’s almost impossible to even think of looking away. This scene continues with so much; the back of the bus tears apart and Shang-Chi rushes to save him while taking on the bad guys in a bus that is literally off the downhill tracks.

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The only fight scene that really comes to mind instantly, at least at the melee level; you can’t really compare this kind of scene to the End of Game confrontation with Thanos, or whatever – is the Captain America: The Winter Soldier elevator scene. This scene, you may remember, is so loved by fans and Marvel powers alike, there’s a tease in it. End of Game when you almost start to think it might happen again. (Steve Rogers in an elevator with a group of HYDRA agents will have this effect).

It’s hard to say that either of these two legendary fight scenes is better than the other. Part of what makes the elevator scene so fascinating is the fact that it’s so fortuitous, so brutal. They are adult men who fight while moving in a extremely enclosed space, with the tension that precedes it really helping how awesome it is. Before the fight begins, Chris Evans gives one of the best line reads in the entire MCU: “Before we start, does anyone want to get off?” There really is no limit to this.

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Men’s health

The bus scene doesn’t have such a memorable one-liner of Liu or anything, but it does have a beautifully choreographed streak that lasts quite a while. It’s a sequence that took a lot of work, and who has everything in the right place at the right time. There is a moment when a spinning Shang-Chi battles some guys before circling around one of the bus poles and landing directly on the bus driver’s empty seat, bringing him back on track. I can’t speak for anyone else, but at that exact moment in the theater, my action fan / superhero heart left my body and rose; he didn’t come back until after the movie was over.

The film’s credits scenes make it clear that Shang-Chi has a great future in the MCU. That’s a good thing for that, because we could all watch fight scenes like this (and, really, all the melee fights throughout the movie) for a long time. And those sequences are only going to cool down and gain a larger scale – assuming Marvel keeps the same energy – as Shang-Chi meets more of the universe’s most popular heroes and villains.

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