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"Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings" cast (L-R) Simu Liu, Awkwafina, Michelle Yeoh and Fala Chen. Photo: Ian Gavan/Getty Images for Disney

The chips are stacked against Marvel’s new movie, "Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings," which opens this weekend.

Why it matters: The latest chapter in the MCU lands in theaters during a weakening economy due to a resurgence of COVID-19.

  • It also comes just a few days after deadly storms pummeled the Northeast, one of the most densely populated regions in the country.
  • Its fate in China, which makes up 10-20% of Marvel box-office sales, is currently unknown.

Shang-Chi is Hollywood’s first big-budget, Asian-led superhero film. Box office success during past, more typical holiday weekends would have clued Disney and Marvel Studios in on future investments.

  • Asian people are among the least represented minority groups in film and media.
  • The broader community has also become victim to near-daily, violent racist attacks since the start of the pandemic.

By the numbers: Disney, which owns Marvel, reportedly spent $150 million on the film.

  • An opening of $50 million to $60 million in the U.S. this weekend would be a solid benchmark for success, media analysts told CNN Business.
  • For context, Marvel’s reportedly $200 million “Black Widow” this year brought in $80 million its first weekend, before the Delta variant surge.

What they’re saying: "If we can show that we can actually hold our own ground opening weekend through the biggest film franchise in the world, that is going to unlock other opportunities in other major franchises, as well as independent films, for AAPIs to lead," Bing Chen, president of nonprofit Gold House, which consulted on the movie, told CNN Business.

The big picture: Representation means that this generation will have a new face to look up to and perhaps aspire to become.

  • After a screening of the film in New York City that Axios attended on Monday, Chinese-Canadian actor Simu Liu, who plays the title character Shang-Chi, said that growing up, he could only dream of becoming “a stunt guy that white guys beat up.”
  • “That’s as far as my mind would allow me to imagine," said Liu.

Go deeper: Marvel's Shang-Chi strikes at unique moment

Go deeper

Sep 9, 2021 - Podcasts

Brutal crackdowns as Afghanistan gets a new government

The Taliban yesterday announced the first members of a new temporary Afghan government. And as Axios’ national security reporter Zach Basu writes, the interim cabinet is made up of mostly “old-guard Taliban officials.”

  • Plus, disappointing jobs numbers with some glimmers of hope.
  • And, actor Simu Liu on turning a movie into a movement.

Guests: Axios' Zachary Basu, Kate Marino, and Hope King.

Credits: Axios Today is produced in partnership with Pushkin Industries. The team includes Niala Boodhoo, Sara Kehaulani Goo, Dan Bobkoff, Alexandra Botti, Nuria Marquez Martinez, Sabeena Singhani, and Michael Hanf. Music is composed by Evan Viola. You can reach us at podcasts@axios.com. You can text questions, comments and story ideas to Niala as a text or voice memo to 202-918-4893.

Go deeper:

Ben Geman, author of Generate
8 hours ago - Energy & Environment

Key clean power provision likely won't survive in Dems' spending bill

A construction worker walks along a dirt road at the Avangrid Renewables La Joya wind farm in Encino, New Mexico, on Aug. 5, 2020. Photo: Cate Dingley/Bloomberg via Getty Images

A pillar of Democrats' plans to speed deployment of zero-carbon electricity is likely to be cut from major spending and tax legislation they are struggling to move on a party-line vote, per multiple reports and a Capitol Hill aide.

Driving the news: The New York Times, citing anonymous congressional aides and lobbyists, reports that West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin (D) has told the White House he "strongly opposes" the Clean Electricity Performance Program.

Updated 10 hours ago - World

Fatal stabbing of British MP David Amess declared a terrorist incident

Police outside Belfairs Methodist Church in Leigh-on-Sea, England, on Oct. 15. Photo: John Keeble/Getty Images

Authorities have declared the death of David Amess a terrorist incident, hours after the Conservative Party lawmaker in the U.K. was fatally stabbed while meeting with local constituents in a church in eastern England on Friday.

The big picture: The Metropolitan Police has found "a potential motivation linked to Islamist extremism."