The Success of Shang-Chi: How Canadian TV has Become a Proving Ground for Movie Makers

The new blockbuster Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings is set to be one of the biggest hits for Marvel since Avengers: Endgame in 2019. The long-awaited film raked in more than $350 million at the box office in its first month alone and was also met with a solid critical reception, with critics praising the screenplay, direction, and acting performances.

Interestingly, various key members of the Shang-Chi team earned their stripes while working in the Canadian television industry, which has been historically overshadowed by the gargantuan presence of Hollywood across the border. Could this be the start of a new era for Canadian filmmaking?

Canada: What Is It Known For?

Stereotypically, Canada is renowned for things like its prolific presence across sports. For example, the Canadian female soccer team won gold at the Olympics this year and will now embark on their National Women’s Team Celebration Tour. They’re synonymous with a culture of niceness and delicacies like Poutine, but not always associated with high-calibre blockbusters.

Yet, over the last decade, Canada has certainly put itself on the map within the entertainment industry. Canadian producers, writers, and actors have been responsible for the meteoric rise of sitcoms like Schitt’s Creek, Trailer Park Boys, Kim’s Convenience, and Orphan Black, all massively popular shows that have gone on to boast huge fan bases. Especially in the case of Orphan Black, fan demand has driven the development of spin-offs and the binge-worthy quality of the shows has led to overnight success for many of the stars.

Now with Shang-Chi making waves across the globe, it seems that Canada is beginning to establish a more competitive status within the entertainment industry.

Simu Liu Cut His Teeth in Canada

As a result of Shang-Chi’s success, Simu Liu’s life has changed drastically; the star has already been propelled into Hollywood on the back of his performance. After witnessing the transformative effect that Iron Man and Captain America had on the careers of Robert Downey Jr. and Chris Evans, Liu’s career trajectory is looking to benefit as a result of his involvement with the production. Already a fan favourite, the martial artist is likely to crop up in numerous other Marvel titles over Phase Four and beyond.

Liu’s rise has been an impressive one, and not long ago he was a virtually unknown actor cutting his teeth on Canadian TV. He’s known for his roles in Blood and Water between 2015 and 2016, and Kim’s Convenience from 2016 to 2021. Thanks to his likeable personality and powerful onscreen presence, Liu did enough to earn a key role in the greatest film franchise on the planet.

Liu isn’t the only Canadian actor to have made a name for themselves in the country’s TV industry. Dan Levy is another example of someone who has found major success, mainly down to his work as a writer, producer, and actor on Schitt’s Creek.

Canadian Entertainment Industry in Good Health

Judging by the rapid rise to fame for both actors, and the fact that various other Canadian productions are in the works, it’s clear that Canadian TV is in good shape. Nonetheless, Canada’s competitive edge within the entertainment industry doesn’t end there. 

The entertainment industry in Canada is a model that other countries are eyeing enviously, with gaming at the forefront of that. There are numerous famous developers based in Canada, with Ubisoft, Eidos, and EA all having offices in the country. Canada has gained a reputation over the years as a haven for studios, due to the fact that the government makes it easy for these firms to operate at low costs. The online gambling sector is another that countries like the USA want to copy. There are now so many casinos to choose from, players turn to aggregators to find the best online gambling sites. The bonuses that are being used to allure players underline the thriving nature of the sector in the country.

One applaudable aspect of the gaming sector in Canada is the fact that these developers exist independently. Unfortunately, many of the film and TV productions coming out of Canada are only made possible because filmmakers have chosen to go with an intertwined approach in which most major films are co-productions with Hollywood. With financial backing, it’s possible to launch Canadian talent into the stratosphere. However, without this, the outcome is less favourable.

There’s a promising future ahead for Canadian TV and film: clearly, there’s an abundance of domestic talent just waiting for the right platforms to give them representation. It’s important to remember that despite being overshadowed so often by America, there are some hugely famous directors from Canada, with James Cameron one of the most successful filmmakers who ever lived in terms of box office earnings.

Shang-Chi is only going to draw more attention to the Canadian entertainment industry, and filmmakers could look to it to handpick other stars for future productions. It’s definitely a good time to be an actor in Canada.

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