After finding limited success in Canadian television shows like Kim’s Convenience, birthday boy Simu Liu has burst into international fame with the Marvel movie, Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings. Thanks to Disney-Marvel marketing machinery and the film’s critical and commercial success, his is now a globally known face.
When he was hired for the role, however, Liu was excited more for the character itself and earning the honour of playing the first Asian superhero in MCU than the source material. The reason was the inherent racism behind the very origin of the character.
In an interview preceding Shang-Chi’s release, Liu spoke to indianexpress.com about how he prepared for the role mentally. He said he avoided comics because of the way the stories involving the Chinese-American superhero was written.
He said that early Shang-Chi comics were written by white people and “they didn’t necessarily understand an authentic Asian-American experience. So the character that came out… it never seemed like he was three-dimensional.”
He went on to add that Shang-Chi felt less like an actual Chinese character and more like how most Americans think Chinese talk and behave. Liu explained, “He was very serious, spoke mostly in mystical proverbs and, didn’t feel fleshed out. So we crafted this all new character and story. And it was this story about family that we thought was more important than then chasing after comic books or being authentic to the source material.”
Shang-Chi was created by writer Steve Englehart and artist Jim Starlin and first debuted in 1973. He was made to look like Bruce Lee, the martial arts legend who was all the rage in those days and his personality was limited to the fact that he was an expert hand-to-hand combatant.
Despite the character’s racist origins, however, Liu loved slipping into the Shang-Chi costume, which is brand new and especially created for the movie.
He told us, “I knew how rare it was to have an Asian person putting on a superhero outfit, there really hasn’t been that many,” he gushed, adding, “I really enjoyed putting on the suit also because it was brand new. It was not like based on anything in the comics. I think it symbolises our new origin story and that we were able to basically refresh this a little outdated, 50-year old character. I’m really, really excited for the world to see it.”