Marvel’s Shang-Chi Originally Wanted To Play Two Other Heroes

Simu Liu in Black Mirror

Spider-Man: Far From Home ended Phase Three for the Marvel Cinematic Universe, revealing how the denizens of the franchise have moved on following in the explosive events of Avengers: Endgame. Phase Four is going to be a very different place, with TV series and new faces helping to expand the shared universe. One of the new faces will be Asian superhero Shang-Chi, played by newcomer Simu Liu.

Simu Liu's casting was an exciting bit of information to come from Marvel's presentation at San Diego Comic-Con, along with the official announcement about

Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings. Liu is understandably psyched about his role, but it turns out that he had two other Marvel heroes in mind previously. An old interview recently resurfaced, where the actor explained which heroes he'd like to play in live-action. The first of which was the X-Man Sunfire. As he put it:

So one is Sunfire. So Sunfire is one of the way back, OG member of the X-Men, he just never made it into the movies, for some reason I can't imagine why. But his name is Shiro Yoshida, he has a really cool backstory where he is basically raised as a terrorist with very anti-American values and then goes to America to plan an attack. It fails and then he realizes what he's doing is wrong and he kind of reforms himself into a superhero. Actually when I first started out in this industry, because I knew the film roles wouldn't just fall into my lap, I started just writing things on a whim. And I sketched out this 12-part series of a Sunfire perspective show, and I still have those files. It's very bad, but I put a lot of time into it when I was 22 and just getting started.

It turns out that Simu Liu is a bonafide comic book nerd, so he should presumably take his role as Shang-Chi very seriously. He's so nerdy that he even wrote his own series about Sunfire years before he landed a role in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

Related: Chinese Audiences Are Thrilled About Marvel Casting Shang-Chi

Simu Liu's passion for comic book culture is sure to make the hardcore fandom very happy, as the role of Shang-Chi is seemingly in good hands. The 30 year-old actor have a reverence for the page, and he should do plenty of research to make his role in Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings as accurate as possible. Even if he had other superheroes in mind.

Despite the X-Men franchise's decade and change in theaters, Sunfire has never been a major character in any blockbusters. Simon Liu clearly takes umbrage with this, especially given the hero's impressive powers and fascinating backstory. But now that Disney has access to the X-Men, perhaps Sunfire will get his chance to join the MCU in the future.

In his same conversation with NBC in 2018, Simu Liu revealed another Marvel hero he had his eye on: Namor The Submariner. Fans have been waiting for years for Namor to be adapted into live-action and Liu is among those masses who are waiting for that to happen. As he put it:

And the other one I would love to play is Namor. Namor is probably a little bit more mainstream, he's a little more recognizable. He's kind of like the Marvel version of Aquaman. Depending on which comics you read he could be interpreted as Asian-American.

Simu Liu seemed to understand the importance of having an Asian Marvel superhero, and thought Namor's underwater adventures might be a great place for him as an actor. But the studio hasn't revealed any plans to bring Namor into the MCU, at least in Phase Four. Instead, Shang-Chi will break new ground for the property, and make Simu Liu a household name.

Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings is currently set to arrive in theaters on February 12, 2021. In the meantime, check out our 2019 release list to plan your next trip to the movies.

Corey Chichizola
Movies Editor

Corey was born and raised in New Jersey. Graduated with degrees theater and literature from Ramapo College of New Jersey. After working in administrative theater for a year in New York, he started as the Weekend Editor at CinemaBlend. He's since been able to work himself up to reviews, phoners, and press junkets-- and is now able to appear on camera with some of his favorite actors... just not as he would have predicted as a kid. He's particularly proud of covering horror franchises like Scream and Halloween, as well as movie musicals like West Side Story. Favorite interviews include Steven Spielberg, Spike Lee, Jamie Lee Curtis, and more.