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From Hero To Villain: Shang-Chi’s Simu Liu Responds To Landing Major Gig Opposite JLo

Simu Liu as Shang-Chi in bus fight scene
(Image credit: Marvel Studios)

It's generally not the aspiration of actors to solely be seen in one kind of role, and many make concentrated efforts in their careers to demonstrate their range. Simu Liu, less than a year after his star-making turn in Shang-Chi And The Legend Of The Ten Rings, now finds himself on that familiar path. Audiences are only just starting to see him as a big screen good guy – a standout hero in the Marvel Cinematic Universe no less – but he recently signed on to play a villain in the upcoming Netflix thriller Atlas, and he is demonstrably pumped for the part.

News broke yesterday that Simu Liu will be starring alongside Jennifer Lopez and Sterling K. Brown in the new sci-fi streaming movie and the actor took to his personal Twitter account to celebrate. He's clearly stoked about the opportunity to work opposite a couple of terrifically talented people, but his message seems to suggest that he is particularly excited about portraying a villain. The Shang-Chi star wrote,

Excited to be joining this phenomenal cast of humans as I ENTER MY VILLAIN ERA MUAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAH

It's an old aphorism among performers that it's more fun to play the villain, and Simu Liu is clearly brimming with anticipation for his opportunity to swim in that pool. 

In Atlas, Simu Liu will be playing an android with artificial intelligence that, serving as a solider, determines that the only way to end war on Earth is to eliminate the human race. With this description, it doesn't sound like the star will get many opportunities for mustache-twirling (or bellowed evil laughs for that matter), but it is a character that isn't necessarily shackled by morality, and one could imagine Liu having fun portraying that archetypal coldness.

The upcoming Netflix movie is being directed by Brad Peyton, whose last feature was the 2018 video game adaptation Rampage starring Dwayne Johnson. 

We haven't seen Simu Liu in a feature film since the release of Shang-Chi, but that drought will soon end with a flood, as he has been exceptionally busy as of late and has completed work on a number of films. He has a number of movies presently in post-production, including One True Loves with Phillipa Soo, Hello Stranger with Robbie Amell and Jordana Brewster, Arthur The King with Mark Wahlberg and Nathalie Emmanuel, Barbie with Margot Robbie and Ryan Gosling (a project that apparently required some waxing). 

In addition to Atlas, he has the developing Shang-Chi 2 in the works, continuing his adventures in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and Last Breath – a drama based on the documentary of the same name set to star Woody Harrelson and Djimon Hounsou.

Aron Eli Coleite, who has history with Netflix as the creator of Locke & Key, is writing the most recent draft of the screenplay for Atlas, and it's not reported when the movie is planning to go into production. If you're really hungry to see more of the Shang-Chi star right now, allow us to recommend our Simu Liu What To Watch guide for perusal.

You can learn about all of the films set to be released in what remains of the year – including original Netflix movies –  with our 2022 Movie Release Calendar.

Eric Eisenberg
Assistant Managing Editor

NJ native who calls LA home and lives in a Dreamatorium. A decade-plus CinemaBlend veteran who is endlessly enthusiastic about the career he’s dreamt of since seventh grade.