How Simu Liu Actually Felt After Learning Marvel Was Hiring An Asian Cast For Shang-Chi

Simu Liu in Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings
(Image credit: Marvel Studios)

The Marvel Cineamtic Univerese is constantly expanding, with Phase Four introducing a ton of new heroes into the mix. This includes Simu Liu’s Shang-Chi, who had a strong first outing in theaters with Destin Daniel Cretton’s blockbuster. And now Liu has shared how he actually felt after learning Marvel was hiring an Asian cast for Shang-Chi.

While the first few phases of the MCU were highly successful, it did draw some criticism for focusing almost entirely on white men. But the beloved franchise has become a much more inclusive place, with Shang-Chi breaking ground for having so much Asian talent in front and behind the camera. Simu Liu recently asked if having an Asian director and writer gave the movie cultural authenticity, to which he said:

I would 100% agree with that. When I learned that [Destin] was going to direct Shang-Chi, the feeling that I had was relief. I don’t know if you experience this — I think in my community, we call it ‘rep sweats.’

There you have it. It looks like having someone like Destin Daniel Cretton in the director’s chair helped to calm Simu Liu’s nerves about exactly how Asian culture was going to be approached in Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings. And in the end, audiences really responded to the work put forward by the cast and crew.

Simu Liu’s comments come from a conversation he had with West Side Story’s Ariana DeBose for Variety. While the two discussed their experiences on major blockbusters, they touched down on the possible challenges that might have come with Shang-Chi if different artists were bringing the project together. Luckily we all saw just how successful the Marvel blockbuster ended up being– partly because it brought such a new, authentic visual style to the MCU.

Later in that same conversation, Simu Liu further explained his feelings on the film indsutry, especially how it’s related to Asian actors. Because while Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings was a groundbreaker for the MCU, not every movie project is build equally. As the Kim’s Convenience alum explained,

Whenever a project is announced with an Asian cast, the feeling that you get at first is not necessarily elation or joy. It’s nervousness. Are they going to get this right, or is it going to be the other thing? We’ve seen a lot of the other thing, so it’s quite natural to be cynical. If you had just looked at those comic books that were written in the 1970s by white people, and you were to say, ‘Adapt that into a movie,’ I think there’s just so many ways that it could have gone wrong.

Touche. It looks like Simu Liu really understands the history of how Asian folks have been represented on both the page and screen. And as such, there were levels of nerves that came with signing onto Shang-Chi. Luckily the movie was super successful, and he seems to have enjoyed his time as the new superhero.

Shang-Chi is streaming on Disney+, and is expected to have a sequel eventually. In the meantime, check out the 2022 movie release dates to plan your next movie experience. 

Corey Chichizola
Movies Editor

Corey was born and raised in New Jersey. Double majored in theater and literature during undergrad. 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.