Simu Liu Talks Racism and Representation in Marvel’s “Shang-Chi”
While fans in America rejoiced after Chinese Canadian actor Simu Liu (劉思慕) got cast as the main lead in Marvel’s upcoming Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings, Marvel fans in China were less than impressed. Aside from the controversy of certain fans believing that Simu didn’t fit the look of a Chinese movie star, there was also criticism on Marvel for choosing to remake the Shang-Chi comic in the first place, which had extremely racist undertones.
In the original 1973 comics, Shang-Chi is the son of Dr. Fu Manchu, a villainous Chinese scientist, and a white American woman. Fu Manchu has long been regarded as a caricature of the yellow peril, and Shang-Chi is destined to kill him, thus “ending” the peril.
In the upcoming film, Tony Leung Chiu-wai (梁朝偉) will be playing the Mandarin, which replaces Fu Manchu.
But deleting a racist character in the remake isn’t enough to cancel the racist origins of the comics.
Simu, however, believes that Marvel’s decision to remake Shang-Chi is a great opportunity to turn things around.
He explained that, as an Asian raised in the west, racism and discrimination are extremely important topics to discuss. He expressed that Asians who grew up in the east are consistently surrounded with faces that look exactly like them, so representation was never a concern in the first place.
“They would probably think we’re white-washed or even want to be white… but that is obviously impossible. We also fight. We are still fighting.”
Simu went on to emphasize the importance of representation—Asian Americans are largely unseen in the big Hollywood screen, despite the fact that Asians make up a significant portion of the minority population in North America.
And when Asians do make the occasional rare appearance in a big film, they are either side characters or antagonizing characters that follow typical Hollywood villainous tropes.
Simu added, “We are now trying to change this. Whether you are Chinese or ABC, there has never been a Chinese superhero in the MCU, or even a Chinese superhero film. This is an entirely new domain for us. I would like to say that we have finally broken through an obstacle. We hope to build upon this even further so we can start to understand each other more and support each other.”
This article is written by Addy for JayneStars.com.