It’s been a long time coming, but audiences will finally be introduced to Shang-Chi (Simi Liu) next month, and director Destin Daniel Cretton can’t wait to show him off. There aren’t many Asian superheroes in Hollywood, particularly those leading their own films, and getting to highlight not just an Asian lead, but an Asian-American one, was a big draw for Cretton. The director recently spoke with Empire about how SHANG-CHI AND THE LEGEND OF THE TEN RINGS will showcase the Asian-American experience.
I grew up with Bruce Lee and Jackie Chan and Jet Li. But I haven’t seen a hero on screen that really walks and talks like me, dresses like me, listens to the music that me and my friends listen to; somebody truly Asian-American. And that was what was really exciting to me, to create something that just shows the Asian-American experience through the eyes of a budding superhero.
The same is true for Simi Liu, who is excited to play a hero who doesn’t hide his face from the world. Early on in his career, Liu used to play Spider-Man at birthday parties but said that, “As an Asian man, I could never show my face. It was only once I put the mask on that the illusion of the superhero would be sold. The moment that I took it off, nobody would ever think I could be that. That’s something I was keenly aware of.” Marvel Studios president Kevin Feige is also hopeful that Shang-Chi will follow Black Panther in breaking new ground when it comes to representation in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. “I remember seeing a viral video when the Black Panther poster first came out,” Feige told Empire. “It was some young men in a movie theatre overwhelmed with excitement at seeing the poster, and it was moving because people were excited about the movie we were making. But it was also a harsh realization that they were reacting that way because they had not seen it before. So Panther really coalesced the notion of, ‘Everybody deserves to see themselves portrayed in these larger-than-life ways.’”
Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings stars Simu Liu as Shang-Chi, a skilled martial artist who was trained at a young age to be an assassin by his father Wenwu, only to depart to live a normal life in San Francisco. However, he must confront the past he thought he had left behind when he’s drawn back into the web of the mysterious Ten Rings organization. In addition to Simu Liu, Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings also stars Tony Leung as Wenwu, Awkwafina as Shang-Chi’s friend Katy, and Michelle Yeoh as Jiang Nan. Destin Daniel Cretton directed the film and co-wrote the script with Andrew Lanham and David Callaham. Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings will hit theaters on September 3, 2021.