Simu Liu, who is playing the titular hero of Marvel's Shang-Chi And The Legend Of The Ten Rings, has spoken out about the criticism he received from fans of the character.
Shang-Chi And The Legend Of The Ten Rings is part of Phase 4 of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, along with Black Widow, The Falcon and the Winter Soldier, and Wandavision. This movie, however, has been in the works since the '80s when Stan Lee was keen for Brandon Lee (son of martial arts legend Bruce Lee) to take the role. What Marvel didn't expect was actor Simu Liu literally asking for the role over Twitter thirty years later, which was a courageous move that paid off for the guy. Marvel is very conscious about hiring a Asian and Asian-American cast and crew to develop the story of Shang-Chi and to leave the stereotypes in the 1970s. In this way, the movie would offer a world and hero that Asian children could look up to for the very first time in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
Check out the rest of the roster for Phase 4, including Eternals starring Angelina Jolie, Spider-Man: No Way Home and Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness.
In an interview with Men's Health, Liu revealed that, even though he'd bagged his dream role, he wasn't on cloud nine. Asian Boss, a YouTube channel that aims to "bridge social and cultural gaps between Asia and the West," posted a video asking passersby to rate Liu's attractiveness from 1-10 after it was announced he would be leading the movie. The overall sentiment of the video (which is now private) was that the actor was "too ugly" to play Shang-Chi.
"I got a ton of trolls," explained Liu. "They'd leave Chinese comments on my page, and I'd be so excited to translate them, because I thought 'ooh they must be voicing their support.' And [instead] it would be like, 'Your face looks like a dog's anus, you don't deserve this role.'" One theory posited by Men's Health is that the standards of attractiveness are very different in Asia and in the West. Another video from Asian Boss illustrates this - where the majority of Chinese people explained that narrow jawlines, gentler and softer facial features, and slight physicalities are handsome to them in another set of vox pops.
If he was a little younger, he expressed that these comments would have been much more difficult to deal with. "Growing up, I was obsessed with being desirable," said the actor. "Over the course of auditioning for [Shang-Chi], I never really thought I had a chance the whole time, because I never felt like I was the best looking or the tallest or the best at martial arts." However, nowadays he's "at peace" with his appearance as he's severed the connection between his perceived attractiveness and his mental wellbeing.
"What started to click for me is that I wasn't chosen [for Shang-Chi] because of my looks or my martial arts ability or anything other than my ability to inhabit a character," he concluded. Shang-Chi And The Legend Of The Ten Rings comes to theatres on September 3rd, 2021.
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