Image Credit: Disney | Marvel Studios

‘Shang-Chi’ Star Fires Back at Disney CEO Comment

The upcoming Marvel film Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings was supposed to be the triumphant return of the exclusive theatrical release. Instead, it's now less of a triumph and more of a question mark.
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In a recent investor call, Disney CEO Bob Chapek made a comment about the upcoming Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings that has everybody talking — including star Simu Liu.

The film, which is set to release on September 3, is Marvel’s first Asian-led superhero film and looks set to explore the origins of the MCU by delving deeper into the Ten Rings criminal organization, previously revealed in Iron Man.

During the call, Chapek referred to the upcoming theatrical-only release of Shang-Chi as an “interesting experiment” for the company. Shang-Chi will be the first Marvel movie since the start of the pandemic to get an exclusive theatrical instead of hitting streaming services the same day it arrives in theaters.

So what’s the big deal? Read on to hear what Simu Liu has to say about calling his big breakout role an “experiment.”

Chapek Describes Latest Marvel Film as a ‘Data Point’

“On Shang-Chi, we think it’s actually going to be an interesting experiment for us, because it’s got only a 45-day window for us,” Chapek tells investors during the call. “So, the prospect of being able to take a Marvel title to the [streaming] service after going theatrical at 45 days will be yet another data point to inform our actions going forward on our titles.”

Simu Liu
The star of Shang-Chi, Simu Liu, pictured center | Image Credit: Shutterstock

While Chapek’s comments were fully focused on the marketing side of things, the use of the phrase “interesting experiment” struck some commentators as being an unusual way to talk about a major tentpole film in the mainline MCU. One of those commentators was the star of the film, Simu Liu, who took exception to being called an “experiment”.

Liu Defends his Film

Liu took to Twitter to call out Disney’s CEO and defend his film. “We are not an experiment,” Liu wrote in an impassioned tweet.  “We are the underdog; the underestimated. We are the ceiling-breakers. We are the celebration of culture and joy that will persevere after an embattled year. We are the surprise.”

His fiery defense of the upcoming movie should come as no surprise. Liu has not been shy about how proud he is of the movie and how happy he is to bring the character of Shang-Chi to life. The film will be the first major showcase for Asian leading characters in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, which has led to a lot of positive buzz about the film in online fan communities.

The question now is whether those same fans will flock to see Shang-Chi on the big screen. Given the current uncertainty about public health, it might not be safe to see the movie in a crowded theater. If that happens, many Marvel fans are worried that the House of Mouse won’t gamble on a minority-led film again for a long time. It’s also unclear how this move might impact Scarlett Johannson’s suit again the studio for failing to release her Black Widow in theaters as promised in her contract.

What to Expect

Shang-Chi is a long-running Marvel character who was created in the 1970s as a way for the company to tell martial arts stories. Martial arts films, like those of the legendary Bruce Lee, were immensely popular in the US in the 1970s, leading Marvel to chase that success with their own “Master of Kung Fu” series.

Shang-Chi has been a fan favorite character ever since, as he is one of only a few Asian superheroes in Marvel Comics. His unique backstory, blending his father’s villainous teachings with his own sense of justice, has made Shang-Chi a compelling character for decades in the pages of Marvel comics. Audiences will be introduced to this masterful warrior on September 3.