Simu Liu is certainly not afraid to call out Hollywood’s problems with Asian-American representation, even when it’s with a company he’s working with. Though some have criticized him for deleting tweets about a Marvel-adjacent actor amid his casting as the star of Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings, Liu isn’t afraid to speak up. And this week he responded to Disney’s CEO after calling his upcoming entry into the Marvel canon an “experiment.”
The comment, made by CEO Bob Chapek on Thursday during an earnings call, was not about the film’s mostly non-white cast but rather about the projected theatrical release of just 45 days in theaters. While the unique factors of a film’s release have gotten Disney into a legal battle with Scarlett Johansson about the release of Black Widow, the comment seems to have irked the star of the next Marvel release as well.
On Saturday, Liu addressed Chapek calling Shang-Chi “an interesting experiment for us” with a post on Twitter that directly contradicted that language.
We are not an experiment.
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.
I’m fired the f**k up to make history on September 3rd; JOIN US. pic.twitter.com/IcyFzh0KIb
— Simu Liu (刘思慕) (@SimuLiu) August 14, 2021
“We are not an experiment,” Liu wrote on Twitter with a collection of behind-the-scenes photos from filming Shang-Chi. “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.”
While it’s a bit of a stretch to call a multi-million dollar film in the biggest movie franchise on the planet an “underdog,” the point is clear that Liu is very proud of the film he’s made and doesn’t want it tokenized in any way, even when it comes to its distribution.
“We are the surprise,” he concluded. “I’m fired the f**k up to make history on September 3rd.”
Liu’s post is both a reply to Chapek as well as a call to arms for Marvel fans who may still not feel quite comfortable returning to the theaters amid the still-ongoing pandemic and the rise of the highly contagious Delta variant. But while it’s clear Liu is excited about the movie and its arrival at the box office, its rollout will be different from even the films Disney has brought to market during the pandemic. As The Hollywood Reporter pointed out, Shang-Chi’s brief theatrical window will come without the simultaneous Disney release some films like Mulan and Black Widow have seen.
Shang-Chi will arrive on Disney 45 days after its Sept. 3 release. “The prospect of being able to take a Marvel title to the service after going theatrical for 45 days will be yet another data point to inform our actions going forward on our titles,” Chapek said during the call.
That may not be worth the phrase “experiment” to Liu, but it’s certainly a departure from what we’ve seen in recent months. And one that may frame the way future Marvel films hit the market whether or not it’s the box office smash Liu hopes it will be.