The long-awaited casting for Marvel’s Shang-Chi was the first introduction many of us had to Simu Liu, but where else may you recognize the actor from? Last weekend’s Hall H extravaganza for Marvel Studios was a veritable victory lap for the company as they announced a slew of new projects, both surprising and expected. One of the most talked-about parts of the day came in the form of the official announcement for Shang-Chi.
The "Master of Kung Fu" has been part of Marvel Comics since the 1970s and spent time as a member of the Avengers. He's set to be a key addition to the MCU's fourth phase. The movie, titled Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings, is set for a release date of February 12, 2021. It will be directed by Destin Daniel Cretton (Short Term 12) and star Awkwafina (Crazy Rich Asians) as well as Tony Leung, the Hong Kong megastar, in his Hollywood debut. However, it was the casting of the title role that proved the most thrilling, as Simu Liu was unveiled to the world as Shang-Chi.
The casting of Liu was met with much enthusiasm, not least because Liu has been excitedly gunning for the part of Shang-Chi on social media for months now (largely through the use of shirtless photos of himself). It's a surprise piece of casting news given that the rumors for the part included much bigger and more well-known actors, like The Walking Dead's Steven Yeun and Into the Badlands star Lewis Tan. This will also mark the cinematic debut of Liu (unless you count his work as an extra in Pacific Rim), who is primarily a television actor in his native country of Canada. If you’re a fan of Canadian comedy, Simu Liu may be a familiar face to you.
Liu's most prominent role is in the CBC sitcom Kim's Convenience. The award-winning comedy centers on a Korean-Canadian family who run a store in Toronto's Moss Park area. Liu plays Jung, the estranged son of the family. The show gained prominence outside of Canada thanks to its availability on Netflix. Prior to that, Liu also appeared in the Canadian crime series Blood and Water, the first TV drama show produced for a Chinese Canadian audience, about a police detective brought on board to solve a case relating to the murder of a billionaire real estate developer. Liu's work was highly acclaimed on the show and he was nominated for a Canadian Screen Award for Best Performance by an Actor in a Featured Supporting Role in a Dramatic Program or Series.
Like many a working actor, Liu's filmography is also heavy with bit-parts on familiar TV series. He's played an EMT in the CW's Beauty and the Beast, worked as a stunt performer on Heroes Reborn, had a recurring role on Taken, the series based on the Liam Neeson movie of the same name, and was recently a guest star on ABC's Fresh Off the Boat. He also works as a writer and director, having participated in the writing room for Blood and Water and worked on a number of short films that have screened at festivals across Canada and America. One of those shorts, Meeting Mommy, can be viewed on YouTube now.
It’s exciting that Marvel are happy to take a chance on an unknown actor. After so much grumbling and insensitive arguments from Hollywood that Asian actors don’t sell or are hard to find, it’s refreshing to see a company commit to telling this story with the proper cast. Simu Liu has a lot to live up to but he seems more than ready for the challenge of playing Shang-Chi.
- Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness (2021) release date: May 07, 2021
- Thor: Love and Thunder (2021) release date: Nov 05, 2021
- Black Widow (2020) release date: May 01, 2020
- Eternals (2020) release date: Nov 06, 2020
- Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings (2021) release date: Feb 12, 2021