Simu Liu vs. HuffPost: The Controversy Over Marvel’s Diversity Efforts

MCU star Simu Liu lashes out on a writer who accused Marvel Studios of casting actors of different ethnicities for the sake of tokenism rather than real representation. 

Simu Liu is best known for playing the MCU hero Shang Chi in Shang Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings. He has also been a part of the list of the 100 most influential people in the world. 

The actor began his career in Hollywood as a stuntman and also worked as an extra in several films. After playing several small roles in films, he finally got his big break when he was casted as Shang Chi in the MCU. As per reports, the actor has an ongoing contract with the MCU and will soon appear on the big screen again. 

Simu Liu vs. HuffPost: The Controversy Over Marvel’s Diversity Efforts
Simu Liu as Shang Chi

Liu recently lost his cool after being involved in a controversy with a Brooklyn-based writer, Ian Kumamoto, who accused the MCU of practicing tokenism rather than actual representation in an op-ed article in HuffPost. 

Kumamoto claimed that Marvel Studios has been casting actors from different ethnicities in their projects just for the sake of it. They do not care about actual representation. 

The writer claimed that it is surprising that Liu is the only Asian actor who is bagging big roles in major Hollywood films, calling him a “thirst trap”. He also mentioned that the studios should consider casting more “attractive and talented” Asian actors in their projects rather than sticking to the common faces.

Aiming specifically at Simu Liu and the roles he signed up for after Shang Chi, Kumamoto said –

“Don’t get us wrong — we love Liu and we’re all for an Asian king thriving. But when a single actor appears to be getting the bulk of Asian male roles in Hollywood, it starts to feel a little less like representation and a lot more like tokenism. All we’re saying is, we don’t want a predominantly white Hollywood to gatekeep sexy Asian male representation like it has for decades when there are so many other attractive and talented Asian men who deserve to be seen and appreciated by the general public.”

Kumamoto’s criticism is specifically directed at Liu being casted as Ken in Greta Gerwig’s upcoming film, Barbie. To illustrate his point, the writer even mentioned names of other Asian actors who could have replaced Liu in the role. 

In response to the criticism, Simu Liu commented on HuffPost’s Facebook post about the article and asked the writer to recheck his facts.

Here’s what Liu’s comment said – 

“Way to attempt to put us against one another. What ‘bulk’ of roles are you referring to? Are there movies I’m in that I’m not aware of? Do you really think that there is a quota of ‘Asian male roles’ that is a zero-sum game? Everything I have taken post Shang-Chi was not written Asian. We’ve been able to reshape stories to get more representation onscreen. Get your facts straight.”

As of now, Simu Liu is set to star as Shang Chi in future projects of the MCU. Despite average reviews, Marvel Studios has confirmed that Shang Chi will get a sequel. 

Simu Liu vs. HuffPost: The Controversy Over Marvel’s Diversity Efforts
Simu Liu as Ken

Although no further information has been shared about the sequel, Simu Liu hinted that we might get something sooner than expected in an interview with People. Liu will also be seen as Ken in Greta Gerwig’s upcoming Barbie movie, alongside Ryan Gosling and Margot Robbie.

While Kumamoto’s criticism cannot be disregarded as something completely invalid, it is still a big step for Hollywood to cast non-White actors in prominent roles in the industry. While the motive behind casting Asian actors may not be equal representation, it still gives a boost to many non-White actors who want to make it big in Hollywood. 

Watch Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings on:

About Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings

Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten rings is an upcoming American superhero film directed by Destin Daniel Cretton. It is based on the Marvel Comics character Shang-Chi.

Cast members include Simu Liu, Awkwafina, Tony Leung, Michelle Yeoh, Fala Chen, and Ronny Chieng.

When Shang-Chi is drawn into the clandestine Ten Rings organization, he is forced to confront the past he thought he left behind. Set in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, the movie will be a part of its ongoing Phase Four.

Epic Dope Staff

Epic Dope Staff

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