Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

Shang-Chi star Simu Liu asked Marvel about playing Shang-Chi on Twitter 8 months ago

Marvel Studios head Kevin Feige, Shang Chi director Destin Daniel Cretton, and Simu Liu
Photo: Alberto E. Rodriguez (Getty Images)

Even for established actors, finding work can be painfully disheartening. You can kill an audition, only not to get a callback for any number of reasons completely unrelated to your performance. Maybe you’re an inch too short, your eyes the wrong shade of green, or the casting director had a weird tuna sandwich for lunch. Carol Kane famously recalls not even being asked to audition for parts seeking a “Carol Kane type.” It is a brutal, unforgiving process.

Unless, that is, you are actor Simu Liu, in which case you just ask Marvel nicely, and they get back to you a few months later with the leading role in a brand-new MCU franchise.


Last December, Liu, who features in the well-received Canadian sitcom Kim’s Convenience and the less well-received TV adaptation of Taken, tweeted at Marvel, “OK @Marvel, are we gonna talk or what #ShangChi.” This week, wouldn’t you know it, Marvel announced a bevy of new films for the next phase of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, including Shang-Chi And The Legend Of The Ten Rings, starring none other than Simu Liu.

As martial arts master Shang-Chi, Liu will be Marvel’s first Asian lead in a movie, and will star opposite Tony Leung as the “real” Mandarin. (As opposed to the fake-out Mandarin played by Ben Kingsley in Iron Man 3.) Provided Marvel can revise some of the more problematic stereotypes of the comic-book Mandarin, the film is a promising step forward for Marvel, both in its diversity and its big-screen franchise commitment to a very obscure comic property that a few years ago would have been an under-supported Netflix series.

The lesson here? It never hurts to ask. Liu, who probably had to do more to get the role than just tweet about it, reacted to his Babe Ruthian shot call about how you might expect anyone to.


“Well shit,” said Liu.


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About the author

Gabe Worgaftik

Contributor, The A.V. Club.