Although the Marvel Cinematic Universe is kicking off Phase 4 with classic MCU heroes in WandaVision, the franchise is set to introduce dozens of new characters over the next few years. This includes brand new characters debuting in movies like Eternals and Fantastic Four, as well as in Disney+ shows like Moon Knight and She-Hulk.

Among the new movies debuting this year is Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings, which will introduce the world of martial arts into a universe populated with magicians, aliens, and more. Not only will this film bring an action style never before seen in the MCU to the big screen, but it will also be Marvel’s first project featuring an almost fully Asian cast.

In light of that accomplishment, the movie’s leading man took a moment to reflect on a past MCU project that he feels made this possible.

SHANG-CHI PAYS TRIBUTE TO THE BLACK PANTHER

In a recent interview with Time Magazine, Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings star Simu Liu marked the arrival of Chadwick Boseman’s Black Panther in 2018 as a “watershed moment” for representation in Hollywood blockbusters. Liu remarks on how much he owes to the success of that movie as he takes on his first opportunity with the MCU:

“It was such a great statement to the powers that be in Hollywood to say: ‘We’re here, and we’ve been here, and we love watching movies that represent us, that represent our faces and our stories and our lives.’ Without the success of Black Panther, I wouldn’t have a job today.”

He goes on to explain how Hollywood has adapted and evolved in recent years, expanding on the diversity in movies that make an impact on culture:

“As time went on I felt the need to really take up space, to show people it was OK to be proud of where you came from and to be open about it. I don’t do it perfectly, certainly, but I’ve really come to embrace it as a part of my platform.”

THE MCU'S REPRESENTATION CONTINUES TO GROW

Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings is gaining hype as one of the most anticipated movies of Phase 4 thanks to its expansion into a new culture and new style of action. This comes similarly to what Black Panther did in 2018 when it became the highest-grossing solo movie in the MCU's Infinity Saga.

While Liu has gained a fair amount of success in TV shows like Kim's Convenience, the role of Shang-Chi will be his first foray into leading a major Hollywood movie. The MCU has an outstanding history with making superstars out of up-and-coming actors, and Liu's enthusiasm and athletic abilities should lend perfectly to excelling in his MCU debut.

As for Liu's comments, he clearly has tremendous respect for Marvel Studios' history, especially as it relates to the success of the Chadwick Boseman-led Black Panther. The late Boseman opened the door in the MCU, opening the door for a more diverse group of superhero stars, and Simu Liu appears ready to follow in Boseman's footsteps to the best of his ability.

Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings has completed filming and will release in theaters on July 9, 2021.