Phase 4 of the Marvel Cinematic Universe has featured a flurry of projects that bring new and unique heroes to the roster. One of the brightest stars in the 2021 rookie class is Simu Liu's Shang-chi. Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings was a smash hit with fans and box office analysts as it topped the highest expectations on opening weekend. Fans love the character, the actor loves the fans, and it seems as if Marvel Studios has found yet another leading man to help carry the franchise forward.
Liu and the cast of Shang-Chi have broken barriers in Hollywood as they embody a massive jump in Asian representation in the MCU, with Liu being the universe's first Asian title hero. Liu has been proud of this movement and has been vocal about his pride in his culture, team, and Shang-Chi.
But the nature of the beast that is social media means that every public figure using platforms like Twitter to build people up will be met with controversy attempting to bring them down.
With his newfound stardom, Liu has quickly gained experience battling such controversy. Headline back-and-forth with the creative head of Marvel Studios, Kevin Feige, and backlash from fans for previous tweets being deleted are just a couple of situations the Shang-Chi star has attempted to navigate.
Simu is ready for those conversations as he focuses on controlling his narrative and being proud of who he is.
Simu Liu Responds to Twitter Culture
In a recent interview with Independent promoting his new book, Shang-Chi star Simu Liu talked about his recent experience balancing Marvel superhero-level fame with his sometimes-controversial stances on social media.
Liu acknowledged the responsibility and trials of being a public figure in this market, emphasizing being able to sift through essential conversations and "targeted attempts to bring you down:"
"You don’t know if opinions are coming from real people, or if it’s a targeted attempt to bring you down... Being a public figure on today’s internet means being a lightning rod for people typing whatever they feel at any specific point in time."
Recognizing this dilemma is often half the battle. The desire to clarify thoughts and contest damaging accusations can be a fools' errand with the reactionary audience of Twitter, especially when given the limit of 280 characters. Yet, Liu feels it is vital for him to speak his truth and do everything to control his narrative:
"What scares me is not having control over that narrative. My nature is to want to clarify, but then the nature of Twitter is to keep it short. Opinions are formed, accusations can be made, and then you only have 280 characters with which you can respond or choose not to.”
An effective way to mitigate unsolicited negativity and own a social media presence is to be unapologetically yourself, something Liu has always strived for as he looks to be "a model of self-assuredness:"
“I don’t feel like I’m the hottest man in the world... but what I’m trying to be is a model of self-assuredness. The fun of being topless every once in a while is feeling like… yeah, I worked for this! I deserve to feel good in my skin! And if it happens to shatter a couple of stereotypes along the way, then sure, why not?”
Liu continues to be active on social media and is proud of the work he and his teammates have done for his and their communities. The young star has experienced the trials of stardom by fire, and he is looking to come out the other end as a role model for anyone looking to be comfortable in their skin.
Simu Liu a Star on & off the Big Screen
With such a push for new heroes in the world's biggest comic book movie franchise, more and more new stars have been thrust into the limelight of MCU fandom. While this is a dream come true for most if not all working actors today, it comes with a public opinion landscape that is polarizing at best.
Simu Liu's short time as a blockbuster superstar has been met with a handful of social media conversations that have tested his grit as a public figure.
Ahead of the release of Shang-chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings, Liu and Marvel Studios president Kevin Feige got into a headline joust over Feige's statement about Shang-Chi being an "interesting experiment" on Disney+. Liu claimed that his movie and his team are not an experiment but "the underdogs." This was responded to by Fiege, claiming that Liu misunderstood his statement as he intended to comment on the experimentation of the movie's release in a pandemic-ridden time and not the movie itself.
Feige even commented on Liu's passion and his lack of shyness. This is just one example of Liu making a concerted effort to speak his mind and control his narrative.
Liu was met again with controversy after deleting some tweets criticizing Mark Whalberg shortly after signing on for a project with the veteran movie star. Liu's tweets question Whalfberg's attempt to clear a black mark on his record after an assault involving two Vietnamese Americans. Liu responded to this criticism with authority, stating that he stands by what he said but looks to engage in progressive and meaningful conversation with his new costar in an attempt at professionalism.
The story of Liu becoming a movie star is one for the big screen itself. Liu was thrust into the spotlight of the biggest movie franchise of all time and wasted no time becoming a fan favorite amongst Hollywood's most extensive roster of superstars. His passion for his work, fans, and cast and crew have been the key to that overnight success.
In addition, Liu's conviction to stand up for what he believes in while recognizing the pros and cons of social media makes him a unique case study of Hollywood success.
Look for Simu Liu to continue to push the barriers of what many believe is the status quo. It is an often aspired dream to be as publically beloved as Liu has become. But this is an example of the trials that come with it. The Shang-Chi star attempts to be an example of self-awareness and being comfortable with oneself.
With the momentum of the MCU and Shang-Chi in particular, he will have many chances to cement that legacy.
Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings is now streaming on Disney+.