Marvel's Simu Liu Explains Why He Criticized Moon Knight's Ethan Hawke Accent

By Richard Nebens Updated:
Simu Liu, Ethan Hawke

Marvel Studios’ Moon Knight just finished its impressive run on Disney+, earning praise as one of the MCU’s most unique and ambitious projects to date. However, this didn’t come without a touch of controversy thanks to an interesting reaction to Ethan Hawke’s Arthur Harrow from Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings star Simu Liu.

The accents used for multiple characters in Moon Knight were the cause of issues amongst fans, critics, and other MCU actors, starting off with Oscar Isaac's British accent from his Steven Grant personality. Then the controversy moved to Arthur Harrow as he spoke Mandarin to Steven in a scene from Episode 2 that helped to deepen the story for his new MCU villain.

That episode led Simu Liu to comment on the accent on Twitter as he said that Harrow "needs to fire his Mandarin teacher," inadvertently starting a firestorm on social media as fans wondered how strongly he felt about this matter. Now, Liu has clarified his stance on that criticism as he looks at what may have really happened on the Moon Knight set.

Simu Liu on Moon Knight's Use of Mandarin

Moon Knight, Ethan Hawke

During an interview with British GQ, Shang-Chi star Simu Liu clarified the comments that he made criticizing  Ethan Hawke's Arthur Harrow's use of Mandarin in Moon Knight.

The actor admitted that it would be easy to blame "Marvel as a whole" when it was really more of a situation where there was a translator involved that maybe shouldn't have been involved. He even noted how difficult Mandarin is to learn as a language and said he only wanted to tease the fact that Harrow's Mandarin sounded absolutely nothing like Mandarin in the show:

“I think there’s maybe a misconception that Marvel is this kind of monolithic, all-powerful single organism with infinite resources. I think that it’s easy to allocate the blame to Marvel as a whole. If you really break it down, there was a translator that probably shouldn’t have been a translator. There were probably a couple of people in the decision-making process that should have raised a flag that didn’t. I have full appreciation for the fact that Mandarin is not an easy language. I didn’t want to make it into a big political thing. I just wanted to make fun of it because the sound that came out of that man’s mouth did not resemble Mandarin in any way, shape or form.”

Liu Explains Criticism in Civil Manner

Almost nobody in the MCU has been as much of a vocal supporter of the franchise as Simu Liu over the past couple of years, both before and after his own solo movie was released. From commenting on Shang-Chi's record-breaking opening weekend to sharing his thoughts on Andrew Garfield's role in Spider-Man: No Way Home, the MCU has one of the best promoters in its leading star from Shang-Chi.

Regarding his comments on Moon Knight, Liu wanted to make it clear that he didn't hate what came from either the show itself or Hawke's performance as Arthur Harrow. The Chinese-Canadian star understands the difficulties of Mandarin after using it through much of his own solo movie, only hoping that Marvel takes the right steps to make sure the MCU includes cultures like his the right way.

While this won't be the last fans hear from Liu, he remains as big of a fan of the MCU as any actor or viewer.

Both Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings and Moon Knight are available to stream on Disney+.

- About The Author: Richard Nebens
Richard Nebens joined The Direct in March 2020, now serving as the site's Senior Writer and also working as an assistant editor and content creator. He started his journalism career as a hobby in 2019 and is passionate about sharing news and stories from the entertainment industry, especially comic book movies, comedy, and sci-fi. Richard looks to expand his knowledge about movies and TV every day, and he is eager to stay locked into the latest releases and breaking news at every opportunity.