Marvel Studios is officially back in theaters for 2021 with the prospects finally looking upward after Labor Day weekend. This delivered the MCU's first theatrical exclusive of the year in Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings, which has already become the highest-grossing Labor Day release in history while earning its fair share at the box office.
Delivering the MCU's first movie featuring an Asian lead and a largely Asian cast and crew, Shang-Chi has made its mark on the narrative with the tale of a new hero combined with epic teases for the future. Even with a somewhat limited release, Simu Liu's solo outing set the stage for the character to enjoy a long future in more MCU adventures.
However, not everything has been sunshine and roses for Marvel Studios the past few months. The studio and Disney are still dealing quite publicly with Scarlett Johansson's lawsuit after the hybrid release for Black Widow on Disney+ and in theaters.
Now, Shang-Chi is seeing its own set of issues that may limit its release even further.
Simu Liu's China Comments May Hurt Shang-Chi
Deadline reported that the possibilities of Marvel Studios' Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings being released theatrically in China are rapidly diminishing. This is due to comments made by the film's star Simu Liu in 2017, in which he discussed comments from his parents about living under the country's Communist regime.
Specifically, Liu referred to China as a "third world" country and spoke about people "dying of starvation." These comments coming back to light have pushed Shang-Chi's China release further into jeopardy, even as it finds box office success across the rest of the world.
Simu Liu's Past Haunting Marvel's Future With China
China's relationship with Disney - not to mention other movie studios - has been rocky over the years with the country's politics lurking in the rear-view mirror during releases like this one. Liu's comments only seem to make this situation even more complicated, especially with Disney looking to Marvel to help bring movie theaters back to prominence through the world health situation.
China-based Eternals director Chloé Zhao has also seen her fair share of ire from her home country's government, even after winning awards for her work on Nomadland. With Zhao and Liu both standing as such public figures for Marvel Studios, this will be quite an interesting situation to keep an eye on as Disney and China discuss their future in business together.
The biggest question going forward will be if these comments from Liu hurt Disney's prospects in China not only with Shang-Chi but with future movies in which he's set to appear. It's almost certain that he will play a key role in Avengers 5, along with potentially other movies teased in the mid-credits scene of his own movie, and Marvel appears to love the work he's put in already.
Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings is currently playing in theaters.