Marvel is back at the movies with the release of Shang-Chi and The Legend of The Ten Rings.
Featuring a new character being introduced to the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU), it stars Simu Liu as Shang-Chi, who must confront the past he thought he left behind when he is drawn into the web of the mysterious Ten Rings organization.
Ahead of the film's release, Shadow and Act spoke to the film's cast, including Liu, who spoke to us about representation in Hollywood, especially his rising profile as a sex symbol and challenging the narrative when it comes to how men of color are viewed in the medium in comparison to their white counterparts.
"Growing up, for people of color, for specifically maybe Asian men, we were never really a part of that attractiveness narrative," he said. "I never saw myself reflected as desirable in any way, in any characters that I saw on screen. I mean, famously, Jet Lee in the movie Romeo Must Die in which he acted opposite of Aaliyah. They had shot a kiss between the two of them, because of course they were love interests and the studio hated it so much that they took it out. And so I think that spoke to what the landscape was at the time and also gave me something that I wanted to maybe challenge and change."
Liu also teased what's to come with Shang-Chi in the MCU and even alluded to a "team" that he may join.
"He is the first Asian title hero in the MCU, [but] I really hope he's not the last. I hope that there first and foremost will be more just like him and we're no longer celebrating firsts all the time. We're celebrating seconds and thirds and fourths and fifths. And obviously, I hope that he can potentially...and I know nothing about this...but I of course hope that he could potentially join a larger team. That would be pretty swell. But I also hope that, just having a superhero of Asian descent, another superhero of Asian descent out there, really just will inform the way that children see themselves on screen. And we'll hopefully show them that anything is possible and that they belong and that they can be proud of who they are and where they came from."
And aside from this, there are things that he hopes happens in his career and future in Hollywood as a result of the film as well.
"I just personally hoping that my career gets to a point where I can now, instead of becoming an instrument through which story is told, which actors are, I can become the storyteller. That's certainly been a hope of mine ever since I started in this industry is that I want to be able to tell the stories that matter to me and uplift the voices that I think need to be heard. And I think that's the most exciting thing about where I am in this moment in time. So thank you for asking that."
Shang-Chi and The Legend of The Ten Rings is in theaters now. Watch the full interview below featuring Liu, director Destin Daniel Cretton, Florian Munteanu and Awkwafina.