Why China Hates Marvel’s Shang-Chi

By Apeksha Bagchi | 2 months ago

shang-chi

The severely delayed Marvel calendar of projects and shows is finally on track. The studio has already released two new live-action shows and has set release dates for its films. And recently, they dropped the first teaser trailer of their first Asian-American superhero film, Shang-Chi and The Legend of the Ten Rings, which offers the first proper glimpse at the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s newest hero played by Canadian actor, Simu Liu. But while the teaser is trending in the U.S. and other countries, it is receiving a very lukewarm response in China and in fact, it is getting more dislikes than likes from viewers there. 

The response of the viewers has been pointed out by Reddit user u/alanjinqq, who has shared the statistics for the trailer on the MarvelTW and Marvel Studios Hong Kong YouTube accounts and it’s obvious that soon the number of dislikes will end up outweighing the likes. In the comments section of the teaser, viewers have laid out a few of the reasons for not liking the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s first Asian-American superhero. The most common complaint is that Shang-Chi is being created by “westerners” and Simu Liu as the titular hero isn’t the perfect representation of the Asian culture. As we know, the film is being directed by American film director Destin Daniel Cretton and apparently, having a predominantly Asian cast did nothing to diminish the fact that the crew of the film isn’t really catering to that ethnicity. 

While the response from China is not exactly encouraging, the cast and crew of Shang-Chi have recently assured that they have done everything in their power to make the film and its story inclusive. When they sat down to adapt the superhero from the pages of the comics, they made sure that his dated origins were updated and the character’s comic backstory was combed so as to do away with any racially insensitive elements. 

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In a recent chat with Entertainment Weekly, Simu Liu, who is better known as the star of the popular Canadian sitcom Kim’s Convenience, shared that while the Asian character of Shang-Chi was undoubtedly amazing back in the 70s and 80s, there were some aspects of him that were stereotypical. So, when the work began to adapt the character, it wasn’t simply to take the relevant pieces of his story and put them on screen. The main task was to recognize and avoid “stereotypical territory.”

Even Cretton has made it his mission to not just make a superhero film but tell a story that correctly relays an authentic Asian identity. He understands that the Asian culture is very diverse. The director shared that the cast and crew of Shang Chi is a big mix of “Asian cultures coming together” who actually pitched in their own perspectives when they felt something in the script wasn’t culturally appropriate. 

The film’s actress, Crazy Rich Asians and Jumanji star Awkwafina also assured that Shang-Chi has aimed and achieved a “level of Asian representation that I haven’t seen.” 

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For now, there is no point in judging the film as the only thing that will justify or nullify the arguments is the film’s release as it will confirm whether Cretton managed to establish the nuances he promised in Shang-Chi.