It is widely known that Shang-Chi and The Legends of the Ten Rings star Simu Liu is someone who is not shy about sharing his opinions or advocating for just causes. Prior to the release of Shang-Chi, he called out Disney CEO Bob Chapek for making inappropriate comments regarding the film’s Asian-led cast. Simu Liu has also consistently been very open and vocal about his commitment to stopping Asian hate. However, the actor’s vocal tendencies are now causing ramifications outside of the United States and directly affecting Shang-Chi’s bottom line. In a candid interview, Simu Liu discussed the brutalities of living under China’s communist regime, which has prompted the Chinese government to cancel the star and delay the Chinese release of Shang-Chi indefinitely.
According to the international publication Taiwan News, the controversy regarding canceling Simu Liu and stopping the release of Shang-Chi in China arose because of a 2017 interview that was resurrected from the Canadian network, CBC, and dissected by “Chinese netizens” (those who scour the internet in search of information). The comments that came into question were those relating to Simu Liu’s views of the Chinese communist government. Even though the actor largely grew up in Canada, he revealed that his parents would recount stories to him about the squalor, poverty, starvation, and death that they witnessed while living under communist rule.
Taiwan News goes on to further explain that the Chinese government used Simu Liu’s comments in conjunction with their argument that Simu Liu’s character, Xu Shang-Chi, is an inaccurate depiction of a Chinese individual and Chinese culture. They compared Xu Shang-Chi to the dated and overtly stereotypical depiction of Fu Manchu. They also alluded to the fact that the actor had no basis for which to make these remarks because Simu Liu has also expressed that he considers himself “completely Canadian.”
Despite the backlash directed towards Simu Liu from the Chinese government and the fact that it is very likely that Shang-Chi and The Legend of the Ten Rings will never see profits generated from China’s populous, it has not stopped the film from breaking records and performing impressively at the box office both domestically and internationally. In fact, Giant Freakin Robot exclusively learned that Disney executives have been so pleased by the movie’s performance that they are already thinking ahead and will move forward on developing a Shang-Chi 2.
Even though Simu Liu’s honesty and candidness had direct consequences that affected the release of his film in China, according to Deadline, this is not the first time that China has stalled a film’s release that their government has deemed unworthy and inappropriate for their citizens to watch. Filmmaker Chloe Zhao’s past comments caused China to completely stonewall the release of Zhao’s Nomadland (2020) which was adapted from the book of the same name and tells the story of a woman who lost everything and decides to pursue living a nomadic life. Additionally, Zhao’s newest project, Eternals (2021), is also likely to be stalled as a symptom of what happened with Simu Liu. Regardless, of Simu Liu’s actions, its seems as though China will perpetually continue to keep a tight cap on exactly what movies are allowed to be filtered to their theaters.