Shang-Chi Star Simu Liu Fires Back At Disney CEO For Calling Film An Experiment

Disney’s rollout for its slate of pandemic-impacted blockbusters has been more chaotic than the third act of most Marvel movies and it’s only getting messier with “Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings.”

On the heels of Scarlett Johansson’s lawsuit over the hybrid release of “Black Widow,” Simu Liu, the star of the studio’s first Asian-led superhero outing, is blasting Disney CEO Bob Chapek for calling the film’s distribution an “interesting experiment.” 

During the company’s quarterly earnings call this week, Chapek remarked on how “Shang-Chi” will break with its other offerings as of late, which all received simultaneous video-on-demand releases through its Disney+ streaming service, and will exclusively hit theaters for a 45-day window. 

Citing the growing concerns around the COVID-19 delta variant, Chapek said the film was intended to debut in a “much more healthy theatrical environment,” but it was too late for the studio to alter its release strategy amid the recent surge in cases due to existing distribution agreements. 

“On ‘Shang-Chi,’ we think it’s actually going to be an interesting experiment for us because it’s got only a 45-day window for us,” he said. “So the prospect of being able to take a Marvel title to the service after going theatrical with 45 days, would be yet another data point to inform our actions going forward on our titles.”

Chapek said the studio believes “Shang-Chi” will serve as a test of sorts for future Disney properties, as the pandemic continues to upend traditional release windows and distribution strategies, according to The Wrap.

On Saturday, Liu offered a direct rebuke to Chapek’s comments, seemingly bristling at the suggestion that the history-making film isn’t worthy of the same consideration as the studio’s past titles.  

“We are not an experiment,” Liu wrote in a post on both Instagram and Twitter alongside behind-the-scenes photos of the cast and crew. “We are the underdog; the underestimated. We are the ceiling-breakers. We are the celebration of culture and joy that will persevere after an embattled year. We are the surprise. I’m fired the f**k up to make history on September 3rd; JOIN US.”

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Directed by Destin Daniel Cretton, “Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings” features a predominantly Asian cast, including Awkwafina, Benedict Wong, Michelle Yeoh and Tony Leung, and represents the studio’s latest effort to diversify its superhero ranks. 

Liu, who campaigned to play the title role years before he was cast, stars as the titular crime fighter and kung fu master, who must confront his past and battle the villainous Ten Rings organization.

In an interview with HuffPost after he was attached to the project, Liu said the film stands as “an opportunity to re-introduce ourselves to the world following years of stereotypes and caricatures and tired tropes.” 

“I think seeing yourself represented in that way can have a profound impact on how you view your place in society, your cultural identity and what you are capable of achieving,” he added. “I’m honored that I played a small part in this fight, and I’m ready to bear that torch if and when it is asked of me.” 

“Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings” hits theaters Sept. 3 for 45 days before becoming available for streaming on Disney+.

Watch the trailer below. 

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