The cast of “Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings” celebrated the Marvel film’s premiere at a giant red carpet event in Hollywood August 16. Among the reasons they were celebrating were the film’s cast, most of which is Asian, Asian-American and in star Simu Liu’s case, Asian-Canadian.
“If you look over the course of our history, you know, the Chinese Exclusion Act, the internment of Japanese-Americans. Like, we have a long history of kind of being othered, and a lot of people, myself included, grew up feeling like they didn’t truly belong,” he said. “And that’s why I think a movie like this is so critically important for youth, for adults, for children. I mean, I want I want everybody to know that they’re seen and that they matter and that they should be proud of who they are.”
Actor Awkwafina, who co-stars in the film, hailed it as “the first of its kind.”
“I do think that the more stories like this we have, the more kind of a bridge of understanding and empathy for other people’s experiences we build,” Awkwafina said. “I mean, when we were doing “Crazy Rich Asians,” I realized you don’t realize the importance of representation until you realized you’ve been missing it your whole life. And I think that there are kids out there that are going to Simu as a superhero and they’re going to see themselves in him. And to be a part of that as an adult means a lot.”
Ronny Chieng, who co-stars in the film and is also a comedian, said objectively speaking, “you can’t deny that there’s less Asian stories being told in America, especially with Asian people leading it or at the helm.”
“It definitely feels like it’s always a struggle to tell Asian-American stories authentically. And so being able to be on this kind of platform and tell this kind of story with these kind of resources. Look at this carpet. This is expensive, man. Like, to get these kind of resources is very rare. Very, very rare in America. So very lucky to be a part of it,” Chieng said.
The film’s stars also said they hope the film can be a bright light in dark times, given the coronavirus pandemic and an increase in hate crimes against Asian-Americans ever since.
“Storytelling from the heart is by nature healing,” said Sir Ben Kingsley, an Oscar winner. “So anybody who tells a good story, whether it’s Hamlet or Shang-Chi, it’s going to be healing because it comes from the heart. If your motives are pure, it’s going to be healing and good for people.”
Marvel Studios President Kevin Feige said the film is decades in the making.
“We have been working on this movie for over 20 years. It has been one of the, ‘Hey, this is a cool character and a cool story we could bring to the screen.’ That it’s happening now is great. That we have to even have the conversation about a rise in Asian violence is horrific, and anything that can be done to stop that — a movie, who knows what it can do? Here’s what I know it will do, is give people a chance to see themselves reflected on a big giant screen in ways maybe they haven’t felt in the past,” he said.
Feige also shared that production on the “Black Panther” sequel is in full swing in Atlanta, and that late actor Chadwick Boseman’s presence is keenly felt on a daily basis.
“The entire team is in Atlanta working hard and doing some very emotional, very big, very impressive stuff. And Ryan Coogler is my hero and is handling it all in an amazing way. And every day is emotional without Chad. But the whole movie, I think, is turning into a tribute to him and a continued celebration of Wakanda,” said Feige.
As for Liu, he acknowledged that it’s been “a really tough couple of years.”
“But, you know, we’re here today to experience joy and to experience celebration and to meet any hate or negativity or anything like that with an equal and opposing and probably larger force of happiness and positivity,” Liu said.
“Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings” premieres on Sept. 3 in the U.S.
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