Simu Liu Faces Chinese Criticism He Was ‘Too Ugly’ to Play Shang Chi
“I have days where I really feel sexy and on top of the world, and I have days where I don’t. But more than everything I can be at peace with who I am.”
Back in 2019, the moment Marvel announced Simu Liu would play Shang Chi, the Chinese social media exploded. While Marvel fans were nothing but excited about the MCU expansion with Shang Chi, others reacted against Marvel’s casting choice of Liu.
A YouTube channel Asian Boss surveyed people on the Beijing streets asking them to rate Simu Liu’s attractiveness on a scale of 1-10. Their motive is to clear that Simu Liu was way too ugly to play Shang Chi. The video has been removed.
In one of Simu Liu’s interviews, he spoke about trolls, “I got a ton of trolls,” Liu tells us about the months following his casting. “They’d leave Chinese comments on my page, and I’d be so excited to translate them because I thought ‘ooh they must be voicing their support.’ And [instead] it would be like, ‘Your face looks like a dog’s anus, you don’t deserve this role.’”
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The Asian Boss videos also highlighted the divergent male beauty standards between the West and China. They pointed that Americans may have to find Liu more attractive because of his muscular figures just like all the American superheroes.
They surveyed the beauty and likeliness of the ideal Chinese male aesthetic. Many commented that they like smaller, narrower faces that American moviegoers seem feminine. Such aesthetic preferences may be influenced by the popularity of Korean boy bands.
Shang Chi star spoke, “Growing up, I was obsessed with being desirable, over the course of auditioning for [Shang Chi], I never really thought I had a chance the whole time because I never felt like I was the best looking or the tallest or the best at martial arts.”
Liu confessed to thinking about his beauty throughout the day mentioning that self-consciousness comes and goes. “I have days where I really feel sexy and on top of the world, and I have days where I don’t. But more than everything I can be at peace with who I am as a whole—my charisma, my humor, my soul.”
Simu Liu now puts aside the need for desirability and disconnect his self-worth from his attractiveness in front of the camera. “When I learned to let that go, I probably became the most self-assured and self-confident version of myself,” Liu explains.
And when it came to landing Shang Chi, Liu knew the role was his for all the right reasons, anyway. “What started to click for me is that I wasn’t chosen because of my looks or my martial arts ability or anything other than my ability to inhabit a character,” he explains.
He was chosen because of his acting. He was chosen because he earned it.