Marvel Star Claims His New Movie Will Kill The “Idea of Gender”

in Marvel, Movies

Simu Liu as Marvel's Shang Chi

Credit: Marvel Studios

This Marvel star is speaking out on how his new movie will fight heteronormative ideology.

Avengers Characters fight in New York
Credit: Marvel Studios

Related: MCU ‘Shang-Chi’s Simu Liu Called Out for Being “Privileged”

After the resounding success of Marvel Entertainment’s Iron Man (2008) movie, which revitalized Robert Downey Jr.’s career and breathed new life into the Marvel Comics superhero franchise, The Walt Disney Company took over Marvel Studios. Over a decade has passed since this acquisition, and under the leadership of Kevin Feige, Marvel Studios’ Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) has witnessed remarkable growth. The initial three Phases, collectively referred to as the Infinity Saga, concluded with immense popularity through Avengers: Infinity War (2018) and Avengers: Endgame (2019). Helmed by Anthony and Joe Russo, Endgame showcased the original six Avengers, namely Robert Downey Jr.’s Iron Man/Tony Stark and Chris Evans’ Captain America/Steve Rogers retiring in their own ways.

But it was only after this initial stock of characters parted ways from the franchise on a regular basis did other heroes really begin to join the fray.

Steve Rogers talking to Sam Wilson in Avengers: Endgame
Credit: Marvel Studios

Marvel Stars: The Next Generation

Alongside Letitia Wright as Princess Shuri who took on the role of the Black Panther from the late Chadwick Boseman, Iman Vellani as Pakistani-American teen hero Ms. Marvel, Tatiana Maslany as lawyer Jennifer Walters/She-Hulk, and, Dominique Thorne as tech-genius Riri Williams/Ironheart, Simu Liu is a relative newcomer to the Marvel scene representing a new generation of Avengers.

Shang Chi Simu Liu wielding all Ten Rings in fight with Wenwu
Credit: Marvel Studios

In the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s new Shang-Chi franchise, Asian American actor Simu Liu takes on the titular role of Shang-Chi. Directed by Destin Daniel Cretton, the first movie, Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings earned critical acclaim upon its 2021 theatrical release. Notably, it featured a predominantly Asian cast with Simu Liu portraying Xu Shang-Chi/Shaun, Awkwafina as his best friend Katy, Meng’er Zhang as his estranged younger sister Xu Xialing, Fala Chen as Shang-Chi’s mysterious mother Ying Li from the hidden village Ta-Lo, Benedict Wong as Wong, Ben Kingsley as the actor Trevor Slattery, who impersonated fake “The Mandarin”, Florian Munteanu as the Ten Rings member Razor Fist, and the iconic star Tony Leung as the intimidating father and Ten Rings founder, Xu Wenwu/The Mandarin.

Now, this new Marvel star is sharing his own, relatively new opinions on gender norms, and how his newest movie will challenge these ideas.

Simu Liu has thoughts on gender

Shang-Chi (Simu Liu) and Katy Chen (Awkwafina) in 'Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings'
Credit: Marvel Studios

Related: Timothée Chalamet Nearly Played Ken in the ‘Barbie’ Movie

The superhero actor is taking on new roles in a brand new movie — the highly anticipated Barbie movie directed by Greta Gerwig starring Margot Robbie in the titular role. Liu will star as Ken (or one of the many variants of the concept/character of “Ken”), alongside Kingsley Ben-Adir, Scott Evans, Ncuti Gatwa, and rather importantly, Ryan Gosling, who will all be some form of Ken doll. Of course, John Cena will also star as Merman Ken (the most important Ken, clearly).

Not a stranger to speaking his mind, Liu opened up to ScreenRant recently about how his upcoming film will break huge gender barriers — first by explaining the very “traditional gender norms” that he was brought up with. He admits to not having had a real “relationship with Barbie in the past” due to the notion of “colors [being] gendered”, and those imposed rules made it clear that “Barbie was not my toy”, and instead “on the other team”:

I didn’t really have a relationship with Barbie in the past, you know? I don’t know about you, but I grew up in a society where traditional gender norms were pretty heavily enforced and were pretty prevalent. [We] were taught from a very young age, “Boys don’t play with that, and, “Boys don’t wear pink.” Colors became gendered; toys became gendered — all of these rules were imposed on us. And so, Barbie was not my toy. That’s, like, on the other team.

simu-liu-as-ken-in-barbie
Credit: Warner Brothers

Next, Liu continues on about this “very heteronormative idea of what gender is” — claiming that the Barbie movie’s very existence will put “that final nail in the coffin” for this very concept, and bring about the death of this rigid gender binary:

I’m so glad this movie exists, because I really think it just puts that final nail in the coffin of this very heteronormative idea of what gender is and what is or is not gendered.

He admits how playing with this much pink during the filming of the movie has changed his perspective, calling the experience “so great” — just the freedom to “express yourself in all of the ways that you feel like you want to” — regardless of whether something is “belonging” to a “certain gender or a certain idea”, and even in spite of it.

How can you make a color gendered, you know? Over the course of this movie, I’ve seen, been around, worn, and played with more pink than I ever thought possible. And it was so great — it’s so great to be free to express yourself in all of the ways that you feel like you want to. Not to feel like, because something is attributed to a certain gender or a certain idea, you can’t also do that.

Finally, he adds that he hopes audiences will also take away what he learned, in his newfound “understanding of Barbie”.

Regardless of whether you agree with Liu’s belief that the new Barbie film definitively “ends” the concept of gender norms, it’s safe to say that this idea of certain colors being only for a particular subsection of humanity is being actively challenged. The deliberate use of camp, bright aesthetics is certainly refreshing — especially in sharp contrast Christopher Nolan’s Oppenheimer, the equally anticipated biographical wartime thriller set to premiere on the same date as Barbie in theaters — starring Hollywood heavyweights Robert Downey Jr., Matt Damon, Florence Pugh, Cillian Murphy, and Emily Blunt.

What do you think about Marvel star Simu Liu’s opinions about Barbie being the death of gender norms? Share your thoughts in the comments below!

in Marvel, Movies

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