Simu Liu isn’t standing for any Marvel criticism.
On Tuesday, the “Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings” star took to Twitter to call out directors Martin Scorsese and Quentin Tarantino for their comments about the superhero franchise.
“If the only gatekeepers to movie stardom came from Tarantino and Scorsese, I would never have had the opportunity to lead a $400 million plus movie,” Liu wrote.
Though citing them both as “transcendent auteurs,” he added, “they don’t get to point their nose at me or anyone.”
No movie studio is or ever will be perfect. But I'm proud to work with one that has made sustained efforts to improve diversity onscreen by creating heroes that empower and inspire people of all communities everywhere.
I loved the "Golden Age" too.. but it was white as hell.
— Simu Liu (@SimuLiu) November 22, 2022
Liu also wrote of Marvel, “I’m proud to work with one [studio] that has made sustained efforts to improve diversity onscreen by creating heroes that empower and inspire people of all communities everywhere.”
The actor added, “I loved the ‘Golden Age’ too.. but it was white as hell.”
His tweets came after Tarantino, speaking on the “2 Bears, 1 Cave” podcast, shared his perspective on the nature of movie stars in the world of Marvel.
“Part of the Marvelization of Hollywood is you have all these actors who have become famous playing these characters,” he said. “But they’re not movie stars. Captain America is the star. Thor is the star.”
The director added, “I mean, I’m not the first person to say that, I think that’s been said a zillion times. But it’s these franchise characters that become a star.”
While explaining that he doesn’t hate the Marvel films, Tarantino said, “My only axe to grind against them is they’re the only things that seem to be made. And they’re the only things that seem to generate any kind of excitement amongst a fan base or even for the studio making them. That’s what they’re excited about. And so it’s just the fact that they are the entire representation of this era of movies right now. There’s not really much room for anything else. That’s my problem.”
He went on to says, “Look, I used to collect Marvel comics like crazy when I was a kid. There’s an aspect that if these movies were coming out when I was in my 20s, I would totally be f**king happy and totally love them. I mean, they wouldn’t be the only movies being made. They would be those movies amongst other movies. But, you know, I’m almost 60, so yeah. No, I’m not quite as excited about them.”
For his part, Scorsese hasn’t commented on Marvel very recently, but over the last few years, he has sparked waves of controversy with statements about the franchise.
In 2019, after comparing Marvel films to theme park rides and stating they are not cinema, the “Taxi Driver” director penned an op-ed for the New York Times expanding on his views.
“Many of the elements that define cinema as I know it are there in Marvel pictures. What’s not there is revelation, mystery or genuine emotional danger. Nothing is at risk,” he wrote. “The pictures are made to satisfy a specific set of demands, and they are designed as variations on a finite number of themes.”
Scorsese continued, “So, you might ask, what’s my problem? Why not just let superhero films and other franchise films be? The reason is simple. In many places around this country and around the world, franchise films are now your primary choice if you want to see something on the big screen. It’s a perilous time in film exhibition, and there are fewer independent theatres than ever.”
He also wrote of the state of cinema more broadly, “Many films today are perfect products manufactured for immediate consumption. Many of them are well made by teams of talented individuals. All the same, they lack something essential to cinema: the unifying vision of an individual artist. Because, of course, the individual artist is the riskiest factor of all.”
Liu, meanwhile, after posting his tweets calling out the two filmmakers, seemed aware of the backlash he was likely to endure.
In another tweet he wrote, “bracing for loser internet trolls like,” accompanied by a clip of himself getting into a martial arts stance in a scene from “Shang-Chi”.
bracing for loser internet trolls like pic.twitter.com/VwieKrQd19
— Simu Liu (@SimuLiu) November 22, 2022
Reaction to Liu’s tweets was all over the map, with many pushing back on him.
Director Bong thanked Scorsese and Tarantino when accepting his Oscars and their support of Directors Bong Joon Ho and Wong Kar-wai means more to Asian cinema more than Shang Chi ever will https://t.co/hjaCoikhOB pic.twitter.com/IEHVBudWL6
— dongwon (@ohhdongwon) November 23, 2022
— new rocky tweets (@newrockytweets) November 23, 2022
martin scorsese’s company restored an iranian film from the 1970s which was thought lost in time but rediscovered at a junk shop 30 yrs later. this sort of contribution to cinema is worth 100 times more than any marvel film (and i’m a marvel fan) https://t.co/ebkWF2B1ch
— felicity (@carpediemllewyn) November 22, 2022
This is such a silly tweet. Pointing out that the movement of superhero films has not entirely been good for making and allowing the funding of a bigger range of stories, is not turning their nose up. It’s stating the most obvious fact. Marvel doesn’t own diversity, nor should it https://t.co/NURrlAU341
— Zito (@_Zeets) November 22, 2022
i feel like the fact that the movie did make so much money starring the pretty much unknown Simu Liu kind of just reaffirms Tarantino's point about movie stars https://t.co/tglkyB1O9s
— 🟡 The tumboy 🟡 (@TheTumboy) November 22, 2022
Others, though, were supportive of Liu.
I mean, of course Tarantino Stans are gonna get mad at this and attack Simu, if their defense for how he portrayed Bruce Lee in OUATIH is anything to go by https://t.co/CJ2aYjnnsg
— Clifford Batteau (@CliffordBatteau) November 22, 2022
He's catching hell for this, but he's right. Tarantino's go-to is ripping off Asian martial arts films and casting his copy with non Asian actresses whose feet he likes.
And I don't know why people are upset at the fact that Scorsese films are White. They're really White. https://t.co/sIR7bCvIJO
— Liana Kerzner (@redlianak) November 23, 2022
So far, neither Scorsese or Tarantino have commented on Liu’s tweets.