Simu Liu Tweeted rebuttals of Quentin Tarantino’s recent comments about the Marvel-ization of Hollywood.
Simu Liu recently took to social media to apparently rebut director Quentin Tarantino’s recent comments that the success of Marvel Studios popularized actors who are “not movie stars.” In a two-part Tweet, the Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings stated that if the only people allowed to make choices in Hollywood were Tarantino and fellow director Martin Scorsese, he (as an Asian man) would not have the opportunity to lead a big-budget movie. Although Liu did not directly say so, the implication behind the Tweets was that the films of Quentin Tarantino did not allow the same racial diversity as Marvel Studios.
The Tweets appear to be in response to Quentin Tarantino’s recent appearance on the “2 Bears, 1 Cave” podcast, in which he stated his opinion that the “Marvel-ization” of Hollywood” had caused the decline of the actor as the central character or “star” of a film. Instead, he said:
But they’re not movie stars. Right? Captain America is the star. Or Thor is the star. I mean, I’m not the first person to say that. I think that’s been said a zillion times…but it’s like, you know, it’s these franchise characters that become a star.
Simi Liu’s Tweets make it clear that he respects Quentin Tarantino as a “filmmaker,” but also that he feels that Marvel Studios makes more of an effort to promote diversity within its films. Martin Scorsese seems to be included in this due to his now infamous New York Times op-ed in which he stated that he did not feel that superhero movies (Marvel included) were actually “cinema,” but more akin to an amusement park ride. Both directors are well-established and acclaimed filmmakers who are primarily perceived as not working as much within a studio or franchise system, but more as “auteurs.”
So far, it does not appear that Quentin Tarantino (or Martin Scorsese, for what it’s worth) has responded to the Marvel star’s Tweets. It is also worth noting that while Simu Liu starred in Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings to massive box office performance, critical acclaim, and applause for its representation of Asian culture, Marvel Studios has had more than its share of criticism about its lack of diversity.
The Marvel Cinematic Universe was 17 movies deep before it released a film with a person of color as a lead, the massive blockbuster that was the first Black Panther movie in 2018. Since then, Marvel Studios has released just two more films with a POC lead: Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings and the recent Black Panther: Wakanda Forever. To date, there has been only one MCU feature film with a female lead, 2021’s Black Widow.
So, while Simu Liu’s comments toward Quentin Tarantino’s statement about Marvel and its effect on Hollywood are certainly worth considering, they should also be taken in the context of a more nuanced discussion. Of course, the long-standing debate about diversity and representation in Hollywood is unlikely to be solved by Quentin Tarantino, Simu Liu, or Marvel any time soon, but hopefully, there is more fruitful discussions in the future.
Simu Liu will be reprising the role of Shang-Chi in an upcoming sequel currently in development, while Quentin Tarantino is currently touring in promotion of his book Cinema Speculation.