Everything we know about Simu Liu, Marvel’s newest superhero
Back in December, Marvel announced big plans for 2021’s Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings. It will be their first superhero movie with an Asian macho-man as the lead, and they just tapped Toronto’s Simu Liu to do the honours. Here’s everything we know about the soon-to-be global sensation (including how he might have gotten the gig through Instagram juju).
He wasn’t born in Canada, but he grew up here
Liu was born in Harbin, a city in northern China, and moved to Mississauga when he was five years old. He went to high school at the University of Toronto Schools and after that, the Ivey Business School at Western.
He’s pretty new to acting
Unlike the Daniel Radcliffes and Macaulay Culkins of the world, Liu hasn’t been starring in films since he was a baby-faced kid. After graduating university, he briefly worked as an accountant at Deloitte on Bay Street before getting laid off. Instead of scrambling to find another suit-and-tie job, he took advantage of his open schedule to explore his interest in acting. His first gig was on the CW Network’s Nikita (2012). After that he was an extra in the blockbuster Pacific Rim and landed a smaller role in the Beauty and the Beast TV series (2015).
He’s in Kim’s Convenience
After a few years of TV cameos, Liu ascended to starring status as Jung (the hot older brother) on CBC’s Kim’s Convenience. He got the part after series creator Ins Choi came to check out one of his live theatre performances. In 2017, less than a year after the series premiered, he won an ACTRA award for the role.
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He takes his top off for a good cause
Last year, during a chat about sexual stereotypes on The Social, Liu said that whenever he’s mad at the world, he posts a spicy shirtless pic on Instagram. “Imagine being a kid growing up and having none of the girls want to date you and hearing most of all that people are ‘just not into’ Asian guys… we’re [not] portrayed as sexy men who like to take their shirts off, but as dorky nerdy sidekicks,” he said.
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I went on @TheSocialCTV today to promote our show and talk a wide range of current events and pop culture topics with the wonderful ladies there. At the beginning of the clip we were talking about ‘sexual stereotypes’ and I was cutting in to offer my opinion as an Asian man. Y’ALL, THE STUDIO AUDIENCE LAUGHED. THEY. LAUGHED. I was stunned; you can see my face as I process what the f**k just happened. I called them out. And the amazing ladies sitting next to me had my back. Because goddamnit people it’s 2019 and I’m tired of having to prove to the world that we’re not Long Duk Dong from Sixteen Candles. Much love to everyone at #TheSocial for being amazing and allowing me the space to properly educate some people. I will be doubling my shirtless photo quota moving forward. I’m damn proud to be Asian. TAG YOUR SEXY-ASS ASIAN FRIEND. Thank you. *continues drinking boba*
He willed his superhero status with social media
Last summer, Liu captioned one of his (many) aforementioned topless snaps: “People ask me why I go topless a lot. I’m just waiting for Hollywood to make me a superhero suit.” He was already pushing Marvel to diversify back in 2014 when he tweeted: “Hey @Marvel, great job with Captain America and Thor. Now how about an Asian-American hero?” Maybe he’s a secret fortune teller, too.
The casting process was a slow start
Superhero fans have been waiting more than six months for Marvel to announce who would play Shang-Chi, a kung fu master and son of the villain Fu Manchu. They saw auditions from hundreds of actors, including Liu, who had his less than two weeks ago. The following Tuesday, he received a call from Marvel top dog Kevin Feige telling him he got the part and made the big announcement in front of thousands of screaming fans at San Diego’s Comic-Con. “This is just the craziest, craziest dream,” Liu said on stage.
He’s the kind of guy who invites Torontonians to hang out and watch movies with him
Liu was a huge supporter of the first Crazy Rich Asians movie and even mobilized Asian viewers in Toronto to get them to the theatre on opening weekend (he also hosted a viewing at the Yonge-Dundas Square Cineplex). He did it again yesterday, when he rented out an entire theatre at the Cineplex Cinemas Varsity for a free screening of The Farewell starring his pal Awkwafina.
His Twitter fans like to cast him in upcoming projects, real and fictional
Some are gunning for him to play Rachel’s half-brother, Carlton Bao, in the Crazy Rich Asians sequel. Others have steamier fantasies. Last year, a fan tweeted about her hopes and dreams of a Simu Liu and Henry Golding rom-com. Liu responded: “Hey @henrygolding, I’m down if you are,” and Golding replied: “Sign me up [fist emoji, heart emoji].” No word on whether the project is actually in the works, but the Twittersphere was all over it.