At an upcoming comic convention, Shang-Chi star Simu Liu will not sign certain older comics in the character’s history due to their offensive nature.
At an upcoming comic book convention in Washington DC, Simu Liu will not sign certain issues in the hero’s comic history. Liu joined the Marvel Cinematic Universe as the titular character of Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings. The film centers on the martial arts-skilled hero as he is recruited by his father of him Wenwu (Tony Leung) to track down the entrance to a mythical world and resurrect his long dead mother of him. The film was a hit at a pandemic-restricted box office, grossing over $400 million, and was praised for its positive Asian representation.
Shang-Chi was first introduced to Marvel Comics in 1973 during America’s Kung Fu film craze. Although Shang-Chi was an original character to the superhero world, he made his debut in Special Marvel Edition #15 — later tilted Master of Kung Fu — alongside popular novelist Sax Rohmer characters such as Fah Lo Suee, Sir Dennis Nayland Smith, and arch-nemesis, Dr. Fu Manchu. The evil mad scientist originated in Rohmer’s 1913 book series The Mystery of Dr. Fu Manchuand can be seen as an embodiment of the xenophobic metaphor “yellow peril,” which was clearly an irrational racist fear that East Asian cultures threatened the Western world.
According to the Ace Experience webpage for the Awesome Con website, Liu has decided that he will not sign certain comics in Shang-Chi’s long publication history at an upcoming convention in Washington DC The comics in question belong to the original Master of Kung Fu series that first introduced the hero with the infamous evil Dr. Fu Manchu, Shang-Chi’s rival and father. Although the comic series was very popular upon its initial release, they remain a racist stain on his superhero’s legacy.
Eventually Marvel Comics lost the rights to Dr. Fu Manchu and the character’s name was changed to Zheng Zu. Unfortunately, many of Fu Manchu’s xenophobic traits would remain for years. When the character was greenlit to join the MCU, Kevin Feige and director Destin Daniel Cretton had to address the elephant in the room. In the film, Zheng Zu was expertly replaced by the supervillain the Mandarin, known as Wenwu in the MCU.
Even though Fu Manchu is intertwined with Shang-Chi’s roots, it was a smart move to replace him by the Mandarin, a character who also had his own problematic past. Throughout Fu Manchu’s long history in media, both inside and outside of Marvel, the character had done significant damage to Western perception of East Asian cultures. 2007’s the Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End was criticized for its character of Sao Feng, portrayed by Chow Yun-Fat, whose facial hair and long nails resembled that of Fu Manchu. His scenes of her were subsequently cut from Chinese theaters citing offensive to the character’s depiction of her. Although the simple character swaps in Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings had major implications to the overall Marvel lore, the change was resoundingly welcomed by viewers and was seen as a good step to take to fix past wrongs.
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