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The ‘Shang-Chi’ controversy, explained

People are already speaking out about ‘Shang-Chi.’ Here’s why

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Shang-Chi in Marvel Studios’ “Shang Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings.”

Shang-Chi (Simu Liu) in Marvel Studios’ “Shang Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings.”

Jasin Boland, Marvel Studios

“Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings” hasn’t even hit theaters yet and it’s already drawing controversy.

What is the ‘Shang-Chi’ controversy?

“Shang-Chi” has been billed as a film that will be released in movie theaters only, unlike other recent hit Hollywood films, which have been released on streaming services because of the pandemic.

Earlier this week, Disney CEO Bob Chapek said the theater-only release was an  “experiment” for Disney amid the pandemic, according to CNN. This was in reference to the last Marvel Cinematic Universe film, “Black Widow,” which was released on Disney+ and in theaters at the same time. 

  • The “Black Widow” release caused controversy, though, as Scarlett Johansson sued Disney, saying she was denied her share of the box-office split.

Chapek’s comments didn’t sit well with actor Simu Liu, who plays the main character in the film, Shang Chi.

  • “We are not an ‘interesting experiment,’” he said on social media. “We are the underdog; the underestimated. We are the ceiling-breakers. We are the celebration of culture and joy that will persevere after an embattled year. We are the surprise.”

What did the ‘Shang Chi’ comments mean?

Marvel Studios president Kevin Feige clarified the comments in an interview this week, saying Chapek’s words were misunderstood, according to The Hollywood Reporter. He said he was not looking to downplay the film.

  • “The proof is in the movie, and we swing for the fences as we always do,” Feige said, per The Hollywood Reporter. “With the amount of creative energy we put in and the budget, there’s no expense spared to bring this origin story to the screen.”

The controversy of “Shang-Chi” comes as Disney has had a recent controversy over “Black Widow.” As the Deseret News reported, lead actress Scarlett Johansson said she would be suing Disney because, she said, Disney didn’t give her fair share of profits from the box office and streaming earnings.

When does ‘Shang-Chi’ come out?

Disney will preview “Shang-Chi” to select fans in Imax theaters on Aug. 18. The film will be released in theaters to the nation beginning on Sept. 3.