By Shailendree Wickrama Adittiya
Simu Liu is a Chinese-born Canadian actor who played Jung Kim in Kim’s Convenience, but shot to fame through Marvel’s Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings, and the actor recently slammed filmmakers Quentin Tarantino and Martin Scorsese for their anti-Marvel comments, saying Marvel makes way for diversity in cinemas, unlike the Golden Age to which the filmmakers belong.
Liu tweeted: “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. I am in awe of their filmmaking genius. They are transcendent auteurs. But they don’t get to point their nose at me or anyone.”
He went on to say: “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.”
While the tweets have been liked and retweeted by thousands of users, the actor is being criticised for his comments. One user responded: “By the way, Scorsese and Tarantino have cast Asian actors in films like Kundun, Kill Bill, and Silence. Your precious Disney agreed to distribute Kundun before sinking it on behalf of the Chinese Government, since their attack on Tibet is depicted in the film.”
The user, Michael Avolio, a webcomic creator, shared a previous tweet, where they say Disney agreed to distribute Scorsese’s 1997 film Kundun, but then bowed to pressure from the Chinese Government and barely released the film. The user adds that former Disney Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Michael Eisner went so far as to denigrate the movie and celebrate its financial failure, due at least in part to Disney undermining its release.
“Scorsese gets banned from China for life because he directed a film about the Dalai Lama that accurately portrays the attacks of the Chinese communists, as Disney stoops to lick the boot of the Chinese Government so they can release other movies there and build Shanghai Disneyland,” Avolio added.
Hollywood on its ‘Marvelisation’
Another user shared a clip of Anthony Mackie, who plays Sam Wilson/Falcon in Avengers: Infinity War and Avengers: Endgame, where, at the 2018 London Comic Con, he said: “There are no movie stars anymore. Anthony Mackie is not a movie star. The Falcon is a movie star. And that’s what’s weird.”
Mackie went on to say: “It used to be that with Tom Cruise, Will Smith, Sylvester Stallone, and Arnold Schwarzenegger, when you went to the movies, you went to see the Stallone movie, you went to see the Schwarzenegger movie. Now you go see X-Men.”
The actor had then said that the evolution of the superhero has meant the death of the movie star.
“And that’s the fear now. Because you are now making movies for 16-year-olds and China. And that’s it. You think of some of your favourite movies growing up; those movies wouldn’t get made today.”
Meanwhile, Director Martin Scorsese, in 2019, called Marvel movies “theme parks” and “not cinema”. Scorsese said: “It isn’t the cinema of human beings trying to convey emotional, psychological experiences to another human being.”
He later clarified that such movies are fine and good for those who enjoy that type of movie, but that they are just not his cup of tea.
The debate over the focus on superhero movies was sparked by Tarantino’s recent comments while speaking on the 2 Bears, 1 Cave podcast, where the filmmaker attributed the decline in movie stars to the “Marvelisation of Hollywood”.
“You have all these actors who have become famous playing these characters,” Tarantino 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.”
“My only axe to grind against them is they’re the only things that seem to be made,” he added. “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 explained that he would have loved to watch these movies if he was in his 20s, but as someone who is almost 60, he is not quite as excited about superhero movies.
During the interview, he also said his next movie would be his last, although he is in no hurry to make it. He was on the podcast to promote his book Cinema Speculation, and said: “So I’ve got my book, I’m doing a few other things, and then I’ll figure out what the next movie will be.”
In 2019, Tarantino had told Popcorn with Peter Travers: “I kind of feel this is the time for the third act (of my life) to just lean a little bit more into the literary, which would be good as a new father, as a new husband.”
He added: “I’m not just grabbing my family and yanking them to Germany or Sri Lanka or wherever the next story takes place… I can be a little bit more of a homebody, and become a little bit more of a man of letters… I do feel that directing is a young man’s game.”
“I do feel that cinema is changing, and I’m a little bit part of the old guard.”