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In Shang-Chi, Simu Liu becomes the
first leading Asian hero in the Marvel Cinematic Universe
. For the uninitiated, Shang-Chi is Marvel's "Master of Kung Fu." Created by writer Steve Englehart and artist Jim Starlin, the character made
his debut the same year that Bruce Lee's Enter the Dragon hit theaters.

 Let's break down the origins of the film, how Liu seemed destined for this role, and why he's more than ready for his close-up.

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Back in 2014, the still largely unknown Liu tweeted: "Hey @Marvel, great job with Cpt America and Thor. Now how about an Asian American Hero?" Talk about manifesting!

A 72-Character Prayer Into The Void

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Five years after that tweet, Liu's life changed forever. He was coming off a grueling day on the set of the hit CBC sitcom Kim's Convenience when Marvel Studios called him about playing Shang-Chi. That conversation set the ball rolling for one of 2021's most anticipated films. 

The Phone Call That Changed Everything 

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For Liu's Shang-Chi, Marvel kept the name and the conceit but reinvented everything else. Hawaiian-born, Japanese American director Cretton and Chinese American screenwriter David Callaham revised some of the more problematic, Yellow Peril-adjacent origins of the '70s source material. 

A Reinvention

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Liu is ready to be the superhero he never got to see, on screen and beyond. But he's not trying to be The One. One is not enough. "Just because there's on Asian American superhero in the MCU, it does not by any means imply that our fight is finished right there," Liu says.

The Superhero We Need

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"When we don't have to celebrate every single win, I think we'll be a little bit closer to our goal," Liu adds, "but until then, there's just so much left to do. 

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I'm ready to be in a position where I can effect real change, amplify voices, and put people in positions to get stories told that wouldn't ordinarily get that opportunity."

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