Martial arts have always played an important role in the Marvel Universe, informing everything from fight scenes to storylines, but in 2021, they’ll become an even bigger focus. That’s when Kung Fu superhero Shang-Chi will make his silver screen debut in Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings.
Marvel Studios announced the forthcoming film as part of their rollout for the next phase of movies and TV shows at the San Diego ComicCon on July 21. They also announced that rising star Simu Liu will be taking on the role of Shang-Chi. The proud Chinese-Canadian will be the first Asian actor to headline a movie in the ongoing Marvel Cinematic Universe.
Liu has a lot of work ahead of him as he prepares to portray a bonafide Kung Fu master, but he’s up for the challenge. “”I’m really excited to be getting into the training,” he recently told the CBC. He won’t be starting from scratch, either. Here’s what we know about Simu Liu and his martial arts and fitness background so far.
Who is Simu Liu?
Liu is an actor and stunt worker currently based in Toronto. Liu knew that he wanted to be an actor when he first saw Bruce Lee at a young age. “”I got kind of like a jolt,” he recalls in another CBC interview. Although he went to school for accounting and landed a job on Bay Street (Canada’s equivalent to Wall Street), he never really gave up on his dream. When he was laid off from that job, he went for it, picking up work as an extra, stock photo model, and stunt person as well as landing roles in theatre, TV, and film. He is currently starring in the hit sitcom Kim’s Convenience, which airs on the CBC in Canada and can be watched on Netflix in the United States.
Does Simu Liu have a background in martial arts?
Details about discipline(s) and rank are hard to come by — the CBC, for example, simply refers to his training history as “a background in martial arts as well as gymnastics” — but yes, he does. He’s also done stunt work for film and television, including Designated Survivor and Heroes Reborn.
The extremely active Liu often shares footage of his various physical pursuits on social media. His dog might not be impressed with his nunchucks skills, but we are.
In this 2017 clip shot at The Monkey Vault — a “place dedicated to movement and all other things come as byproducts to learning how to move better” that facilitates training in Parkour, tricking, and more — Liu demonstrates some of his gymnastics background as well.
He also donned a Tae Kwon Do uniform for a 2016 shoot with the National Screen Institute. (Unfortunately, we haven’t been able to dig up footage yet.)
We might not know his specific background, but we’re pretty sure we know what martial arts discipline he’ll be tackling next: Kung Fu. Shang-Chi is often referred to as “The Master of Kung Fu,” and is well versed in a number of wushu styles. (He’s also a master of the nunchucks, so Liu is off to a good head start there.) The Marvel Universe has a good track record with action sequences — and with its stars training in multiple martial arts to prepare for their roles in them — so we’re anticipating exciting things from Liu.
We’ll be able to see for ourselves when Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings hits theatres on February 21, 2021.