Marvel Studios boss Kevin Feige is playing peacemaker following a recent flare-up between Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings star Simu Liu and Disney chief executive Bob Chapek.
At the premiere of the much-anticipated superhero film in Hollywood on Monday, Feige called the incident, in which Liu criticised Chapek for calling the film "an experiment", a “misunderstanding”, according to the Hollywood Reporter.
“It was not the intention. The proof is in the movie, and we swing for the fences as we always do. 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,” Feige said.
Shang-Chi is a historic movie for the Disney-owned Marvel, as it introduces its first Asian superhero. The 25th film in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) is also the studio’s first to feature a predominantly Asian cast, with Liu as the lead.
Trouble began last week during an investor call when Chapek was asked about releasing Shang-Chi and the recent Ryan Reynolds film Free Guy as theatrical exclusives rather than simultaneously making them available on streaming.
Disney’s past three releases, Black Widow, Cruella and Jungle Cruise, were all made available on Disney+ the same day as their cinematic releases.
Chapek referred to Shang-Chi as “an interesting experiment”.
“The prospect of being able to take a Marvel title to the service after going theatrical with 45 days will be yet another data point to inform our actions going forward on our titles,” he said, explaining that the film will be available on streaming services 45 days after cinemas.
The statement fired up Liu, who took to social media on Sunday.
“We are not an experiment,” he posted. “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.”
Liu, who is Canadian, was born in China and is best known for his work as Jung Kim on the award-winning hit show Kim's Convenience, the sitcom about a Korean-American family who own a convenience store in a Toronto neighbourhood.
The latest incident comes barely a month after Black Widow star Scarlett Johansson sued Disney for reportedly renegading on the film’s terms of release. Disney was criticised by many Hollywood bodies for its response to Johansson’s lawsuit.
At Monday’s Shang-Chi event, Feige likened the premiere to that of the record-breaking Black Panther, the first Marvel film featuring a predominantly black cast.
“When you have the opportunity to showcase a hero that looks like a huge segment of the globe that feels like they haven’t been showcased, the magic can happen if you deliver,” he said, according to Hollywood Reporter. “I think Destin [Daniel Cretton, director] and Simu have delivered for this movie.”
Feige also addressed the Johansson lawsuit at the premiere, noting he is “all for amicable solutions”.
Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings also stars Tony Leung, Awkwafina, Michelle Yeoh, Fala Chen, Meng’er Zhang, Florian Munteanu and Ronny Chieng, and is scheduled to be released in the US on Friday, September 3.