Marvel’s Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings is set to be an important moment in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and a big move for its star, Canadian actor Simu Liu. Liu has tweeted about representation in films often, and as recently as Sunday, he celebrated the casting news for Shang-Chi and its focus on amplifying Asian voices throughout its cast and crew.
-Asian Am Screenwriter (Dave Callaham)
-Asian Am Director (Destin Daniel Cretton)
-Asian Am Art Director
-Asian Action Designers and Fight Choreographers
-Asian American 1st AD
-one of @TIME's Most Anticipated Films of 2021! pic.twitter.com/QS5x8uvY6o
— Simu Liu (@SimuLiu) December 20, 2020
But news of another casting announcement drew some criticism of Liu after a tweet criticizing a member of its cast for his history with Asian-Americans seemingly disappeared. Word spread over the weekend that Liu would be involved with Mark Wahlberg in Arthur the King.
But the casting news made many recall a critical 2018 tweet from Liu about Mark Wahlberg’s violent past regarding Asian-Americans. Wahlberg was twice charged with race-related crimes growing up in Boston, once serving time in jail for the assault of two Vietnamese men while apparently under the influence of drugs. Several people shared screenshots of the tweet, and others realized that the tweet no longer existed on Twitter.
On Monday, Liu shared an Instagram message that included a screenshot of one tweet critical of him, which also contained the now-deleted tweet in question. In the post’s caption, he addressed why he deleted the tweet in light of his role now working on the Shang-Chi project.
“I signed on to Arthur the King because I absolutely adored the script,” Liu wrote. “I was and am very passionate about bringing this story to the screen, and playing a character that is undoubtedly a positive representation of an Asian man.”
He then addressed the tweets he deleted, though he didn’t address Wahlberg by name in explaining which tweets he deleted and why.
“I deleted a couple of tweets I made regarding the past actions of one of my costars as a gesture of professionalism and to open to door to progressive conversations and (hopefully) positive change. Obviously it’d be pretty weird to go to work with that tweet still up,” he said. “I meant what I said in the moment; I was very angry hearing about what happened. But that doesn’t mean I don’t think there’s room to grow and work together to find an opportunity to educate and do some good- which I’m excited to do in addition to shooting the movie. Progressive discussion will lead to dialogue, and dialogue will lead to action.”
It’s good that Liu addressed what he did honestly, and at least provided a good explanation for why the tweets went missing and that he’s willing to create “progressive discussion” about something that is often quietly discussed when Wahlberg is involved in projects. Deleting old critical tweets is far less a crime than what Wahlberg actually did and pleaded guilty to doing, but it certainly created its own stir over the weekend.