Shang-Chi's Simu Liu Says Marvel Movie Is 'a Celebration of Asianness': 'I Feel Very Privileged'
Simu Liu is breaking down barriers as Marvel's first Asian leading man, and he's up for any challenges that might be in store.
The actor, 32, will soon be seen in movie theaters across the world as Shang-Chi in Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings. In joining Marvel, Liu tells PEOPLE he's looking forward to also being part of The Avengers.
"I'm excited and I think for all of the good and the bad of what's to come, it's definitely a journey that I feel very privileged to be going on," he says while promoting his partnership with the California Milk Processor Board, the creators of 'got milk?.' Together they're announcing a new alliance with No Kid Hungry to provide up to 1 million meals to kids in need throughout California.
"I know how much it would've meant to kids, and to myself as a kid seeing this when I was younger. I totally understand the importance of it," says Liu. "I know that it's not going to be easy, but at the same time, I feel so incredibly excited to be a part of this movement that gets to push society forward."
He adds, "It gets to deepen the conversation, it gets to normalize seeing Asian faces on screen and hearing Asian voices and our stories."
The character of Shang-Chi first appeared in Marvel comics in 1973. He was trained as a martial arts assassin by his father, the villain Fu Manchu, but rebelled against his father's lessons and became a hero.
The response to the trailer—which debuted on his birthday in April—was "nuts," he says. "People were really excited, and I think there's a real hunger for more diverse stories to be told. It's particularly in the space of superheroes and all that. I really do think it's about time, and I can't wait for September 3rd to come."
Shang-Chi, Liu says, is "a real celebration of Marvel, of superheroes, but also of a culture that has never been portrayed in that way before."
"It's really like a celebration of Asianness, and also all of the characters that surround that are coming from a multitude of different backgrounds, whether it's Asian American or Chinese, or otherwise," he says. "The other thing that I will promise you, I will put a stamp on and personally guarantee is that you're going to see some of the craziest action sequences that you've ever seen."
Never miss a story — sign up for PEOPLE's free weekly newsletter to get the biggest news of the week delivered to your inbox every Friday.
Liu says the film really "upped the bar in terms of what is possible for action" in films.
"Not only just in a Marvel movie, but in any movie, period," he says. "Of course, we know Shang-Chi is the, in the comics or in the world of Marvel, he is the master of Kung Fu. He is the greatest hand-to-hand fighter in the universe, and so we had to really bring it and I feel like we did it a really big way."
Shang-Chi and The Legend of The Ten Rings hits theaters on September 3.
- Lizzie McGuire Fan's Unusual Wedding Vows to His Now-Husband Go Viral: 'Really Captured Our Love'
- Kesha Discusses Roe v. Wade Reversal at Stonewall Day Pride Performance: 'We Are Not Done Fighting'
- Irwin Family Opens Crocodile Hunter Lodge in Honor of Late Conservationist: 'Dad Would Be So Proud'
- Naomie Olindo Doubts Cameran Eubanks and Chelsea Meissner Will Ever Return to Southern Charm