Marvel's Kevin Feige Addresses 'Shang-Chi' Controversy, Calls It A "Misunderstanding"

Last night, Hollywood rolled out the red carpet to celebrate the MCU's latest superhero flick, Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings. Shining the spotlight on the cast and crew, the film premiere welcomed Shang Chi's very first audience, and based on the early morning Twitter buzz, was a resounding success. Critics in attendance have called the film thrilling, heartfelt, and home to Marvel's best action yet!

You'd think all this positivity would be enough to gloss over the recent tension surrounding the film, but no one's looking to let Disney off the hook for any of their recent blunders. Even at an event based in celebration, reporters were quick to broach to the studio's missteps surrounding Shang-Chi – so the saga continues with Kevin Feige's efforts to weather the storm.

The Story So Far

We previously reported on the controversy's start — a poorly worded statement from Disney CEO Bob Chapek. Already receiving backlash for the ongoing situation with Scarlett Johansson (and worst of all, Disney's backhanded tactics in public shaming), Chapek continued the streak with a tone-deaf statement on the release plan for Marvel's Shang-Chi.

"On Shang-Chi, we think it's going to be an interesting experiment. The prospect of taking a Marvel title to [Disney+] after just 45 days would be an interesting data point."

Chapek was referring to the decision to end Disney's trend of hybrid releases with Shang-Chi, letting the film premiere exclusively in theaters without a simultaneous streaming launch on Dinsey+. But his wording struck a troublesome chord with many fans and more notably, with the film's star, Simu Liu.

The word "experiment" was the primary point of contention. Though Chapek attributed it to the release plan rather than the film itself, the underlying meaning of the word still stung: the implication that Shang-Chi is being thought of or treated as an experiment shows a brazen disregard for the cast and crew involved. His statement dismissed the film as an opportunity to test the waters on theatrical releases in the days of the pandemic. It was inherently insulting but is worsened by Marvel's poor track record with diversity for years. Dubbing Shang-Chi an experiment — one of their few films led by people of color — is more than unfortunate.

Liu didn't mince words in his reply, tweeting, "We are not an experiment. 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 were surprised. I'm fired the f**k up to make history on September 3rd; JOIN US."

Enter Kevin Feige

The latest response comes from Marvel's Kevin Feige, who addressed the tweet at the film's premiere. Referring to Liu, Feige told The Hollywood Reporter,

"He is not a shy man. I think in that particular tweet you can see and I think everyone does, a misunderstanding. 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's statement is certainly bolstered by the overwhelmingly positive response to Shang-Chi thus far, meaning Marvel has a chance to bury the initial issue beneath their continued celebration.

Yet, nothing screams non-apology louder than the question of "intention." Whether or not Chapek's statement was meant to offend has little to do with the impact it had. If it was harsh enough to warrant a direct indictment from star Simu Liu just days before the premiere of his film, it's certainly worth paying attention to.

Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings premieres in theaters on September 3, 2021.