Mississauga’s very own Simu Liu has thrown Twitter into a tizzy by daring to call out none other than Quentin Tarantino and Martin Scorcese — two of Hollywood’s most-respected filmmakers — for implying that Marvel heroes (like himself) aren’t actually movie stars.
Liu, who played the titular role in Marvel’s smash hit Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings last year, took to social media on Wednesday afternoon with some controversial commentsas he is wont to do, after listening to a podcast featuring Tarantino.
“You have all these actors who have become famous playing these characters, but they’re not movie stars,” said the Pulp Fiction and Kill Bill director on an episode of the podcast 2 Bears, 1 Cave published Monday.
“Captain America is the star. Thor is the star. I mean, I’m not the first person to say that. I think that’s been said a zillion times. It’s these franchise characters that become a star.”
The comments came as Tarantino, 59, reflected on the state of the film industry, and particularly Marvel’s outsized influence on modern audiences who, as a majority, get more excited about generic, green screen-heavy superhero movies than they do about thoughtful works of Art.
The Marvel logo is the main reason why the majority of people watched Shang-Chi, not because they heard that Simu Liu is playing the lead role
This is all Tarantino’s saying https://t.co/LEbQzcdlyh
— Jayden (@drsoap8) November 22, 2022
“If the only gatekeepers to movie stardom came from Tarantino and Scorsese, I would never have had the opportunity to lead a $400 million plus movie,” responded Liu to Tarantino’s comments this week.
“I am in awe of their filmmaking genius. They are transcendent auteurs. But they don’t get to point their nose at me or anyone.”
The Kim’s Convenience star, 33, went on to pen another tweet saying that “no movie studio is or ever will be perfect. But I’m proud to work with one that has made sustained efforts to improve diversity onscreen by creating heroes that empower and inspire people of all communities everywhere.”
“I loved the ‘Golden Age’ too,” wrote Liu. “But it was white as hell.”
While they may take up issue with Liu inserting himself into the long-running debate over whether or not superhero films are “real” films, many on Twitter, fans of Marvel or not, agree with Liu’s latter assertion.
THIS!! Most of the “golden age” films are misogynist and racist in some way. Marvel is giving the opportunity to so many to see themselves in movies
— Valeria 🦋 (@AnchanteValeria) November 22, 2022
You see, Tarantino is far from the first influential director to criticize “the Marvelization of Hollywood movies,” as he put it in the podcast.
Scorcese, 80, famously told Empire Magazine in 2019 that he didn’t enjoy superhero films or even consider them to be cinema.
“Honestly, the closest I can think of them, as well made as they are, with actors doing the best they can under the circumstances, is theme parks,” he said at the time.
“It isn’t the cinema of human beings trying to convey emotional, psychological experiences to another human being.”
The acclaimed auteur behind such classics as Taxi Driver, The Wolf of Wall Street, Goodfellas, Raging Bull and Casino went on to pen an essay in the New York Times explaining his take, which falls in line with opinions expressed by other greats, including Francis Ford Coppola, David Cronenberg, Denis Villeneuve, Jane Campion, Bong Joon-ho and Ridley Scott.
That’s not even to mention all of the actors — including Anthony ‘Falcon’ Mackie — who’ve said they agree that Marvel is “not cinema.”
Anthony Mackie said the same thing tho 😳🤔 pic.twitter.com/tJ0qsnnTkZ
— raven (@landfallian) November 22, 2022
But, just like Tarantino isn’t the first filmmaker to criticize superhero flicks, Liu is not the first member of the Marvel Cinematic Universe to defend the genre.
Actors Elizabeth Olsen, Tom Holland, Chris Evans and Paul Rudd and Robert Downey Jr. have all similarly expressed support during interviews for the studio that pays them millions of dollars to fight tennis balls on sticks in front of green screens (sorry.)
The reaction among hardcore film nerds when an MCU actor or fan defends Marvel is often the same, as evidenced by all of the people on Twitter accusing Liu of being a corporate bootlicker right now.
Marvel discourse Simu Liu getting
all over again dragged pic.twitter.com/P0Bqc3brj9
— 👽 (@electricpopcorn) November 23, 2022
While not the first actor to speak out against Marvel haters, Liu might be among the first to air his grievances unprompted on Twitter — something that people who aren’t fans of the star have been quick to point out.
Tarantino and Scorsese:
Simu Liu logging into Twitter: pic.twitter.com/KYHhKOR8LX
— 🎄Hunter Holly-man 🎁 (@HungerHuman) November 22, 2022
“Simu Liu assuming Tarantino and Scorsese know enough about him or anything he’s ever done to look down their noses at him specifically is as hilarious as the idea that he’s some kind of sex symbol worth parading about in satin boxer shorts,” wrote one Twitter users.
“The fact that you lead a 400+ million movie and you’re still not a movie star (or respected actor) proves Tarantino’s point,” wrote another.
Martin Scorsese: Marvel movies crowd out screens, making it difficult for smaller movies to be shown.
Reddit Guy Simu Liu, three years later: And here’s why this is about me, personally.
— ScreenSlate (@ScreenSlate) November 22, 2022
It’s of note that Liu has come under fire in the past after internet sleuths found what appeared to be some problematic old Reddit and 4Chan comments from the actor.
— HawkeyeSolo (@hawkeye_solo) November 22, 2022
People just love to bring up the old Reddit comments on Twitter — a platform where Liu is prolific and, at times, antagonistic.
I will give Simu Liu credit for one thing: He is extraordinarily talented at consistently making himself look like a complete idiot on the internet https://t.co/E3d4NWTcIJ
— dee✨ (@ewokprincesss) November 23, 2022
Of course, for every film snob and celebrity hater who goes after Liu for being an overconfident, “pretty boy stock model,” the actor has 100 hardcore fans who love what he brings to the table in terms of representation, advocacy and talent.
I don’t know what sparked this, but personally I don’t like Tarantino and could live without Scorsese. You’ve already provided more entertainment than both of them combined from where I’m sitting, and I look forward to seeing what the future holds for you.
— baz (@iambaz_uk) November 22, 2022
It’s rare that any famous person expresses a controversial opinion online without going viral and garnering significant publicity — which, as some argue, might be why Liu speaks out on Twitter so much.
That, or he’s simply one of those movie stars who are “just like us,” beyond the fact that he has also lived in Toronto.