Marvel’s First Asian Superhero Is Getting Called Out for Old ‘Racist’ Tweets

Tweets by “Shang Chi” actor Simu Liu that some consider racist are now being used as an excuse to spread anti-Asian hate. 
Shamani Joshi
Mumbai, IN
Marvel’s First Asian Superhero is Getting Called Out for 'Racist' Tweets
Simu Liu of Marvel Studios' 'Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings' at the San Diego Comic-Con International 2019. Photo by Rodriguez/Getty Images for Disney/AFP

Simu Liu - an Asian-origin Canadian actor known for playing Jung Kim in the award-winning TV show Kim’s Convenience - made headlines when Marvel Studios announced that he would play Shang Chi, the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s first Asian superhero. 

But when Marvel dropped the trailer for Shang Chi and The Legend of The Ten Rings on April 19, some Twitter users dug up nearly decade-old tweets of Liu, which they felt were racist. 


One tweet from the star of the long-anticipated Asian superhero movie, drew most of the anger: the now-deleted 2012 tweet where Liu had said, “I thought I was at a Nicki Minaj concert for 20 minutes, before I realized it was a homeless man yelling at a pigeon.” Not only did this tweet set off Nicki Minaj stans on the Kim's Convenience actor, but it also led to some social media users suggesting that despite his speeches about his immigrant status, Liu was anti-Black. 

Still, many users stood by the actor, saying he was probably just hating on Minaj because he didn’t like her music, not because he was racist. 

But this pushed people to dig out other tweets that seemed questionable to them. One user pulled up a tweet from 2014, where the actor had said, “Is it legal for Ariana Grande to be dating Big Sean? Just wondering.” Another user pinpointed a 2012 tweet where Liu used the word “retarded” while referencing a pair of heels. 

The actor has now apologised for some of his old tweets, dismissing them as “a 23-year-old trying to be clever”.

Many Twitter users pointed out that the incident has emerged as an example of people tearing people down when they see them in the spotlight. Others felt it wasn’t fair to call out Liu over old tweets when people weren’t holding white actors accountable for the same. 


The conversation around whether Liu’s tweets were racist or not sparked a tirade of anti-Asian hate. Some users began quote tweeting Liu, hurling nasty anti-Asian sentiments that assumed he ate dogs or couldn’t see because of his “eyes”.

This isn’t Liu’s first brush with controversial Twitter behaviour. Last December, Liu drew flak for deleting a 2018 tweet calling out actor and producer Mark Wahlberg for assaulting two Asian men as a teenager, after he scored a role in a film starring Wahlberg. 

This incident has reignited conversations on the explosive nature of cancel culture. Some pointed out that Liu may have evolved since comparing Minaj to a homeless person, and deserves support in an age where Asians are the targets of heinous crimes and racism. 

While there’s something particularly revolutionary about cancelling celebrities who have gotten away with misbehaving for years - like when Gen Z cancelled Eminem for his misogynist lyrics or J.K. Rowling for her transphobic transgressions - the problematic part about the movement trying to cancel Liu is that it became an excuse to encourage anti-Asian hate. 

The irony of internet trolling truly sinks in when you realise that someone being called out for apparent racist old tweets is then subjected to… racism. 

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