Simu Liu was far from confident about the choice to give Shang-Chi a pair of sneakers as part of his superhero uniform, but warmed to the idea after getting a sense for what the costume designer and studio were going for with it, the actor revealed during a recent interview. The idea, according to artist Andy Park, was to give the character an element of his look that was "uniquely his." That might feel more necessary with Shang-Chi than with other Marvel characters, since the armor look of his outfit comes from his mother, and the Ten Rings are tied to his father.
Park said that the character, who has gone from a karate gi to a Bruce Lee-inspired jumpsuit to various other looks over the decades in the comics, was rebuilt from the ground up for the movie. There was no mandate from Marvel to hold onto those elements, so the idea was to give the character a look that was respectful to his comic book roots but not beholden to them.
"I fought against it initially," Liu admitted in a conversation with Inverse. "I remember doing the costume fitting and being like, 'Is he the first superhero to wear running shoes? He should be wearing, like, battle boots or something.' I didn't see it the way they saw it."
Later, though, he came around -- although apparently not until the film was in production. Maybe it was being around other super-characters and seeing the different presentation.
"As we got into production, I was like, 'Oh, it's actually really cool,'" Liu explained. "It makes him relatable." Especially, apparently, to Western audiences.
"I wanted to give him a piece that's solely his," Park added in the same article. "That's why I added the shoes, to have something from the west that is his. That's the story of him. You see it on his costume."
In Shang-Chi and the Legends of the Ten Rings, Shang-Chi must confront the past he thought he left behind when he is drawn into the web of the mysterious Ten Rings organization. The movie stars Liu alongside Awkwafina, Michelle Yeoh, Ben Kingsley, and Benedict Wong. Shang-Chi is in some theaters now, having broken box office records over Labor Day Weekend and become one of the highest grossing films of 2021, and also available on Disney+.