On Thursday, the cast, director, and executive producer of Marvel's Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings assembled for a virtual press conference with press joining from around the world. On hand were cast members Simu Liu, Awkwafina, Meng'er Zhang, and Ben Kingsley. Director Destin Daniel Cretton and Marvel Studios president Kevin Feige were also on hand for the panel moderated by Ronny Chieng. The first reactions to the film surfaced online on Monday night following its premiere in California. Below is a series of live updates from the virtual press conference for Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings.
The press conference began at 10am PT. Feige starts out by talking about how "the dream was to bring [comic books] to the big screen." He says "casting Robert Downey Jr. was the biggest risk," of the MCU and credits Downey Jr. "That decision and the success of that decision empowered us."
It turns to Cretton to talk about his history of working with teenagers as a childcare worker at a group home. "That job affected my entire life, my world view," Cretton says. "I feel like the stories that I am drawn to are a combination of humor, optimism, but also not shying away from th very real darkness and pain that we all experience as humans," he said. "I think this movie really does encapsulate a lot of the things that I really believe in."
Sir Ben Kingsley is asked to say hello to, "Ronnie's mom," which he has fun with before discussing how portraying Ghandi brought similarities in social impacts with this movie. He explains how the stories are rooted in memory, loss, families torn apart and reconfigured, and says, "All of this is from Destin's heart, from Kevin's heart." He credits their experiences. "If we can demonstrate the energy [from the set], it will be soothing and healing."
Chieng turns to Meng'er Zhang to hear about the differences on stage and on set. She was "so nervous," for this movie but Feige calmed her nerves. "I also remember when we were doing some stunts, it was so different from stage acting," she said. "I remember the make up team doing the final touch on my face eto make sure everything's perfect...I'm ready, I was ready, I'm in character and then, '3, 2, 1, action!' and the wind...!"
Chieng asks Awkwafina about the physical demands for this. "II think this was slightly more physically demanding [than SpongeBob],"she said. "I was more like, falling, so I was working as a tam with gravity. When I fall my neck kinda gives out. It's a me problem...I actually went to a race track and learned how to drift which is reallyy fun...and then I learned how to shoot a bow and arrow."prevnext
Simu Liu says he felt like he had "impostor syndrome" while working with such talented and established co-stars. "I really had never allowed myself to imagine being a part of the MCU," he said. He credits Awkwafina for calming his nerves. "Everyday it was like waking up to another dream."
Were Shang-Chi and Katy friends or love interests? "Aren't all friendships potential love interests?" Cretton responds. "We actually have a lot of friends who are not the same gender as us. It is strictly platonic but also very intimate, caring... We haven't seen a lot of that on screen and we're really excited to create that relationship between Shang-Chi and Katy...It also felt ik the only way to go naturally because Shang-Chi is so deep in his inner struggle."
Warren Thompson asks about if Simu Liu's tweet about Shang-Chi helped get him on Marvel's radar. "I did not s that," Feige said. "Unfortunately, Simu, it was not your tweeting. It was your acting...now did Sarah Finn see that, our casting director, that I don't know." They also did not know Simu Liu was athletic and capable of martial arts. Cretton did see Simu Liu's audition where he did a backflip and landed in the Black Widow pose, complete with a hair flip at the end.prevnext
They are asked a bout bringing a lot of Mandarin to the film. "That conversation started ini the writers room and then once our actors came in it was always a factor, these are all bilingual, trilingual, quadrilingual characters who could speak whatever language they'd speak at the time," Cretton said.
Simu Liu points out that there is a great line of dialogue which calls out English-speaking characters not speaking, "ABC."0comments
When did the film become less about the franchise and more about the culture? "It was always about both," Feige said. "To bring this character specifically into the MCU but also, more importantly, representation of another kind to this film." Cretton came to him with a presentation that was "really this story, this father, this son," Feige recalls, and hopes Cretton reveals the pitch presentation one day. Cretton says the cool thing is that it is a Marvel film which is doing the representation and inclusion.
Did Ryan Coogler have advice for Cretton? "I really personally connect with Shang-Chi's journey," Cretton said. "It is a journey of self discovery, of growing up, of learning how to deal with pain that he's been running away from his entire life...when he is finally able to embrace good, bad, and accept it all as a part of himself, that's when he steps into his big boy shoes and I think that's kind of what we're al doing as humans...I did have a giant personal fear of stepping into a movie like this. When I pitched to Kevin, in the pitch, one of the last things...I told myself I was going to be myself. I have a tendency to be pressured to not be myself. I told myself I'm gonna be myself and I was happy I did that. The last thing I admitted, they asked me, 'Have you always wanted to do a big Marvel movie?' and I thought, 'Should I tell them?'" He recalls that the truth is he told his agent just weeks earlier that he never wanted to make a Marvel movie. He explained to them that the announcement of Shang-Chi sparked something in him that prompted him to want to take a meeting which turned into this. When he was leaving he thought, "You're an idiot for saying that final thing." He did have a conversation with Ryan Coogler. "I was scared of stepping into a big studio movie like this and scared of what it might do it me and the pressure. Will I cave? I had a lot of fears. The thing that Ryan said to me which really eased my mind was, 'The pressure is hard. It'll be the hardest thing you've done up to this point but none of that pressure, none of those complications come from the people you're working with...there is an environment of curiosity, of exploration, that comes from the top down. There is no fear based mentality in this studio that really has allowed us top take risks and chances and explore that same fearless exploration with everybody involved in this film...and I think that's a huge reason the movie turned out the way that it did."prev