I was invited to the “Shang-Chi and The Legend of the Ten Rings” virtual press conference. The event was moderated by actor Ronny Chieng who plays Jon Jon in the film. The participants included Simu Liu (Shang-Chi); Awkwafina (Katy); Meng’er Zhang (Xialing); Florian Munteaunu (Razor Fist); director Destin Daniel Cretton and producer Kevin Feige.
Chieng asked Feige what was his biggest risk he made in the early days that Feige felt paid off. Feige answered, “I do think still the biggest risk, which seems outrageous to say now, was casting Robert Downey, Jr. It was both the biggest risk and the biggest, most important thing in the founding of the Marvel Cinematic Universe.” He continued, “Without Robert…we wouldn’t be sitting here today.” Feige talked about what an amazing actor Downey Jr. was but that he hadn’t been an action star yet and wasn’t really a “marquis star”. He and Jon Favreau realized the bigger risk would be not casting him.
Chieng turned to Awkwafina – and in the tone of much of the press conference asked, “So, this was pretty physical movie. What do you feel was more physically demanding, this movie or SpongeBob?” After some banter, Awkwafina said she went to the racetrack to learn to drift. “And then I learned how to shoot a bow and arrow.”
Simu Liu talked about working with so many well-known actors on set. “My nerves were sky high. I was an actor from Toronto, and I really had never allowed myself to imagine being a part of the MCU. I mean, it’s the craziest dream that someone can possibly dream. And Nora (Awkwafina) did such a great job of putting me at ease and… being in the moment with me and we had such a beautiful chemistry.” He continued by calling it “bickering old couple chemistry” from the start.
Cretton said that he personally connected with Shang-Chi’s journey. “I love that this is a superhero that doesn’t get splashed with chemicals to get his superpower… that it is a journey of self-discovery, of growing up, of learning how to finally deal with pain that he’s been running away from his entire life. And that when he is finally able to look inside into his past and embrace good, bad, the joy, the pain, and accept it all as a part of himself, that’s when he finally steps into his big boy shoes…I think that’s kind of what we’re all doing as humans in some way or another….I really connect with that.”
“Shang-Chi and The Legend of the Ten Rings” debuts in theaters on September 3rd, 2021.