Quentin Tarantino became the latest auteur to fire a shot at Marvel, saying that the actors who play its superheroes aren’t movie stars. But one of those actors, “Shang-Chi” leading man Simu Liu, had something to say about that.
“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. 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,” Liu fired back in a tweet.
In an interview with the podcast “2 Bears, 1 Cave,” Tarantino opined that for franchises like Marvel, the characters are the biggest audience draw rather than the actors who play them, a major departure from the actor-driven formula that governed Hollywood filmmaking throughout the 20th century.
“Part of the Marvel-ization of Hollywood is…you have all these actors who have become famous playing these characters,” Tarantino said. “But they’re not movie stars. Right? Captain America is the star. Or Thor is the star. I mean, I’m not the first person to say that. I think that’s been said a zillion times…but it’s like, you know, it’s these franchise characters that become a star.”
Tarantino stressed that he doesn’t hate superhero movies and believes that he probably would be more excited for them if they had been coming out when he was getting into showbiz in his 20s.
“My only axe to grind against them is they’re the only things that seem to be made,” he added. “And they’re the only things that seem to generate any kind of excitement amongst a fan base or even for the studio making them. That’s what they’re excited about. And so it’s just the fact that they are the entire representation of this era of movies right now. There’s not really much room for anything else. That’s my problem.”
Simu Liu, meanwhile, defended Marvel Studios by touting the opportunities that it offered him and other actors of color with its emphasis towards on-screen diversity. When “Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings” was released last year, Liu regularly expressed his pride in being the lead in a major blockbuster with a primarily Asian cast, one that became the first movie since the pandemic began to gross over $200 million at the North American box office.
He expressed that pride again in his riposte to Tarantino, noting how during the actor-driven days of Hollywood, white actors got almost all the big breaks.
“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,” he tweeted. “I loved the ‘Golden Age’ too, but it was white as hell.”