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Simu Liu Clarifies ‘Moon Knight’ Mandarin Translator Dig: Marvel Is Not ‘Monolithic’ in Representation

"I didn’t want to make it into a big political thing."

Oscar Isaac as Mr. Knight in Marvel Studios' MOON KNIGHT, exclusively on Disney+. Photo courtesy of Marvel Studios. ©Marvel Studios 2022. All Rights Reserved.

“Moon Knight”

Courtesy of Marvel Studios

Simu Liu is reflecting on his “Moon Knight” comments.

After the “Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings” MCU star tweeted last month that Disney+ series “Moon Knight” stumbled over a sequence involving Mandarin, Liu is clarifying his take on Marvel.

The “Barbie” actor wrote, “Alright Arthur Harrow needs to fire his Mandarin teacher” after a “Moon Knight” episode included Ethan Hawke’s character Arthur speaking Mandarin to one of his cult followers, played by Miriam Nyarko. Other “Moon Knight” viewers commented on Liu’s tweet confirming that there were “zero Mandarin/Chinese words spoken” in the scene.

“I think there’s maybe a misconception that Marvel is this kind of monolithic, all-powerful single organism with infinite resources,” Liu now told GQ. “I think that it’s easy to allocate the blame to Marvel as a whole. If you really break it down, there was a translator that probably shouldn’t have been a translator. There were probably a couple of people in the decision-making process that should have raised a flag that didn’t.”

Liu continued, “I have full appreciation for the fact that Mandarin is not an easy language. I didn’t want to make it into a big political thing. I just wanted to make fun of it because the sound that came out of that man’s mouth did not resemble Mandarin in any way, shape or form.”

In the interview, Liu spoke out about social media as a whole, warning of the ability for forums to exacerbate “the mob mentality” and even become more of a “liability” instead of an agent for change. Instead, Liu hopes to utilize his platform as an MCU star to create a “lexicon” for those looking to discuss their AAPI identities.

“[Shang-Chi allowed] me to be in the driver’s seat of projects that wouldn’t otherwise exist,” Liu said. “For example, this book, or movies that I’m really excited to help get made. Not necessarily just jumping on to the next studio movie, but there are stories out there that I genuinely feel like without my hand pushing them forward, would never get told. Third-culture kids grew up so starved for that kind of content. I just want the next generation to not experience that.”

Liu admitted to Vanity Fair earlier this year that as an Asian-American actor, he is “bombarded” with questions of representation. “I was not an Asian studies major. Nothing prepared me,” Liu said of his “Shang-Chi” fame. “What I wasn’t prepared for was backlash from within, for people to say, ‘He’s not our representative.’ Even if there are only a couple of people saying it, it always hurts.”

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