Marvel Studios CEO Kevin Feige was on the defensive Monday while fielding questions about recent criticism regarding “Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings,” as well as a bombshell lawsuit filed by “Black Widow” star Scarlett Johansson.
At the Los Angeles premiere of “Shang-Chi,” Feige responded to a critical tweet from the tentpole’s star, Simu Liu, after Disney boss Bob Chapek came under fire for calling the blockbuster project’s mid-pandemic release strategy “an interesting experiment.”
“[Liu] is not a shy man,” Feige told the Hollywood Reporter on the red carpet. “In that particular tweet you can see, and I think everyone does, a misunderstanding. It was not the intention.
“The proof is in the movie, and we swing for the fences as we always do. With the amount of creative energy we put in and the budget, there’s no expense spared to bring this origin story to the screen.”
During an earnings call earlier this month, Chapek uttered the controversial remark in response to a query about the movie’s exclusive, 45-day theatrical window. Until now, the studio giant has been debuting films simultaneously in theaters and on Disney+ — for an additional “premier access” fee — during the COVID-19 crisis.
Many, including Liu, interpreted the “experiment” comment as an insult to the action drama’s groundbreaking all-Asian cast. Such a landmark film, several argued, deserves better than the guinea-pig treatment — especially as the highly contagious Delta variant of COVID-19 continues to spread across the United States.
“We are not an experiment,” tweeted Liu, the MCU’s first leading superhero of Asian descent. “We are the underdog; the underestimated. We are the ceiling-breakers.
“We are the celebration of culture and joy that will persevere after an embattled year. We are the surprise. I’m fired the f— up to make history … JOIN US.”
While speaking with the Hollywood Reporter, Feige also addressed an industry-shattering complaint filed by Johansson, who is suing Disney for making “Black Widow” available with premier access on Disney+ from the day it opened in theaters.
Feige told the entertainment trade magazine he is “all for amicable solutions” between the company and the movie star, who also served as an executive producer on “Black Widow.”
The standalone superhero epic starring Johansson came out early last month; “Shang-Chi” is slated to hit theaters Sept. 3.
“When you have the opportunity to showcase a hero that looks like a huge segment of the globe that feels like they haven’t been showcased, the magic can happen if you deliver,” Feige said at this week’s “Shang-Chi” premiere.
“I think [director Destin Daniel Cretton] and Simu have delivered for this movie.”
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