Shang-Chi is in Barbie, Because What is Reality Anymore?

It's a long shot, but maybe this is how we get mutants in the MCU?

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Simu Liu in Marvel's Shang-Chi & the Legend of the Ten Rings.
Image: Marvel Studios

Mattel’s upcoming Barbie movie—yes, really, this is happening—is becoming more newsworthy than you’d originally expect. The upcoming film already drew attention when it was announced that Little Women’s Greta Gerwig would direct it, with Margot Robbie in the title role. Now, in addition to the recent additions of Ryan Gosling as Ken and America Ferrera as an unknown character to the cast, it can add a recent Marvel hero to its ranks.

The Hollywood Reporter reports that Simu Liu, still riding the high of Shang-Chi and Kim’s Convenience, is in negotiations to join the cast ahead of its planned filming start later this year. At present, the details surrounding his character are under wraps, much like how it is with Ferrera’s recent casting. It feels reasonable to guess that he’ll be a friend of Ken’s, but it’s a guess as to which one. Outside of Ken’s younger brother Tommy and the black characters Brad and Curtis, there’s only a handful of named male characters from Barbie toy canon that Liu could playing. For all we know, he could even be playing an original character named Shaun. Anything’s possible!

It’s genuinely strange how outside of the two top-billed leads and Gerwig directing (from a script between her and Marriage Story’s Noah Baumbach), not much is actually known about just what the Barbie movie will actually be. But on some level, that appears to be the point: last year, Robbie herself said that she hoped the inclusion of the Oscar-nominated director would turn heads and get people to see the movie. And maybe she’s right, but the Barbie movie is also coming at a time when it’s becoming clearer than ever how much Hollywood wants to mine everyone’s nostalgia for profit. The marketing for this film will have to work hard in convincing folks that this will be worth watching beyond its strange cast and director.


Barbie is expected to release in 2023.

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