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Landmark Asian-Led Superhero Movie 'Shang-Chi' Blasts Labor Day Records

SAN FRANCISCO (KPIX) -- It's opening weekend for Marvel's highly anticipated, first-ever, Asian-led superhero movie Shang-Chi and the Legend of The Ten Rings. Parts of the history-making film were shot and set in San Francisco.

It is the first Marvel Cinematic Universe installment centered around an Asian lead, Simu Liu, and a predominantly Asian cast.

Liu sat down with KPIX 5's Betty Yu at the Fairmont Hotel Sunday, hours before he threw out the first pitch at the Giants game against the Dodgers at Oracle Park.

When asked how he would define superhero, Liu said:

"It's crazy. There's parts of it that I'm not used to. I'm not used to having an action figure or anything like that. So I guess that comes with it but I think a superhero, aside from all of the movie posters and the capes and all of that, I think the best ones are ordinary people who, under extraordinary circumstances, do the right thing."

Marvel's newest blockbuster is breaking boundaries like never before. It has already smashed the record for Labor Day openings with an estimated $71 million in ticket sales. It's also one of the best debuts since the pandemic began.

Several stunt scenes were filmed in San Francisco. Because of restrictions during the pandemic, crews had to build and create popular San Francisco landmarks and infrastructure in Australia, where most of the movie was shot.

The film is directed and written by Asian Americans and it speaks to the community's experience. It's ultimately a family drama about a young immigrant who refuses to follow in his father's footsteps.

"This story is told through our lens and what I mean by that is there are going to be moments that are nuanced, that are not explained, that are not hit over the audience's head," Liu said. "That just show you this is the space that we live in. It's the moments like Shaun taking off his Jordans as he's entering Katy's apartment."

Shang-Chi is debuting at a time when the Asian American community is looking for more representation and visibility.

Liu, who grew up in Canada, said he's turned his own shame into pride.

"It was clear to me, at least very early on in my life, that Asianness was not something that was valued by the culture that I lived in or the society that I lived in and so I had to hide that as much as I could and try to assimilate," Liu said. "What I'm really, really happy to have gone on in my personal journey in my life is a sense of coming full circle and recognizing where I came from and recognizing my parents' story and all the work and the sacrifices that they made."

His advice to those who want to push the boundaries of pop culture:

"I would say your community is your superpower. Learn to see who you are as a strength and lean into that and be proud of that. And don't be afraid to get a little squeaky," Liu said.

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