Simu Liu made history Friday as the first Asian superhero to lead a film in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
The actor, 32, wrote a heartfelt letter to the cast, crew, and fans of Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings, celebrating the movie’s premiere on Instagram with some fan art by Jarvis Kim.
“The sun rose today to a world where Asian superheroes exist as the leads of their story; that is the gift that [director Destin Daniel Cretton] and @marvelstudios has bestowed upon all of us, across all communities, everywhere. A celebration and a sharing of culture, of language, of laughter, of excitement, of sorrow and of heartbreak,” he began the caption.
“I need to say a few words about our director, who has put more work into this thing than you could possibly imagine. Thank you for making this all happen, Destin. For your thoughtfulness, for the dedication and commitment you showed each and every day, for the personal sacrifices you made, and for giving me the opportunity to be a vessel for your story,” Liu wrote. “I will never be able to repay what I have learned from my time with you.”
He went on to thank his fellow cast members, tagging each of them in the post. “To my incredible co-stars Awkwafina, Benedict Wong, Fala Chen, Meng’er Zhang, Michelle Yeoh, Ronny Chieng, Florian “Big Nasty” Munteanu, (and non-instagrammers Sir Ben Kingsley and Tony Leung), thank you for allowing a complete newbie to occupy space in your world. I felt like I was among legends each and every day. Thank you for your patience and generosity. You are all magnificent in this movie,” Liu continued.
“I’ve said before that this film will change the world. A smile where there wasn’t one before. Pride where there was shame. Compassion where there was ignorance. If we reach out and touch even one person, then aren’t all of our lives better for it?,” Liu noted.
“Thank you @disney for throwing the full weight of your platform behind this movie. Many people did not understand that marketing during a pandemic presented unique challenges, or that we worked closely together throughout the entire process. Thank you @jrvs.km for this most beautiful artwork. And thank you all for your support. Today, finally, we make history,” he concluded.
Liu’s post was met with much praise in the comments section. “You did it Simu,” Awkwafina wrote. “BIG!!!!” Hasan Minhaj added. “Breaking boundaries!!!” Chrishell Stause commented.
The former accountant makes his breakout performance as the titular Shang-Chi, a skilled martial artist who has been trained as an assassin since childhood. After leaving the Ten Rings organization to pursue a normal life in San Francisco, he’s forced to confront his past once again.
The blockbuster is making history as the first installment in the MCU with an Asian lead and a predominantly Asian cast. It’s a welcome form of representation amid rising hate crimes against the AAPI community during the pandemic.
Liu previously spoke to PEOPLE about breaking barriers in the MCU and joining the Avengers. “I’m excited and I think for all of the good and the bad of what’s to come, it’s definitely a journey that I feel very privileged to be going on,” he said in May.
“I know how much it would’ve meant to kids and to myself as a kid seeing this when I was younger. I totally understand the importance of it,” Liu added. “I know that it’s not going to be easy, but at the same time, I feel so incredibly excited to be a part of this movement that gets to push society forward… It gets to deepen the conversation, it gets to normalize seeing Asian faces on screen and hearing Asian voices and our stories.”
We haven’t had a chance to see ‘Shang-Chi’ in theaters yet, but we hear it’s incredible!