'Shang-Chi and The Legend of The Ten Rings': Simu Limu and Awkafina on the MCU’s Newest Best Friend Duo
"Katy brings out that softer side of [Shang-Chi] and that's why he's got to have his best bud with him.”
Tony and Rhodey. Rocket and Groot. Carol and Maria. Shang-Chi and Katy are just the latest to join a long list of best friends in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and they do so the only way MCU buddies know how: by saving the world.
Marvel Studios’ Shang-Chi and The Legend of The Ten Rings introduces us to this duo, who are both working as valets at a hotel in San Francisco. However, Katy knows Shang-Chi as “Shaun,” as he’s been masking his identity for the last ten years in hopes of escaping his past. When the truth is revealed, Katy doesn’t even hesitate following her best friend halfway across the world to help him with what he’s going through — which is a lot, considering Shang-Chi’s estranged dad is the head of the Ten Rings organization. And it’s a good thing Katy tags along, too, as star Simu Liu refers to the character as Shang-Chi’s “rock.”
“Shang-Chi has been through so much in his life, from losing his mother at a young age, having gone through this awful training regime and all of that, to having been sent on a mission that he did,” Liu explains to Marvel.com. “To have escaped all of that and find some sense of normalcy, Katy brings out that softer side of him and that's why he's got to have his best bud with him.”
Katy herself is on her own journey too — to find her own footing and place in the world. “When she goes on this journey, she realizes that the world is a lot bigger than she knows and it's broadening her outlook on her own life, and her own priorities,” Awkwafina explains. Noting that Shang-Chi is Katy’s “found family,” it makes their connection that much more important. Especially considering the truths Katy learns about Shang-Chi’s family and past along the way.
“Their friendship is really strong. There are certain unspoken things of understanding that Katy has about his past, and there are things she's finding out and she approaches it in a very non-judgmental way. She trusts him.”
One thing you won’t find going on between these two? A romantic connection. Their friendship is strictly platonic, by design; something the creative team was eager to show on the big screen.
“Both [writer] Dave Callahan and I talked about the strong friendships, female friendships, that we have [in our lives]. We both have a lot of strictly platonic, very close friends who happen to be women,” director Destin Daniel Cretton says. “We haven't seen a lot of those types of relationships on camera. It was exciting to play with the sidekick best friend, but not have them be the same gender. And have the banter and the fun and the comedy, but also simultaneously be a genuinely caring intimate friendship. It was really fun to write that because it feels very close to our personal experiences.”
Liu echoes that sentiment, explaining, “We really just wanted to show the world what a supportive, healthy, friendship looked like. [Awkwafina and I] had this best friend, bickery, old married couple chemistry that wasn't necessarily romantic. I don't think [Shang-Chi] would be thinking about their relationship in a romantic light. There is so much more to that friendship and I love that we portray it that way.”
As for Awkwafina, she’s perfectly fine playing the best friend and sidekick, joking “It might be an understatement to say Shang-Chi has a lot going on right now and maybe taking on a neurotic girlfriend is not the best idea. He has to deal with some things first.”
Off-screen, Liu and Awkwafina are just as close, frequently talking over the last few weeks leading up to the film’s release. This might be the pair’s first entry into the MCU, but Awkwafina has certainly been in giant blockbusters before, something Liu found himself asking her about.
“I've been asking questions, telling her how much I look up to her, and she's been so generous with her time, with her advice, and her guidance,” the star explains. “We're in constant communication. She asked me just the other day how it was all feeling. Obviously, I was, ‘This is overwhelming’ and she was, ‘Yeah tell me about it!’ She definitely knows what I'm going through and what's really great is that, I've found, people who have gone through it are ready to coach someone else and bring them gently into this crazy world.”
Experience the duo’s heroics and friendship on the big screen with Shang-Chi and The Legend of The Ten Rings, now playing in theaters! Get tickets!
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