Peter Parker's Uncle Ben said it best: With great power comes great responsibility.
It's true for superheroes and for the people who play them, and it's a quote that Simu Liu has really taken to heart. The 32-year-old star, best known for the Canadian comedy Kim's Convenience, is about to join the MCU as the lead in Marvel's Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings, but he's not waiting for his movie to come out to start using his powers for good.
Not only is he being vocal about combatting anti-Asian racism, but he's also on a mission to provide up to a million meals to children facing hunger across California by partnering with the California Milk Processor Board (creators of "got milk?") and No Kid Hungry.
"I think when you talk about superheroes and you think about who superheroes have the biggest effect on, it's man-children like me, but real children are the ones who I think really love superhero movies and buy into the ethos and the values," he tells E! News. "Helping children has been one of the things that I'm most looking forward to as I step into this platform and all of the privileges that come with it."
And if Simu's got to crack a few eggs with his biceps to help those children, so be it.
To launch the campaign, which is called #StayStrongTogether, he released a video that shows him going about his day in the way only a superhero can—punching walls, effortlessly squeezing toothpaste out of empty tubes, blowing away the clouds in the sky and using his impressive arm muscles to pour milk and make his breakfast.
People have been cracking eggs with their biceps on TikTok for a while now, and apparently it's a harder task than it looks. The trick took a few takes.
"You think of an egg as such a fragile thing, but I don't know if you've ever tried to crack an egg just by, like, ripping it, but you can't do it," he says (and no, we have not tried). "It's pretty tough."
Fortunately for all of us, Simu's a superhero with superhero biceps, a superhero action figure he can buy at Target (which he has done), and a real opportunity to make an impact on children and the AAPI community as he prepares for Shang-Chi to actually be released.
"It's really in this time that I've really started to realize the impact that this can have," he says. "Seeing my action figure on the shelf of a Target...it's like so weird and empowering but at the same time weird to see yourself in that way. It's all just feeding this incredible moment, this groundswell moment for the whole community that I'm really excited to experience."
He says this sort of limbo period before the movie's release has given him "breathing room" to think about what he wants to do with his new platform.
"It's not just to ride off into the sunset with a bag of money," he says. "It's definitely thinking of ways in which I can improve our community, and more than just helping children everywhere, it's also very much a piece of being a representative of the Asian American or Asian community, especially [because] May is Asian Heritage Month, and in the wake of a spike in hate crimes and discrimination against people in the Asian community, I think it's really important to have a positive moment and something that we can all rally behind and cheer for."
For the past few weeks, Simu's Instagram Story has been filled with joyful videos and pictures of him and many other fans acquiring Shang-Chi action figures, and the actor, who once tweeted at Marvel asking if he could play Shang-Chi, says it still feels unbelievable that this is happening.
"It's like a dream come true," he says. "This is all I wanted a as a kid, as a 6-year-old, maybe even as a 16-year-old, if I'm honest. And to see that full circle moment is incredible. I keep expecting the clock to strike midnight, and for my carriage to turn into a pumpkin."
These things don't happen to people like him, Simu says.
"I'm not just talking about my ethnicity. I've lived such a normal life," he claims. "I immigrated to Canada [from China] when I was 5 years old. I fought with my parents, they wanted me to become a lawyer or a doctor or an engineer and then I became an accountant for some reason, and then eventually found my way to rock bottom where I was basically laid off, totally unemployed, and decided to take a chance in that moment to just try something out that I'd always been interested in. And for it to lead me here is just unbelievable."
When Shang-Chi finally arrives in theaters, Simu will be joining the ranks of the biggest movie franchise in the world, as part of a new era that includes more women and people of color than ever before. He's the first Asian lead in the MCU, but the movie's not just about breaking social barriers. It's also going to kick a lot of ass.
"I promise that Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings is going to deliver action sequences in a way that MCU fans, or any fans, have never seen before, and that is personal promise," he says. "You can stamp it, you can quote it, you can guarantee it. You guys are in for a treat, for sure. And I'm so excited."
Shang-Chi arrives in theaters on Sept 3, 2021.
To participate in the #StayStrongTogether campaign, all you have to do is tweet. Any message that uses that hashtag and tags @gotmilk and two other friends will raise a $1 donation toward the goal of one million meals.
Hit play on both videos above to her more from Simu!