Scarlett Johansson, known for her breakout role in “Ghost in the Shell,” has recently reprised her status as a trailblazer for Asian American representation in Hollywood. Starring alongside former stock photo model Simu Liu, Johansson received critical acclaim for her surprise appearance in the film “Shang-Chi.” Audiences concerned about how Marvel Studios would handle their first film with a predominantly Asian cast walked into theatres skeptical and out pleasantly surprised.
“Scarjo is so brave for breaking the glass and bamboo ceiling,” Wilhelmina Wellesley ’23 commented. “I honestly love seeing a major film studio take, like, such groundbreaking efforts to be culturally inclusive.”
Johansson plays the mentor of protagonist Shang-Chi, who teaches him the true meaning of filial piety and what it means to embrace his inner Asian just as she does. Numerous Asian viewers and critics alike have expressed their appreciation for the actress’ refreshing dialogue and authentic Chinese accent, a reflection of Johansson’s rigorous training that included watching 10 consecutive hours of “NiHao Kai-Lan.”
Still, some viewers have questioned the appropriateness of Johansson’s role given her skin color.
“I don’t see the problem here,” Wesleyan Wellesley ’21 responds. “She’s an artist. Imitating others is what actors do for a living.”
Indeed, defenses for the actress include praise for her ability to overcome her skin color and take on challenging roles. Some fans go as far as suggesting other cast members in “Shang-Chi” could learn from Johansson’s willingness to defy racial norms in the film industry, showing Marvel’s diverse audience that, really, we’re all the same inside.
“Frankly, I don’t even see color.” Wilhelmina asserts. “I see people.”
When asked of her opinion towards Liu’s performance, Wilhelmina asked whether that was a dish or skin disease before expressing her excitement for an upcoming Chinese film that will feature rising wuxia icon Dylan Sprouse.