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Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings

Simu Liu says his ‘Moon Knight’ criticism was blown out of proportion

Lost in translation.
This article is over 2 years old and may contain outdated information

Shang-Chi star Simu Liu made waves earlier this year by criticizing a scene in the second episode of Moon Knight. It came as Ethan Hawke’s Arthur Harrow showed off his worldliness by revealing he and his followers had to learn a second language, with Harrow having chosen Mandarin Chinese. He then demonstrated what he’d learned, though as Liu said:

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His comment quickly went viral, though now Liu has explained in an interview with GQ that his reaction was blown way out of proportion.

“I think there’s maybe a misconception that Marvel is this kind of monolithic, all-powerful single organism with infinite resources. I think that it’s easy to allocate the blame to Marvel as a whole. If you really break it down, there was a translator that probably shouldn’t have been a translator. There were probably a couple of people in the decision-making process that should have raised a flag that didn’t.

I have full appreciation for the fact that Mandarin is not an easy language. I didn’t want to make it into a big political thing. I just wanted to make fun of it because the sound that came out of that man’s mouth did not resemble Mandarin in any way, shape or form.”

It’s a fair point. It would have been one thing if Harrow had garbled or mispronounced the line, but for it to not even vaguely be Mandarin in any way whatsoever is an unambiguous failing.

The mistake was especially disappointing given the fact that showrunner Mohamed Diab had pushed for Moon Knight to be an authentic reflection of Egyptian culture. In interviews, he said he wanted as many Egyptians working on the show as possible and for the setting and story to accurately portray his home country. But evidently, Diab wasn’t successful in presenting a perfect show.

Even so, as Liu correctly points out, it’s a small flaw rather than a huge issue. Still, the fact remains that Mandarin is the language with the most native speakers in the world. So, let’s just hope this is a lesson to Disney and Marvel Studios not to cheap out on translation, even if it’s just for a single line of dialogue.

Moon Knight is available to stream on Disney Plus.

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David James
I'm a writer/editor who's been at the site since 2015. Love writing about video games and will crawl over broken glass to write about anything related to Hideo Kojima. But am happy to write about anything and everything, so long as it's interesting!