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Before Shang-Chi was Shang-Chi, he was a stock image icon

Before Shang-Chi was Shang-Chi, he was a stock image icon

In “Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings,” martial arts veteran Shang-Chi has to confront the past he left behind. Chancing upon a sacred revelation online, that “past” might just include the art of stock photos.

Chances are that Simu Liu, the protagonist of Marvel’s first Asian-led film, had already crossed your online peripheries a while back. Prior to his big-screen superhero debut, it turns out Liu was once a stock image model. Locations include textbooks, advertisements, and the Getty database—just try typing keywords “Cheerful East Asian coworker,” “business person,” or “smiling,” according to Insider.

Fans have been unearthing these goldmines recently. But this isn’t the first time the (sometimes cheesy, sometimes mundane) photos resurfaced. Back in 2020, the Chinese-Canadian actor already noticed the sudden comeback of his humble portfolio, to which he said, “Legitimately wondering if I am the greatest stock photo model of all time. Totally unrelated note, please stop buying these photos.” 

In 2017, Liu showed an accountancy book cover with his face on it. “Call @Alanis Morissette because I just died from irony. I did a stock photo shoot in 2014 and it ended up here. I used to be an accountant,” he said

If you’ve ever wondered how this chapter went for him, the actor answered a fan’s question last Aug. 16. “Got paid 120 bucks and signed away all my rights to them because I was in credit card debt. Now they are everywhere.”

Like the rest of his online witnesses, we’re pretty proud of our guy’s iconic growth, and we can’t help but choose a bias from his stock image personas. Tag yourself, I’m Enthusiastically Looking at the Laptop Screen Simu Liu or, in his words, “Me laughing at the people who thought we’d flop.” Guess this is our sign to watch “Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings,” kids. 

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Photos (left) from Simu Liu’s Twitter account and (right) from Marvel Studios



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