Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings have finally premiered, and it has brought a new superhero to the MCU. In fact, this is the first Phase 4 movie that features a new never before seen MCU hero. The movie has received critical and fan appreciation on the review aggregate site Rotten Tomatoes.
Moreover, it is doing great box office business as well. As such, it’s poised to become another Marvel hit. Now, there was a lot going on in the movie that sets up Simu Liu as being the Master of Kung Fu. It was directed by Destin Daniel Cretton and had a lot of unique elements that haven’t been seen before in the MCU till now.
Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings picks up pretty much straight after the events of Avengers: Endgame. We see Shang-Chi living in San Francisco, California where he works as a valet. His normal life turns upside down when assassins of the Ten Rings organization pursue him for the Jade pendant his mother gave him.
Shang-Chi is able to successfully defeat the assassins, but he can’t get rid of his past that is trying to catch up to him. After all, it is his father Wenwu aka the Mandarin (Tony Leung) who sent the assassins after him. Over multiple events, both father and son are reunited (along with Shang-Chi’s sister Xialing (Meng’er Zhang).
Wenwu brings the siblings to him because he believes that his wife and their mother, Jiang Li (Fala Chen) isn’t dead. As such, he wants to bring her back. But Wenwu doesn’t understand that he is being tricked and that his desire to bring his wife back would mean unleashing a powerful ancient evil called the Dweller-in-Darkness.
But Wenwu doesn’t know or care about any of that. He is ready to burn his wife’s village to the ground to bring her back. After all, he thinks that the people of Ta-Lo are holding her hostage. So now it’s up to Shang-Chi and Xialing to stop Wenwu. So the siblings along with Katy (Awkwafina) head to the land their mother came from- Ta-Lo.
There they meet Ying Nan (Michelle Yeoh), their aunt. She helps them understand their mother as well as the place she came from better. But more than that she helps train them for the upcoming fight against Wenwu and the Ten Rings so that the Dweller-in-Darkness doesn’t get released. Thus, the stage is set for an epic climax full of mystical and magical fights.
More than this, Shang-Chi brilliantly sets up multiple story points that take the story forward. So here’s a breakdown of all that took place in Shang-Chi’s ending and or how it impacts the MCU in the future:
One of the major points in the finale of the movie is Wenwu arriving with the Ten Rings in Ta-Lo to unleash the Dweller-in-Darkness. The Dweller is an ancient soul-sucking Cthulhu-like being. It got defeated by the Great Protector, who is Ta-Lo’s dragon.
After its defeat, it was imprisoned for thousands of years behind the Dark Gate. In Shang-Chi, the Dweller-in-Darkness is shown to have smaller creatures that work as its minions. They steal the souls of other living beings and bring them to their master so that it can power him.
But the Dweller-in-Darkness doesn’t need to entirely rely on the minions. It has these powers as well. So it can consume souls, and after that, it becomes mostly unkillable. In the comics, the Dweller-in-Darkness is a Fear Lord and hails from another dimension.
Shang-Chi’s version of the Dweller-in-Darkness also comes from another dimension. However, it’s not clarified whether it is a Fear Lord or not. Even though the Dweller-in-Darkness is hidden behind the Dark Gate, Wenwu uses his Ten Rings to destroy the barrier and free the demon. This will potentially allow it to travel to another dimension after destroying Ta-Lo.
Now, Ta-Lo exists in another dimension entirely. It is only accessible on Earth after navigating a hugely complex maze or by figuring out a single path that opens up only once every year. It’s a mystical land that’s tasked with guarding the Dark Gate as well as keeping the feared Dweller-in-Darkness walled off forever.
Ta-Lo isn’t a new concept that was made for the movie. It has existed in Marvel comics as well. There it’s a pocket dimension situated in the God Realms. The Ta-Lo natives have been residing there for about 4000 years and are tasked with defending the Dark Gate independently.
This realm has a powerful dragon called the Great Protector. It interferes to protect the Dark Gates and Ta-Lo from time to time. The dragon prevented the Dweller-in-Darkness from escaping when it originally attacked and again when it tried to escape in Shang-Chi. Ta-Lo isn’t the only city or dimension of its kind.
The film comments that others like it do exist in the universe. In the climax of the movie, Shang-Chi gets the Ten Rings from his father and uses them to fatally shoot the Dweller-in-Darkness. He does this with the help of the Great Protector, his sister Xialing, and Katy.
The battle leaves Ta-Lo crippled, but the locals are resilient. So they rebuild and honor the dead. Now, they don’t need to think or worry about the Dweller-in-Darkness coming back anymore.
However, this doesn’t mean peace. There’s still a chance that other beasts from other places could come through the Dark Gate.
During the final battle of Shang-Chi, Wenwu gives his Ten Rings to his son so that he can use them to save the day. This happens after the son and father battle it out with each other. Shang-Chi wants to stop his father from destroying the gate, but Wenwu wants his wife back. The ensuing battle shows that Shang-Chi is ready and can wield the Ten Rings.
Also, to lend more emotional impact to the scene, Wenwu gave the rings to his son when the Dweller-in-Darkness was taking his soul. Now, Wenwu trained Shang-Chi from a young age so that he could become a lethal assassin and lead his Ten Rings gang in the future.
But this wasn’t the life that his son wanted for himself. He didn’t want to be a killer. So, Wenwu finally passing on the rings to Shang-Chi shows that he has accepted the life and ideal that his son has chosen for himself. All the while accepting that he was wrong in his ways.
So after years of trying to mold his son into a killer and being hard on him for not being good enough, Wenwu finally realizes that it’s his son who is the better man. Thanks to Wenwu’s sacrifice, these powerful weapons will now be safe in Shang-Chi’s hands.
Even before Wenwu’s sacrifice, Shang-Chi had demonstrated his full control over the Ten Rings. However, it is only at the end of the movie that he officially gets the rings. At the start of the film, Shang-Chi is shown as a highly skilled fighter and assassin.
Throughout the movie, his power levels increase tremendously, and he reaches his peak by the end. Shang-Chi gets a dragon-scale suit that acts as his armor and offers him incredible protection. Along with this, he can use the Ten Rings in various ways.
Shang-Chi uses these rings for shooting energy projectiles. Also, he can use them to jump pretty long distances. Under Shang-Chi, the rings emit light, whereas under Wenwu it was blue. His powers are elevated at the ending of the movie because of Ta-Lo’s setting.
The movie explains that Shang-Chi’s powers have increased because of his connection to the Great Protector. Also, as long as he as well as the residents of Ta-Lo stay within the boundaries, they will experience elevated power levels as well.
This is because his mother was gifted with the power of the Great Protector when she was in Ta-Lo. But she gave it all up to start a family with Wenwu. Shang-Chi’s improved powers allow him to use the Ten Rings in a different way from Wenwu.
For one, it allows him to manipulate the air. However, these improved powers won’t stay with him after he comes back to the main MCU dimension. But thanks to the Ten Rings, he will still stay plenty powerful.
In Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings, Wenwu leads the Ten Rings organization. In the MCU, this organization has a different future thanks to the movie. They first appeared as the secondary villains in the Iron Man movie. The Ten Rings kidnapped Tony Stark, but apart from this, they have otherwise been operating in the background under Wenwu’s leadership.
But Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings ends with the Ten Rings organization getting drastically changed as Shang-Chi’s sister Xialing takes command. She’s brought those involved with her fighting tournament to the organization and with the help of Razorfist overhauled the Ten Rings base of operations.
The biggest change she makes is letting women get trained to fight, which Wenwu didn’t allow. After all, Xialing wasn’t allowed to be trained with the boys as well. But she watched the moves of the fighters and then learned it by herself.
So now that the Ten Rings are under new leadership and have a new look complete with new recruits, Shang-Chi’s post-credits scene shows that they will return. Right now, the future project/s they might appear in isn’t known, but the Ten Rings will surely have a role to play in MCU’s future.
Xialing can bring them into the 21st century and re-establish their presence in a post-Avengers: Endgame world. Now, Xialing can reform the organization to be more heroic, but that doesn’t seem likely. The MCU is limited on their evil or big organizations. So that is one void that the Ten Rings could fulfill in MCU’s future.
Shang-Chi’s MCU future looks very promising based on where the story of the movie ends. He successfully defeats the Dweller-in-Darkness and saves Ta-Lo. After this, he returns with Katy to their normal lives in San Francisco. But then Wong (Benedict Wong) approaches them and takes the duo to Kamar-Taj.
This is where the Masters of the Mystic Arts are trained. He presumably took them there to talk about Shang-Chi’s future as well as the Ten Rings. The mid-credit scene of Shang-Chi shows Captain Marvel (Brie Larson) and Bruce Banner (Mark Ruffalo) talking to Wong, Katy, and of course Shang-Chi about the artifacts.
This scene holds massive implications of what’s to come for Shang-Chi. After all, it puts him into direct contact with the people who are officially the Avengers. Right now, calling Shang-Chi an Avengers will be a little premature. But he will surely become one after some time in the MCU.
The ending of Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings leaves us with one question, and that’s where will the hero show up next? Since he is currently with Wong, so it could mean that Simu Liu could show up in Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness.
However, there’s no confirmation about this. But a cameo is always possible. After all, the Doctor Strange sequel will deal with the multiverse and alternate dimensions or realities. So Shang-Chi protecting the Ta-Lo dimension could have put him on Doctor Strange’s radar.
This might explain why Doctor Strange doesn’t show up in Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings. After all, they might be meeting in the Doctor Strange sequel instead. Also, Doctor Strange doesn’t know Shang-Chi personally, so he might not have known how to contact him in Ta-Lo.
In the movie, the origin of the Ten Rings isn’t the focus. But they are paid attention to in the mid-credits scene of the movie. Carol, Bruce, and Wong debunk the idea that the rings have a cosmic, vibranium, or magical origin. It’s instead shown that they are a beacon to someone or something.
But who or what is at the receiving end isn’t made clear. It’s a tease that will surely be explored in a future MCU installment, most probably in the Shang-Chi sequel. There’s the possibility that the rings which the MCU redesigned as armbands could be a bracer and are meant for a larger creature.
Now, the being that the rings are calling could be the dragon-like creature known as Fin Fang Foom. So if the rings do call out to Fin Fang Foom or perhaps to the Makluan alien race he comes from, then that’s one way to introduce the character to the MCU. In Marvel comics, the rings are made of Makluan technology. So the MCU can keep that comic connection if they go this route.
However, Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings leaves the door wide open for other beings and creatures who could have connections to the rings. It remains to be seen who or what answers the call of the rings in the future.
Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings is currently playing in theaters.