Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings is a rousing, fantasy adventure filled with great characters, stories, conflict, and more. If it wasn’t a Marvel movie, it would be one of the coolest superhero movies you’ve ever seen full stop. And yet, it is a Marvel movie. It’s set in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and that means it has post-credit scenes that tease where it all fits.
If you haven’t seen Shang-Chi, run away now. Below, we’re going to discuss the end credit sequences and what they could mean for the future of the MCU.
Okay, so Shang-Chi has two scenes in the credits, one in the middle, and one at the end—par for the Marvel course. The one in the middle picks up right where the movie left off, with Shang-Chi (Simu Liu) and Katy (Awkwafina) leaving dinner with friends because Wong (Benedict Wong) asks them to come somewhere. He inquires about when and where Shang’s father got the Ten Rings, to which he says about a thousand years ago but doesn’t know where. Meanwhile, holograms of Bruce Banner (Mark Ruffalo) still recovering from his Infinity Gauntlet snap and Carol Danvers (Brie Larson) watch along, each representing a different school of scientific expertise. Banner explains the molecular make up of the Ten Rings makes them look much, much older than 1,000 years. Not just that, they’re also not made of any substance known to people on Earth. Carol says she’s also never encountered anything like them in her time with aliens in her space travels. Wong explains that once Shang used them, a signal was sent out from Earth. To where? We don’t know. “Welcome to the circus,” Bruce says as he and Carol exit. Wong tells the new Marvel heroes to go get some rest, they instead opt for karaoke.
The second post-credit scene plays off a line from late in the film. Shang mentions that his sister Xialing (Meng’er Zhang) is off dismantling their father’s criminal organization, also called the Ten Rings. The scene starts with Xialing back in her room at the compound and you’d assume she was in the middle of that work. But then Razor Fist (Florian Munteanu) tells her people are waiting and she sits down on what looks like a throne saying they have a lot of work to do. As the camera pulls back we see Xialing with her most trusted associates, including Jon Jon (Ronny Chieng). The camera then continues to pull back revealing a whole new Ten Rings. Now women are training alongside the men, everything is being upgraded with new technology, and Xialing’s distinct artistic style can be seen everywhere. “The Ten Rings Will Return” a final card tells us except, this time, they’ll be new and improved.
Let’s discuss the second scene first, which seems rather obvious. Xialing always aspired to have the powerful empire her father had—and brother was destined to inherit. Now that they’re without a leader, she’s decided to take charge and reshape it in her modern image. Whether or not she uses it for good or evil is the big question but one has to assume, since she lied to Shang-Chi about it, she could end up being his adversary in a future solo adventure.
The first scene is obviously more complicated. The audience is not supposed to know yet what the Rings are calling to or where/when they are from but there are some possibilities—but the comics may give us a clue. There, the rings are from beings called the Makluan, an ancient, shape-shifting race from a distant galaxy. If the rings are indeed calling to them that could, hypothetically, lead to a brand new set of MCU villains (including the most famous Makluan character, Fin Fang Foom). One could also imagine that the Dark Dwellers, the eons-old beings trapped in Ta Lo and which share some dragon-y traits with the Makluan, could have some connection to the Rings. However, the film heavily implies that the leader of the Dark Dwellers is calling out to the Rings because he can simply sense their power, not because there’s any direct connection.
So while there are certainly multiple possibilities, we’d venture to guess whatever the Rings are calling out to is something new to the Marvel Cinematic Universe and, much like post-credits scenes from earlier films, might not pay off until many years later. What do you think the Rings are calling out to? Where are they from? And what does Xialing have planned for the Ten Rings organization? Let us know below.
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