Following Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings' theatrical debut, which continues to dominate at the box office, Marvel fans have learned more about the making of this hero's origin story and its potential impact on the greater MCU.
The latter was actually the focus of the film's post-credits scenes, which featured a few familiar faces while also offering hints about their own upcoming stories as well.
Post-credits scenes have been part of the Marvel tradition since 2008's Iron Man and are integral to the MCU's connective storytelling. They're also a chance for a specific film's writers and director to contribute to the franchise's overarching plot.
However, the process of creating these anticipated teases is surprisingly fluid; but, in the end, the powers that be at Marvel Studios always have the final word.
Shang-Chi Director Talks Marvel Post-Credits Scenes
When Shang-Chi director Destin Daniel Cretton was asked by Yahoo! Entertainment about the process of developing post-credits scenes for Marvel Studios and whether he as the director had any influence, Cretton said that "You would think that more things came straight down from the top:"
"You would think that more things came straight down from the top... We were like begging sometimes to [Marvel Studos] just tell us what. But it took a lot of us throwing out options..."
Marvel is known for churning out multiple projects per year, and the ability to juggle and connect all of the various storylines has never been more difficult now that the studio also has Disney+ series directly tying into the theatrical films.
This was something Cretton addressed, comparing the MCU's many moving parts to "a living organism" and confirming that, throughout the process, the studio vetoed a character's appearance in the mid-credits sequence due to other storylines at play:
"...I think because the MCU is such a living organism, you know, there's writers rooms happening, developing things simultaneously all the time. Everything does need to fit, and we would throw ideas up the chain for that and sometimes we'd get a maybe, and that meant 'Okay, something else is developing somewhere else.' But we're not totally sure if that character will make sense, and sometimes that maybe would hang for a bit, and then they'd say 'Oh no, we can't do that person anymore.'"
In the end, Shang-Chi's post-credits scenes featured Benedict Wong's Wong from Doctor Strange, Brie Larson's Captain Marvel, and, shockingly, Mark Ruffalo's Bruce Banner as himself instead of Professor Hulk.
Regarding why these characters were chosen, Cretton said, "We went through so many iterations of who could be in that room. We knew we wanted characters to be helping us usher Shang-Chi into the bigger universe."
The Why Behind Shang-Chi's Post-Credits Cameos
Due to how the MCU's various stories manage to connect and build upon the other, from an outsider's perspective, it would seem that its scripts are set in stone long before production begins.
However, as Cretton's comments show, that's not exactly the case. In fact, Cretton has even addressed alternate versions of Shang-Chi where a certain character's fate was different than what fans saw played out on screen.
While planning and connectivity are essential to Marvel Studios' secret sauce, the same can be said for the studio's willingness to take risks and its focus on story and character.
Marvel having allowed Cretton the space and creative license with not only Shang-Chi but also the post-credits scenes speak to this, as does Cretton's decision to choose characters that would best serve Shang-Chi's future direction.
It's also worth noting that characters Cretton and Marvel agreed upon all having upcoming projects in Marvel's Phase 4. For example, Wong is set to appear in December's Spider-Man: No Way Home and 2022's Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness.
Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings is playing in theaters and arrives on Disney+ on November 12, 2021.