Marvel Studios took a golden opportunity to continue the promotional tour for Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings by debuting the second full trailer during the NBA's Western Conference Finals.
This trailer was filled with new footage featuring the titular hero alongside his family and friends, showcasing astonishing powers never seen before in the MCU. Multiple intense battles were teased with the mystical Ten Rings taking most of the spotlight, setting the stage for some epic physical confrontations in Phase 4's second theatrical release.
While this movie focuses mostly on the future with a new and powerful hero, the two minutes of footage ended with a pair of MCU veterans returning. This came in the form of a brief fight scene between Benedict Wong's Wong from Doctor Strange and Tim Roth's Abomination from The Incredible Hulk.
Looking at what's coming ahead further in Phase 4, the Abomination's appearance could spell out some interesting plot points in the next couple of years.
SHANG-CHI LEADING INTO SHE-HULK?
The second full trailer for Marvel Studios' Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings featured The Incredible Hulk's Abomination in the footage's final seconds. It is unclear whether Tim Roth, the actor who plays the human side of the beast, will show face in September's MCU installment.
Regardless, Roth is confirmed to appear in 2022's She-Hulk on Disney+ as the human Emil Blonsky, leading some to believe that Abomination's inclusion in this movie will lead directly into his first Disney+ outing.
WHAT HAS BECOME OF EMIL BLONSKY?
Fans were already happily surprised to learn that Emil Blonsky was confirmed to return to the MCU in 2022's She-Hulk, which would be his first appearance since 2008's The Incredible Hulk. With a third confirmed appearance now coming in Shang-Chi, a big question remains: what has happened to the Abomination over the last 13 years of real time?
The villain was last seen at the end of the MCU's second outing, seemingly being taken into custody by Thaddeus "Thunderbolt" Ross after the Hulk choked him into submission. From there, he was locked up in an undisclosed location seemingly for good; that is, if Agents of SHIELD's reference to him being a cryocell in Barrow, Alaska is truly not canon.
Additionally, Marvel released one of its old One-Shots from Phase 1 on the Blu-ray for Thor, which featured Phil Coulson and Jasper Sitwell discussing General Ross keeping Abomination locked up. This remained the case seemingly after Tony Stark met him in the bar at the end of The Incredible Hulk, making Coulson's plan succeed by annoying the General into keeping the incarcerated status for the villain.
With the fall of SHIELD in Captain America: The Winter Soldier, the Snap from Avengers: Infinity War, and the Blip from Avengers: Endgame, multiple doors were certainly available for Blonsky to make his escape. Now that he's seemingly a free man (monster?) with an expected axe to grind, the mystery now lies with how he ended up participating in cage fights like the one in this trailer.
He's clearly evolved physically, with his new fins and jagged back additions, and he could very well be trying to test out his new abilities against the best fighters in the world. This could also tie in with rumors that this film will be set between Infinity War and Endgame, meaning he survived Thanos' snap and now has free rein over Earth's remaining fighters.
After these events in the MCU's September release, what could lead him to return alongside Tatiana Maslany's Jennifer Walters and Mark Ruffalo's Bruce Banner?
BLONKSY OUT FOR BLOOD AGAIN?
During his time away from MCU action over Phases 2 and 3, Blonsky could have been experimenting on himself (Banner-style) to make himself virtually unstoppable. This appearance in Shang-Chi's tournament could very well be something he uses to hone his skills before going after his true goal of defeating the Hulk for good.
It seems likely that he will be fully in control of the Abomination, although it's unlikely that he will be able to change back into human form until further notice.
Could he catch wind of Banner's compromised state and Walters' newfound Hulk status? Could this lead him on a vicious mission for revenge that leaves a slew of death and destruction in his wake?
She-Hulk is almost guaranteed to show Jennifer Walters' origin story as she turns into her own version of the enormous green rage monster, and it's a virtual certainty that the series will take place after Shang-Chi chronologically. With Abomination coming into play in both projects, the martial arts movie could very well lay out some teases for what's coming next in the 2022 Disney+ show.
However this behemoth of a villain plays into both entries, Marvel Studios found a way to help the hype for both projects skyrocket exponentially. With a whole new world of action and drama coming in Simu Liu's first solo MCU movie, tying it back to the franchise's earliest days can only mean something special for longtime fans.
Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings will debut in theaters on September 3, 2021. She-Hulk is set to premiere on Disney+ sometime in 2022.