Warning - This article contains spoilers for Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings.
Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings has finally arrived in cinemas, introducing the soon-to-be Avenger to fans worldwide. With prospects of a sequel already on the cards and the film’s leading star Simu Liu already hoping for an Avengers 5 appearance, the future is already looking bright for the Master of Kung Fu.
It wouldn’t be an MCU affair without the signature post-credits sequence (That is, unless you’re Avengers: Endgame). Luckily for fans, Shang-Chi has two tantalising teases for the future of the titular character and his supporting cast.
The mid-credits scene picks up directly following the film’s closing moments, giving Shang-Chi and Katy a glimpse into the wider universe that they have stumbled into...
The Avengers Assemble
After following Wong through his portal to the library of Kamar Taj, Shang-Chi and Katy found themselves in an Avengers-filled conference call to discern the origins of the Ten Rings.
Brie Larson’s Carol Danvers returned with the same outfit she wore in Avengers: Endgame and a longer haircut, indicating that this scene takes place a fair amount of time after Thanos’ defeat.
This is notably Captain Marvel’s second on-screen using hologram technology to make intergalactic calls, which isn’t a lot, but weird that it’s happened twice. Nevertheless, it is nice to see Danvers again ahead of The Marvels, with this scene potentially teasing her next appearance (more on that later).
Mark Ruffalo’s Bruce Banner also shows up, noticeably less Hulked out in comparison to his last Endgame appearance. Despite that, his arm is still in a sling and out of commission after using Tony Stark’s Nano Gauntlet.
Given that enough time has passed for Carol’s hair to grow out, this may suggest that Bruce’s arm has been damaged for good or will take an extended amount of time to heal properly.
Banner’s transformation back from his Smart Hulk state is particularly notable, as this may carry over to his role in the She-Hulk Disney+ series. Ruffalo’s character is set to star alongside his cousin Jennifer Walters, but many questioned how the big green giant would be able to make his way over to the small screen.
The solution seems to be to shrink him back down to fit, with this mid-credits heavily indicating that Bruce will likely be his regular old self for the majority of She-Hulk’s run. This will allow the show’s CGI to be put towards Jen’s Hulk form; it may also ensure that Tim Roth’s Abomination makes a smooth transition.
What are the Ten Rings?
The group is deep in discussion on what the Ten Rings are and where they came from.
Wong has collected minds from a variety of backgrounds in order to get a range of perspectives, Bruce bringing his scientific know-how, Carol utilizing her knowledge of outer space, and the Master of the Mystic Arts using his own magical background. Despite all that, the gang is stumped.
It's established that the Rings do not appear in the Sanctum Sanctorum’s records and that they are unable to identify the energy emanating from them. Banner notes that they are not made from Vibranium, whilst questioning whether they could be Chitauri in origin. Even with all the spacefaring she’s done, the Rings don’t resemble any technology that Captain Marvel has come across.
Wenwu was in possession of the Rings for over 1000 years, but it is mentioned that the artifacts predate this by much longer. It is unknown exactly how Wenwu stumbled upon the weapons, but it is clear that he found them on Earth. The Eternals have been in hiding on Earth for 7000 years, guiding humanity’s development. Could the Ten Rings have come from them?
Perhaps Carol isn’t familiar with the Rings’ technology because it is Celestial in origin. The race of immortal beings may have left the weapons on Earth, only for humanity to swiftly use the tools for their own purposes.
The Rings also seem to be acting as a beacon, sending out a signal to an undisclosed location. Could this directly tie into Eternals, attempting to call the group out of hiding? Alternatively, they may be trying to send a message to the Celestials themselves, inadvertently bringing the Eternals out of the woodwork.
Regardless of their origin, it is clear that the impact of the Ten Rings will continue to be felt on the MCU as it keeps chugging along.
Going the Wong Way
Before anyone can hazard a guess as to where the beacon is honing in on, Captain Marvel has to jet off to take care of some of her own business after receiving a message. She tells the others that Bruce has her phone number if they need her, which Banner humorously denies.
Another swift departure from Danvers may seem like an insignificant detail, but may tie into her characterization leading into The Marvels. Monica Rambeau seemed to have somewhat of a grudge towards Captain Marvel in WandaVision, avoiding talking about her mother’s old pal despite getting along just fine in Danvers’ solo film. So what’s changed?
Danvers seems to be extremely preoccupied with the goings-on in the galaxy, which is understandable given her responsibility to watch over the stars. In spite of that, Monica may not be all too pleased that Carol doesn’t seem to have time for Earth.
Perhaps Captain Marvel wasn’t around for Maria at the time of her death, leading Monica to feel that Carol could have done more to be there for her mother. This would create an interesting dynamic going into The Marvels, allowing the MCU to explore a superhero duo that aren’t on the best of terms.
The two Avengers hang up. Wong gives the two a mini pep talk preparing them for the “long journey ahead,” a moment not too dissimilar to Nick Fury’s speech to Tony Stark in Iron Man’s post-credits stinger. The sorcerer suggests that the duo get some rest, but Shang-Chi and Katy have other ideas.
Rather than getting a good night's sleep, the trio head off to karaoke for some Avengers-level bonding. The Eagles' "Hotel California" blares as the three heroes party into the night, forever bonded by the experience.
Shang-Chi: Future Avenger?
Given that Shang-Chi and Katy are now buddy-buddy with Wong, the duo is officially part of the Avengers' wider world. The question is: where will they show up next?
An appearance in Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness would not be entirely out of the question, as indicated by Wong's connection to the Sorcerer Supreme. Perhaps Doctor Strange could permit Shang-Chi and Katy to make the Sanctum Sanctorum their temporary abode before they create a superhero base of their own.
Stephen Strange is also crossing over into the world of webslingers with his appearance in Spider-Man: No Way Home, which could open the door for Simu Liu and Awkwafina to make brief cameos as they roam the halls of the Sanctum. Liu has opened up about wanting to star alongside Tom Holland's Spider-Man, so this may be the perfect chance for the two to cross paths.
Multiverse of Madness and No Way Home both being stacked features from top to bottom would likely prevent Shang-Chi and company from having a substantial role, but it would nice to see the Master of Kung Fu interact with some other MCU heavy-hitters, if even for a brief moment.
The heads at Marvel Studios could, of course, be saving Shang-Chi's next big crossover for the inevitable Avengers 5, connecting the gargantuan team-up to another corner of the Marvel universe. Seeing Shang-Chi stand shoulder-to-shoulder with Earth's Mightiest Heroes will undoubtedly be a special moment, even if it may still be a few years out yet.
Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings is available to watch now in theaters.