Shang-Chi was one of the first superheroes that Marvel wanted to develop a film on in the mid-2000s, but circumstances didn’t work out like that. It was only in 2020 that Marvel Studios got the opportunity to give that project a shape. Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings gave Marvel its first opportunity to explore the rich Asian culture, a new genre as it is. But it should not take this for granted. A first movie is fine, but this should not let Marvel take its portrayal of superheroes for granted. It is diversifying its cinematic universe, but it should ensure that it doesn’t make the portrayal repetitive and thus mediocre. More R&D will enable it to give its genre exploration freshness.
But with Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings, Marvel did prove that it has reached a position where it is not afraid to explore new directions. Here’s an overview of the movie.
The Nice Guy Theory
Marvel’s Nice-Guy theory repeats itself in Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings. Shaun, AKA Shang-Chi, works as a valet in California, and so does his best friend Katy (Awkwafina). Shaun is a very nice guy, just like many others before him, like Peter Parker, Steve Rogers, to name a few. Good behavior, a nice attitude, and the inborn quality to help others are what are common to all of them.
As fate would have it, the past always turns up. And it did for Shaun too. A cryptic message from his sister takes him back to where it all started, in this case, to his family in China. Flashbacks show how strong his bond was with his family, i.e., his father, Wenwu, and sister, Xialing, and how it started to crumble. And then finally, one day, teenage Shaun left to live a better life. He came to San Francisco.
Shaun comes home, and his father tells him how he can hear his wife, Shaun’s mother, calling to him. But the people of village Ta Lo, who put her in prison for falling in love with him, will not let him rescue her. She remains locked behind Ta Lo’s Dark Gate. Or so he thinks. And he wants the help of his children to set her free. Wenwu will burn down the village if he needs to. This is something Shaun is against.
Along with Xialing, and Katy, with a little help from Trevor Slattery (Iron-Man 3) and sweet Morris, Shaun arrives at Ta Lo. Upon arriving, he finds out that it’s not his mother but the soul eaters who are luring his father. Only his Ten Rings can break them free from behind the Dark Gate. Shang-Chi, Xialing, and Katy train for his father’s arrival to stop him from breaching the Dark Gate.
The Legend of The Ten Rings & History of Soul Eaters
Shaun’s aunt, Nan, tells them about the history of Ta Lo, an advanced race from a different universe with rich culture and history. She narrated the tale of Dweller-in-Darkness, a monster who, along with his army of soul-eaters, attacked them and destroyed their cities. Before they could reach our universe, the greatest warriors, with help from the Great Protector, a mythical white dragon, defeated the Dweller-in-Darkness and locked him and his army behind the Dark Gate. To this day, the people of Ta Lo guard that Gate. They are empowered by the magic of the Great Protector and her gift of dragon scales. Dragon scales make for great armor and are the only things that can kill the soul-eaters.
The Dweller-in-Darkness has lured men for centuries, promising them their greatest desires. This same voice is calling out to Wen-wu in the form of the love of his life. Nan gives Shaun and Xialing the suits that their mother left for them. She knew they would arrive one day.
The Tragedy of Mother’s Death
Moments later, Shaun reveals his mother’s death to Katy. And Wenwu’s past took its toll on her. One evening, while she was training young Shaun and Xialing, people of the Iron Gang arrive at their home looking for vengeance. Wenwu was away, and thus Ying Li fought them all. She died protecting her children. Wenwu came back home only to find a crying Shaun and Xialing by their mother’s body. Wenwu took Shaun on his spree to kill all the members of the Iron Gang. But rage and regret are slow to penetrate.
Wenwu arrives, and a battle follows between his army and the people of Ta Lo. Seeing his son, Shang-Chi, stand alongside his enemies, he even blames him for his mother’s death. He eventually succeeds in opening the Dark Gates after drowning Shang-Chi in the lake where the Gate lies. But he afterward realizes the wrong he has done. He sets free the Dweller-In-Darkness from what seems to be a Dark dimension, quite like the one we saw in Doctor Strange. Wenwu ultimately sacrifices himself to save his son from the Dweller-In-Darkness; And in his sacrifice passes over the Ten Rings to Shang-Chi.
Shang-Chi Gets The Ten Rings
Shang-Chi’s inner strength and faith summons the Great Protector. And, with her aid, he battles the Dweller-In-Darkness. With the Ten Rings, he ultimately defeats the dark monster, thus bringing peace to the people of Ta Lo and saving the world as we know it.
Shang-Chi & The Legend of The Ten Rings Ending Explained
The ending, i.e., the post-credits scene of Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings, shows Shaun and Katy talking to Wong. Bruce Banner and Captain Marvel are also present. They are all talking about a signal that the Rings are emitting. Now that Eternals is out, we can say that it was Phastos who had created the Rings thousands of years ago. And the signal would be their call sign. This seems to echo Thor’s words from The Avengers (2012). During the heated debate scene on the helicarrier, Thor says, “Your work with the Tesseract…is a signal to all the realms that the Earth is ready for a higher form of war.” The signal may have alerted the Eternals about a danger of cosmic proportions coming to Earth. This is supported by the fact that both the Rings and the Eternals have a count of ten.
As for the comics, the Ten Rings are made from the alien technology of the Makluans. The Makluans are shape-shifters that resemble dragons. Each of the ten rings carries, in an ethereal state, the soul of a dead cosmic warrior. All the Rings needed were for a worthy warrior to wear them, and the signal would begin to emit.
Be that as it may, for now, there are only questions, rumors, and theories. Hopefully, Shang-Chi 2 will have more answers. The movie is all but official, and we will probably have the film at the end of 2023 or in 2024. The fact that Wong (and surely Doctor Strange) felt its use, by Shaun, in Kamar-Taj, might mean that we may see Shang-Chi in Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness before returning in his second solo film.
Shang-Chi and The Legend of The Ten Rings is a 2021 Action Adventure film directed by Destin Daniel Cretton.