Between the promise of the Eternals and the rumors of all those Spidey-people, the future of the Marvel Cinematic Universe has never looked so bright. But what does its latest movie Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings reveal to us about what's coming in Phase 4?
Well, in the grand tradition of Marvel teasers, the juiciest stuff comes during the credits. This time, we get both mid-credits and post-credits scenes. You'll want to stick around for each, since they build on the main narrative and one another to set up some seemingly very important plot points — y'know, those classic "fate of the universe" type plot points. (Plus, there's one extremely cute instance of Avengers doing normal things you won't want to miss.)
That said, in case you did accidentally head for the exit early, here's what happened at the end of Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings, and what we're pretty sure it means going forward.
What is a standalone Marvel movie for if not setting up crossovers with other Marvel movies?
In Shang-Chi's mid-credits scene, we see Shang-Chi (Simu Liu) and Katy (Awkwafina) yanked out of dinner plans by Wong (Benedict Wong), who needs the dynamic duo for a mysterious, new mission. Of course, Shang and Katy met the master of mystic arts earlier when he was battling Abomination at that underground fight club. But now, back at the Sanctum Sanctorum, Wong is joined by two more Avengers: The Hulk and Captain Marvel.
Dr. Bruce Banner (Mark Ruffalo), still sporting a sling thanks to wielding the Infinity Gauntlet in Avengers: Endgame, and Carol Danvers (Brie Larson) appear via hologram to inquire about the Ten Rings. The ancestral power wielded by Wenwu (Tony Leung) and Shang, they explain, raises serious concerns for the heroes about the ancient forces in the universe they have yet to come up against. What's more, the Ten Rings, Carol says, appear to have acted as a beacon, sending an indecipherable signal to something, somewhere out in the galaxy.
This seems like a fairly obvious nod to the mystic powers of The Eternals, who we'll meet when their first film finally drops Nov. 5. But before the group can get further into the implications of Shang's ancient jewelry-turned-super powers, Carol is called away by some unexplained crisis. Soon after, Bruce leaves too, warmly telling Shang and Katy, "Welcome to the circus."
That poses some serious questions we'll want answers to right away. But with nothing to go on, Shang, Katy, and Wong spend their last moments of the movie opting for a night of karaoke. Yep, Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings ends with Wong belting "Hotel California." Amazing.
During Shang-Chi's post-credits scene, we reunite with Shang's sister Xialing (Meng'er Zhang) at her family's fortress in China. There, we see her going through her childhood things, seemingly reflecting on the dramatic battle that just took place at her mother's ancestral home. Then, Razor Fist (Florian Munteanu) walks through the door and things get really interesting.
With Wenwu dead, Xialing is positioned to finally take over her father's powerful organization — and, by the time we've caught up with her, she's well into making changes. A sweeping shot of the fortress, newly covered in graffiti, and a rhythmic EDM track back up Xialing as she positions herself on her hard-won throne. But it's the question of what she will do with this power that looms largest.
See, while Xialing and Shang may have teamed up to take down their dad, this scene gives us the sense that Xialing could continue in the franchise as a hero or as a villain. We know she's fiercely independent and self-sufficient, but is she good? We don't get much more than that to go on. However, an end slate reading "THE TEN RINGS WILL RETURN" promises answers down the line.
Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings is now in theaters.