Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings might be largely separate to the wider MCU universe, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t connections to past movies and future Phase 4 projects.
The new movie introduces Shang-Chi (Simu Liu) into the MCU and while it is based on a Marvel Comics character, you’ll find very few similarities between the character on the page and the screen. Considering the character’s father in the comics was literally Fu Manchu, that’s not a bad thing.
It means that in terms of Easter eggs from the comics, there are relatively few to find in Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings. However, there are plenty of extra details for Marvel fans to savor on a first watch – or an inevitable rewatch.
So we’ve rounded up the best Easter eggs and MCU references to be found in the new Marvel movie.
1. Ten Rings
Let’s start with the obvious one as the Ten Rings have been around in the MCU since the very first movie, Iron Man. They were the organization who kidnapped Tony Stark and remained background figures in the trilogy.
Their biggest role supposedly came in Iron Man 3 when the Mandarin apparently made his debut, but we know that Trevor Slattery isn’t the Mandarin and the Ten Rings weren’t even involved as it was all the work of Aldrich Killian.
The Ten Rings are very much a part of Shang-Chi, although their leader Wenwu (Tony Leung Chiu-wai) isn’t exactly the Mandarin from the comics. He even jokes about how Killian used the name of a chicken dish for his fake terrorist as the villain “appropriated” the Ten Rings for his own gain.
This isn’t the last we’ll see of the Ten Rings in the MCU either as in the post-credits scene, Shang-Chi’s sister Xialing (Meng’er Zhang) takes over the organisation. The group is solely an MCU creation though, so we can’t look to the comics to speculate what comes next.
2. “Half the population can just disappear”
After Black Widow took place largely in the MCU’s past, Shang-Chi jumps to the ‘present-day’ MCU which is around 2024. A character makes a reference to Day of the Dead having just happened, which suggests November.
The timeline also means that the Snap and the Blip are still in peoples’ minds, obviously. There are posters for Blip helplines and one of Shang-Chi and Katy’s (Awkwafina) friends says they’re now living in a world where “half the population can just disappear”.
Spider-Man: Far From Home took place eight months after Avengers: Endgame, with WandaVision and The Falcon and the Winter Soldier both taking place before Far From Home. If we assume it’s November 2024, Shang-Chi takes place after Far From Home and before Spider-Man: No Way Home.
During the movie, we see Wong (Benedict Wong) – more on him in a bit – and the No Way Home trailer showed Wong going on holiday somewhere. Perhaps they take place concurrently on the MCU timeline.
3. Zach Cherry
If the guy on the bus vlogging Shang-Chi’s first fight with Razor Fist (Florian Munteanu) seemed familiar, that’s because you’ve seen him in the MCU before.
Zach Cherry made a memorable cameo in Spider-Man: Homecoming as a street vendor who spoke to Spider-Man and asked him to “do a flip”. We don’t know for sure that Cherry’s Shang-Chi character is the same one, but we like to think he is.
4. Golden Daggers club
When Shang-Chi reunites with his sister in Macau, she’s running the Golden Daggers club which is essentially a fight club with some superpowered opponents and some who are just really good at fighting.
The name is a nod to the Golden Daggers sect in the Marvel comics which used the Oriental Expeditors as a front for their criminal activities. The leader of the Oriental Expeditors was Zheng Bao Yu, Shang-Chi’s half-sister.
Xialing is an amalgamation of characters from the comics, but Zheng Bao Yu is the closest link to the comics. And like Zheng Bao Yu, Xialing has also taken over her own criminal organization, the Ten Rings, by the end of the movie.
One of the surprises of Shang-Chi‘s marketing campaign was Abomination’s appearance in the second trailer, battling Wong in a cage fight.
It marks the character’s first proper appearance in the MCU since The Incredible Hulk and the last we knew, he was in captivity in a cryo-cell in Alaska. Clearly, some things have changed in the years since, but not all the mysteries are solved in the movie.
We see Wong defeat Abomination thanks to a neat portal trick and in a brief moment backstage, it looks like the two were working together to create a fight worth watching, rather than it being an actual fight. Abomination then goes with Wong through a portal, presumably to the Sanctum, but is he a good guy or is that just where he’s held now?
It’s not clear if Tim Roth is playing Abomination in Shang-Chi as he’s not mentioned in the final credits. We do know that Roth is back in the She-Hulk TV series, so expect answers in that show.
Wenwu meets his wife Jiang Li (Fala Chen) in a mystical village called Ta-Lo at the start of the movie. He initially goes there for more power and villainous things, but falls in love instead.
Ta-Lo has a connection to a village of the same name in the comics, a small pocket dimension adjacent to Earth and the home place of extradimensional race the Xian. As with most references in Shang-Chi, the MCU version doesn’t bear much relation to its comics counterpart.
There’s even a hint of K’un-Lun, a mystical city that’s also located in a pocket dimension, in that the MCU’s Ta-Lo can only be accessed at a specific time. As we saw in the Netflix show though, K’un-Lun was protected by Iron Fist and Shang-Chi doesn’t feature him at all (thankfully).
So it’s likely an amalgamation of the comics elements like with other characters in the movie, while Ta-Lo’s resident dragon, The Great Protector, is entirely an MCU creation.
7. Trevor Slattery
As Marvel weirdly revealed ahead of Shang-Chi‘s release, the movie brings back Trevor Slattery (Sir Ben Kingsley) and he ends up playing a bigger role than expected.
It marks his first appearance in the MCU since his controversial Iron Man 3 role and links directly to One-Shot, All Hail the King. That saw him taken to the ‘real’ Mandarin, but fortunately for Trevor, his acting skills saved him.
For more about Trevor’s return, we’ve got you covered here.
8. Dark Gate
During Shang-Chi‘s epic final battle, he finds himself up against something known only as the “dweller in darkness” or, in his own words, a “mega soul sucker”.
It’s what was drawing Wenwu to Ta-Lo with the voice of his dead wife, persuading him to break the Dark Gate to free him. While some thought Fin Fang Foom would play a role in Shang-Chi, this villain is not the shape-shifting alien from the comics and this “dweller” is solely an MCU creation.
Intentional or not, there is a Dark Gate in the extended Marvel universe as it’s in anime TV series Marvel Disk Wars: The Avengers.
In that show, Loki wanted to use the Dark Gate device to bring Dormammu to Earth, so it’s essentially the same. It could just be a nod to that show or totally unconnected, but the result is the same: bringing a baddie to Earth and causing trouble.
9. Bruce and Carol
We’ve gone into more detail about the credits scenes here, but it’s still worth mentioning Bruce Banner (Mark Ruffalo) and Carol Danvers (Brie Larson).
The duo pop up in the mid-credits scene as they help Wong investigate the Ten Rings that Shang-Chi now owns after his father’s death. As well as the mystery of who the rings are contacting, there’s also the mystery about why Bruce is now in human form.
We assumed that the Avengers: Endgame transformation to Smart Hulk was permanent, but apparently not. It’s the first time we’ve seen Bruce as Bruce since Avengers: Infinity War and we’re sure the She-Hulk TV show will explain all.
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