The following article contains heavy spoilers for Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings.
Shang-Chi had the arduous task of kicking off the cinematic side of Marvel’s Phase Four, that is putting aside all the Disney Plus exclusive shows and Black Widow’s flashback nature, so naturally, it had to end with an intriguing post-credits cliffhanger or teaser.
For those not yet aware, Shang-Chi packs two treats after the movie ends with none other than Wong cutting short Katy and Shaun’s night out with their friends, albeit he joining them for a little karaoke fun later. The mid-credits scene features a couple of Marvel heroes and hints at what could Shang-Chi and his Ten Rings have to do with the rest of the Avengers; while the actual post-credits teaser clearly dives into family affairs after his sister Xu Xialing is left to dismantle their father's criminal organization.
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Shang-Chi And The Avengers’ Ten Rings Research
Picking up right after Wong takes Shang-Chi and Katy through the portal, the first after-credits teaser puts the movie’s heroes in a special Zoom-style meeting with part of the Avengers, namely Captain Marvel and a Bruce Banner looking very much not like the Hulk or his professor Hulk persona. This takes place either in New York’s Sanctum Santorum or in the Tibetan Kamar-Taj, although Doctor Strange’s absence and the lack of the frosty surroundings seen in Spider-Man: No Way Home’s trailer says a lot about Shang-Chi’s place in Phase Four’s timeline.
See, the Ten Rings that Xu Wenwu a.k.a. The Mandarin found thousands of years ago, are even more mysterious because neither Captain marvel nor Wong can point to its origins or what they’re made of since there's no recollection of them by the mystic arts scholars nor Carol Danvers' space knowledge. This is no coincidence because chief among the things Shang-Chi avoids telling viewers is where the rings actually come from or where Wenwu found them, but the meaning of this is teased to carry big consequences in the MCU.
Even if Marvel has an even wider scope to pull off surprises when it's taking Shang-Chi's source material so lightly, there are currently 3 main theories that could explain the Ten Rings’ origins inside the MCU:
First -and least likely- is that the Ten Rings stick to their comic book origins as Makluan tech that Wenwu took from Fin Fang Foom’s ship, but the alien dragon’s stereotypical name almost puts that to bed, as well as the fact that they’re not even actual rings infused with different powers like in the comics.
Since the rings are believed to be thousands of years old, they would have to be linked to something or someone as old, thus prompting many fans to tie them to the Eternals. Since the Eternals owe their existence to the Celestials, maybe the Ten Rings could be another type of signal that they are using similar to the energy beacon Salma Hayek’s trailer refers to in the Eternals’ trailer.
Lastly, it must be noted that Shang-Chi’s aunt constantly refers to her nephew’s reality as a separate universe, which combined with the Dweller in Darkness could suggest that Ta-Lo and its people actually belong to a different reality. With Loki introducing Kang the Conqueror’s scientific exploits and his own multiversal life, plus an upcoming Fantastic Four reboot, don’t be surprised if the rings are calling out to Kang or even Galactus himself.
Regardless of those theories, details like Captain Marvel’s blonde hair being much longer than it was in Avengers: Endgame suggest that Shang-Chi actually takes place months after it, just like Far From Home. As for its relationship to Spider-man, the type of fallout that stems from No Way Home will probably be what defines if Shang-Chi comes before or after it, and whether Wong was headed to Macau when he leaves Doctor Strange and Peter Parker or somewhere else.
If these post-credits scenes are any indication, then the Ten Rings could be Phase Four's equivalent to the Tesseract, a mighty artifact that is only part of an even larger power or entity that might show up in a future Avengers 5 team up, especially now that Banner and Danvers have pretty much welcomed Shang-Chi and Katy to the Avengers.
The Ten Rings Organization
Definitely not as mysterious as the mid-credits scene, it would appear that this is here to reinforce Shang-Chi’s sequel potential. After all, Xialing is portrayed as an ambitious ruthless woman that sought out to build her own empire after being denied a place within the Mandarin’s Ten Rings due to being a woman, something that’s now been corrected in her modernized Ten Rings headquarters.
This should translate into Shang-Chi 2 pitting the two siblings against each other, as Shang-Chi embraces more of their mother’s teachings and Xialing leans in towards Wenwu’s thirst for power. While Shang-Chi is drastically different in Marvel Comics, that Shang-Chi does have several sisters and half-sisters such as Sister Hammer, who often worked for their father’s Five Weapons Society.
That is certainly the most obvious conclusion, however, Xialing’s notoriety in Macau could have probably made her cross paths at some point with the Power Broker a.k.a. Sharon Carter. Seeing as Carter's formal pardon and prime access to government intel makes her more dangerous than ever and that these two women have a lot in common, it’s not that hard to imagine the Ten Rings’ operations showing up in Madripoor, either in Shang-Chi 2, Captain America 4, or maybe even a future season of Captain America and the Winter Soldier.