How the Shang-Chi end-credits scenes set up the Marvel Cinematic Universe's next steps
Warning: This article contains major spoilers for Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings.
Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings may be a largely standalone story, but its ending has major implications for the future of the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
Marvel's latest film — the first theatrical-only release of the MCU's phase 4 — is in many ways a family drama, following Shang-Chi (Simu Liu) as he confronts his estranged father, Wenwu (Tony Leung), and obtains the powerful weapons known as the Ten Rings. By the end of the film, however, Shang-Chi finds himself drawn into the larger MCU, and he soon comes face to face with a few well-known heroes.
Here, we break down both of Shang-Chi's end-credits scenes — and what they can tell us about where the MCU might go next.
End-credits scene No. 1: Familiar faces
First up: Shang-Chi, meet the Avengers! The film ends with everyone's favorite sorcerer-turned-part-time-cage-fighter, Wong (Benedict Wong), arriving in San Francisco to meet up with Shang-Chi and Katy (Awkwafina). In the first scene, dropping about midway through the credits, we see Wong launching a holographic Zoom and introducing the pair to two Avengers: Captain Marvel (Brie Larson) and Bruce Banner (Mark Ruffalo). Together, they inspect the Ten Rings and discover that not only are they very old — far older than even Wenwu had realized — but they're also sending out a mysterious beacon.
It remains to be seen exactly what the rings' history may be, but the emphasis on their age seems like a pointed nod to Marvel's next film: Eternals. Directed by Oscar winner Chloé Zhao, Eternals stretches across human history, beginning 7,000 years ago when the godlike alien Celestials created the Eternals and sent them to Earth to watch over humanity. We'll have to wait and see what the rings' connection may be when Eternals hits theaters Nov. 5.
There are a few other things to note here. One fun detail is the appearance of Larson as Carol Danvers, making this a reunion between the actress and Shang-Chi director Daniel Destin Cretton. One of Larson's breakout dramatic roles was in Cretton's 2013 film Short Term 12, and the pair have gone on to collaborate on 2017's The Glass Castle and 2019's Just Mercy. (Interestingly, Carol seems to have grown out her hair, which suggests that some time has passed since Avengers: Endgame.)
Also interesting is the appearance of Ruffalo — as Bruce Banner! Last time we saw the good professor in Endgame, he was in bespectacled Professor Hulk mode, finding a balance between the human scientist and the giant green rage monster. Here he's back in human form, with his arm in a sling (a casualty of the snap that brought everyone back in Endgame).
End-credits scene No. 2: A familial power grab
The second credits scene comes at the very end, taking us back to Wenwu's now-abandoned hideout. We see Shang-Chi's sister, Xialing (Meng'er Zhang), packing up her childhood bedroom, before she's joined by her friend Jon Jon (Ronny Chieng). From there we see Xialing surveying her new home base, seemingly rebuilding the Ten Rings organization from the ashes of her father's legacy. (And unlike her father, she's more than happy to welcome young women into the ranks and allow them to train.)
Throughout the film, Xialing proves that she's more than capable of running her own empire — from ignoring her father's wishes and becoming an accomplished fighter of her own to launching her own highly successful underground fight ring. It's clear she can do anything she sets her mind to; we'll have to wait and see whether she adapts the Ten Rings into something more heroic or follows in her father's criminal footsteps.