Shang-Chi Credits Scenes Explained: What Does This Mean For The Future Of The MCU?

"Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings" is in theaters now, introducing a new superhero into the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Along with the movie comes a couple major teases for the future of the MCU in the form of two credits scenes. Of course, we have to head into spoiler territory in order to properly discuss what happens in these scenes, so if you haven't seen "Shang-Chi" yet, this is your warning to steer clear.

Spoilers ahead for the "Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings."

Shang-Chi Mid-Credits Scene Explained

The first credits scene for "Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings" comes after the initial end credits sequence. It picks up right after the final scene of the movie when Wong interrupts the dinner chat that Shang-Chi and Katy are having with their friends, and he asks the two newly minted heroes to accompany him through a portal.

The scene in question has Wong talking with Shang-Chi and Katy in what appears to be a room in Doctor Strange's Sanctum Sanctorum in New York City. They're looking at a hologram display of the Ten Rings, and Wong is trying to figure out their origin. Then we see who else is present for this examination of the Ten Rings.

Bruce Banner (Mark Ruffalo) appears by way of hologram, but he's in his human form (we'll get to that later), and he doesn't know what to make of the Ten Rings either. Next to him is Captain Marvel (Brie Larson), back with a longer haircut after showing up with her pixie hairstyle in the climax of "Avengers: Endgame." She says the Ten Rings aren't like any alien technology she's ever seen, so she doesn't have any insight to offer either. 

Shang-Chi informs everyone that his father, Wenwu (AKA The Mandarin), had been carrying the Ten Rings for roughly 1,000 years. But Banner confirms their "thermoluminescence" indicates the rings are even older than that, though he still has no idea where they came from. Wong adds that the first time Shang-Chi used the rings, they felt it in Kamar-Taj, the home and training grounds to the Masters of the Mystic Arts, previously seen in "Doctor Strange."

Then we get quite the titillating mystery. The hologram indicates that there's some kind of beacon being emitted by the Ten Rings. An intermittent hum is coming from them as some kind of message. Shang-Chi asks where the message is going, but before anyone can offer up a guess, Captain Marvel suddenly gets a call and has to rush away. Before Banner leaves, he says, "Guys, stay safe. Welcome to the circus."

Wong offers some consolation to this ominous news by telling Shang-Chi and Katy, "I know this is a lot to take in, but you're gonna have to start getting used to that. From now on, the trajectory of your lives will be like nothing you've ever experienced before, and there's no going back. You both have a long journey ahead of you. Go home, get some rest." Shang-Chi and Katy agree, until they realize there's something else they could be doing, and then we see Wong and our two new heroes enjoying a private karaoke room to the max.

We Are Made of Questions

All right, there's a lot to unpack here. First of all, where is Doctor Strange? Why is Wong spearheading this investigation into the Ten Rings? Could this be unfolding while Doctor Strange is dealing with Peter Parker's problems in "Spider-Man: No Way Home," where the fallout of Strange's magic spell has created some multiverse complications? There's a chance this also has something to do with the impending events of "Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness." Either way, Strange is obviously dealing with something more important.

Next, where the hell did Professor Hulk go? In "Avengers: Endgame," it seems like Bruce Banner was happy combining the brains and the brawn into a Hulk body that still allowed his keen intellect to shine through. But in this scene, Bruce Banner is back to his human form. Practically, this probably made the cameo cheaper to shoot, but it will also require some explanation as to when and how Banner figured out that he could turn back into the human version of himself. Maybe that's something that will get explained when he appears in the "She-Hulk" series.

Another detail to note about Bruce Banner is that he's still wearing a sling on the arm he used to wield the Iron Gauntlet and undo The Snap. When he was still in Professor Hulk form at Tony Stark's funeral at the end of "Avengers: Endgame," he was also wearing a sling. But it's clear more time has passed since The Blip brought everyone back. It looks like transforming back into human Bruce Banner didn't do anything to help his arm. That follows something director Joe Russo said not long after "Avengers: Endgame" hit theaters in 2019. He explained:

"He's lost an arm. He lost Natasha. That's not coming back. He's damaged himself. I don't know. It's interesting. That's permanent damage, the same way that it was permanent damage with Thanos. It's irreversible damage. His arm, if you noticed, is a lot skinnier. It's blackened. So, he loses a lot of strength there."

Maybe Professor Hulk had to turn back into Bruce Banner so he could more effectively figure out a way to possibly heal his arm. After all, Hulk is mostly impenetrable and it's probably not easy to operate on him surgically. This is likely the only way Banner could do any real scientific work on the damage he's sustained.

What's Up with the Ten Rings?

Finally, this scene leaves us the unanswered question of who the Ten Rings are trying to communicate with by way of an inner-beacon. This is a tricky question to answer because the Ten Rings of the Marvel Cinematic Universe appear to operate much differently from the Ten Rings that The Mandarin wielded in Marvel Comics.

In the comics, the Ten Rings fit on The Mandarin's fingers, and each of them provided a different superhuman ability, not unlike the Infinity Stones. Here's what each of the rings did (via Marvel):

Left Hand:

  • Pinky: Ice Blast. Freezes the air in its path and can lower an object's temperature to almost absolute zero.
  • Ring Finger: Mento-Intensifier. Magnifies the Mandarin's psychic energy enabling him to mentally control a person. Only effective at short range
  • Middle Finger: Electro-Blast. Emits quantities of electrical energy determined by the wearer (Mandarin). Upper limit of output is unknown.
  • Index Finger: Flame Blast. Emits infrared radiation and can cause air to incandesce by igniting its molecules. Maximum out is unknown
  • Thumb: White Light. Emits many different types of energy from the electro-magnetic spectrum. Frequently used as intense visible light and laser beams.

Right Hand:

  • Pinky: Black Light. Creates area of "absolute blackness" where all light is absorbed. It is believed that this ring accesses the "Darkforce" used by people such as Darkstar and the Shroud.
  • Ring Finger: Disintegration Beam: Destroys bonds between atoms and molecules causing an object's cohesion to fall apart. Needs 20 minutes recharge time between uses
  • Middle Finger: Vortex Beam. Causes air to swirl about in a vortex at high speed. Can levitate objects, propel wearer (Mandarin) in flight and be used as a weapon.
  • Index Finger: Impact Beam. Projects concussive force of approximately 350 lbs. of TNT. Can also cause intense sonic vibrations and create magnetic waves
  • Thumb: Matter Rearranger. Can rearrange atoms and/or molecules of substances or speed up/slow down their movements to result in various effects. Cannot actually transmute elements.

Clearly the Ten Rings as we know them don't have the same capabilities, unless Wenwu and Shang-Chi merely didn't learn how to tap into those powers.

These rings were also a product of the dragon-like race Axonn-Karr, or Makluans, from the planet Maklu-IV. Though Captain Marvel doesn't think the Ten Rings are alien in origin, she may have simply never encountered this kind of alien technology before. After all, it seems rather convenient that the Ten Rings came from a dragon-like race of beings when "Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings" prominently features a dragon as The Great Protector. Perhaps this could be a tease for the introduction of the Makluan known as Fin Fang Foom. This could also easily be Marvel's hint that the origin of the rings from Marvel Comics will not necessarily be the same in the MCU.

Let's not forget that Marvel's "Eternals" is coming to theaters soon, and the ensemble of cosmic heroes have been on Earth for over 7,000 years. Perhaps we'll learn that these artifacts have ties to those characters and we'll get some idea of who the Ten Rings could be trying to contact. Either way, there are a lot of questions left to be answered about these rings, and it'll be interesting to see how much of an impact this has on the rest of the MCU.

Shang-Chi Post-Credits Scene Explained

If the mid-credits scene wasn't enough to introduce us to an intriguing mystery in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, the post-credits scene offers an interesting development too.

The end of "Shang-Chi" finds Wenwu (The Mandarin) killed at the hands of the giant, soul-sucking beast that he ignorantly unleashed in the hidden, mystical land of Ta Lo. That leaves the Ten Rings without a leader, and Shang-Chi was led to believe that his sister Xialing (Meng'er Zhang) went back to their father's compound to completely dismantle the terrorist organization. However, this post-credits scene reveals something else is going on.

The scene begins with Xialing packing up the remnants of her childhood bedroom. While packing, Razor Fist (Florian Munteanu) enters the room and says, "They're waiting." Xialing slowly walks out of the room and says, "Let's get started. We have a lot of work to do." Suddenly, the hip-hop track "Swan Song" by Saweetie (with NIKI) kicks in as Xialing walks through the training grounds of the Ten Rings compound where a whole new team of assassins are being trained, but there's one key difference. Xialing has allowed for women to train to be part of the Ten Rings. It's clear the vibe of this new version of the Ten Rings will be a little different, with the compound now covered in graffiti and artwork reminiscent of Xialing's own style. She has taken the place of her father.

The Ten Rings Will Return

The biggest tease is a title card that arrives after this scene, saying, "The Ten Rings will return." Even though Xialing helped save the world, it's clear that she still has motivations of her own. We're not sure exactly what her plans are, but the Ten Rings are bound to stir up trouble for Shang-Chi and maybe even other characters in the MCU. It's not hard to imagine the Ten Rings being something that Captain America and the Winter Soldier have to deal with, whether that's in "Captain America 4" with Sam Wilson or a potential second season of the Marvel Studios series on Disney+. Perhaps Xialing could even give Contessa Valentina Allegra de la Fontaine (Julia Louis-Dreyfus) a run for her money.

There are endless possibilities for the return of the Ten Rings, but without any basis in Marvel Comics for this turn of events, we're left in the dark. The closest thing this resembles is something called the Five Weapons Society, but since the events of "Shang-Chi" change a lot about the characters' history in Marvel Comics, we can't really find a lot of clues for the future there. So we'll just have to be patient for the time being.