Shang-Chi is finally here and it’s packed full of references to Marvel comics, the MCU, and pop culture. How many did yo
The latest Phase 4 movie in the MCU has finally arrived and while you won’t be able to stream it on Disney+ any time soon, fans and critics alike are raving about this exciting new chapter, Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings. The movie introduces us to the titular Shang-Chi (Simu Liu) and his friend Katy (Awkwafina) as they face off against Shang-Chi’s mysterious past–or, more specifically, his dangerous father, Wenwu (Tony Leung) who has apparently been operating as an immortal villain in the MCU for hundreds upon hundreds of years.
Wenwu’s powers stem from the Ten Rings, a mystical weapon that has granted him immortality but, unfortunately, may have also driven him out of his mind–or, worse, may have made him susceptible to the manipulation of even bigger threats.
Now, perhaps you’re living in an area where you can go see Shang-Chi in theaters and you’re looking to make sure you caught everything. Or, you’re eager to get as much information as possible while you wait for its streaming arrival to watch it at home, and you don’t particularly care about spoilers. Whatever the case, that’s what we’ll be getting into here.
Here are 20 Easter Eggs, references, and Marvel comics nods to be found in Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings. Which were your favorites? Did you catch any that we missed? Let us know in the comments below.
1.) Origin of the rings
During the introductory flashback, Li explains in voiceover that no one actually knows where the ten rings came from, but goes over some possibilities–one of which being that they came from space. This is actually the case for the comics, where the ten rings came from an alien race called the Axonn-Karr.
2.) The flag
Though the Ten Rings organization in Iron Man 3 may have been fake, they got the flag mostly right.
3.) Ta Lo
Introduced in the 1980s, Ta Lo was a pocket dimension for Chinese gods in Marvel comics that was briefly visited by Thor. Since then, Ta Lo has not really been used the way that a place like Asgard has, so we’re likely to see some major changes in the future depending on where the MCU goes.
4.) The power of the rings
In the comics, the rings functioned something like their own set of Infinity Stones, each having a different power or specific ability. This isn’t the case here in the MCU. It’s actually difficult to pin down exactly what the rings do here, aside from containing some sort of energy that can be harnessed. They also appear to make the wearer immortal, which might mean that Shang-Chi himself now is immortal.
Shang-Chi’s father is an original character for the MCU, but for a very good reason. In the comics, Shang-Chi was the son of a man named Fu Manchu, an extremely racist pulp novel character created by a British author named Sax Rohmer. Marvel acquired the license for him and other Rohmer characters in the ’70s and made Shang-Chi to cash in on the kung fu craze in pop culture at the time. Since then, Marvel has slowly updated Shang-Chi’s backstory and history to remove these racist origins (they also lost the license to the Rohmer characters in the ’80s) but Wenwu is a major step-up.
6.) Kung-Fu Hustle and The Godfather
Shang-Chi’s apartment is decorated with movie posters, two of which are recognizable as Kung-Fu Hustle and The Godfather.
7.) Hotel California
The Eagles’ Hotel California gets a major name drop from Katy and then multiple punchlines to pay it off, including a hilarious karaoke scene.
8.) The Blip
One of the only moments that references the larger MCU and its problems comes in the form of a flyer on the wall of Shang-Chi’s building, advertising a support group for people experiencing anxiety because of the Blip.
9.) Do a flip!
The livestreamer on the bus who film’s Shang-Chi’s fight with the Ten Rings soldiers is also the man who asks Spidey to “do a flip” back in Spider-Man: Homecoming. Apparently he’s moved from NYC to San Francisco, but still loves superheroes.
10.) Razor Fist
The ridiculously named villain Razor Fist is, unsurprisingly, a character from Marvel comics–his first iteration was actually introduced in the Master of Kung Fu comics back in 1975.
11.) Death Dealer
The masked, mute villain Death Dealer is also a villain from Marvel Comics who got his start in Master of Kung Fu #115 in the ’80s. There he was a double agent embedded with M16 who betrayed Shang-Chi.
12.) The Golden Daggers
Xialing’s fight club is loosely based on an organization from the comics of the same name which was one of the Ten Rings’ subdivisions.
One of the weirdest cameos in the movie is Tim Roth’s Abomination, who hasn’t been seen in the MCU since the Ed Norton Hulk movie back in 2008. So much for pretending that movie never happened, huh?
14.) And Wong, of course.
Wong has a few major moments in the movie, through to the end credits scenes, but his introduction is at the Golden Daggers club fighting Abomination. It’s later revealed that the two of them have some sort of deal and they’re doing this for money, implying that Abomination might not be that horrible a guy after all.
Sir Ben Kingsley returns as Trevor, the hapless actor who wound up playing “The Mandarin” in Iron Man 3 as a smoke-and-mirrors cover up for the real terrorism of Aldrich Killian (played by Guy Pearce). Apparently since then Trevor has been captured by Wenwu and allowed to live as a sort of court jester for the Ten Rings, an arrangement that has left him with a tenuous grip on his sanity.
16.) Planet of the Apes
Of course someone like Trevor would have a big story about how and why they fell in love with acting, but this was weird even for him. Apparently as a child he believed the actors in Planet of the Apes were actually trained apes, a belief he still holds to this day. If they could train monkeys to perform like that, after all, why couldn’t he learn?
17.) The creatures of Ta Lo
Inside of Ta Lo we see a number of mythical creatures, including Huli Jing, or the Chinese version of a nine-tailed fox, guardian lions or Fu Dogs, and Longma, or horse-like dragons. Of course, there’s also the Great Protector, an actual dragon.
18.) The costume
Shang-Chi’s dragon-scale reinforced outfit is a direct reference to his uniform design in the comics.
19.) The Dweller in Darkness
The eldritch monster imprisoned in Ta Lo is the MCU’s version of the Dweller-in-Darkness, a comic book villain created in the ’70s who was actually much more humanoid (and extremely goofy looking). He was also just a normal demon who fed on fear and was a member of a villain team called the Fear Lords, because why not?
20.) Bruce, Carol, and The Rings
The post-credits scene shows Wong teaming up with Hulk and Captain Marvel to try and figure out exactly where the rings came from and noting that they apparently have some sort of beacon calling out to somewhere unknown. Not even the libraries of Kamer-Taj have answers for them, so hopefully we’ll see what’s actually going on in an upcoming MCU movie like Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, or perhaps even sooner with The Eternals.