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Marvel just answered one of our biggest ‘Shang-Chi’ questions

Published Aug 17th, 2021 3:58PM EDT
Marvel Shang-Chi
Image: Marvel Studios

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After the red carpet premiere of Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings, we saw the first reactions to the most mysterious MCU film of 2021. Black Widow is a prequel set between Civil War and Infinity War. No Way Home is the third installment in the MCU’s Spider-Man trilogy. Like Shang-Chi, Eternals will introduce brand new heroes, but we already know what to expect from the latter. The Eternals have been living in the MCU for millennia. We’ll soon find out what they were up to while the Avengers were saving the day. But what about Shang-Chi (Simu Liu)? What was he doing all this time? Where does he fit in the larger MCU storyline? Is this superhero even in the Sacred Timeline? Marvel just answered that question ahead of the film’s premiere. Some spoilers might follow below.

Ties to Marvel’s Cinematic Universe

From the first Shang-Chi trailers, we wondered about the film’s place in Marvel’s timeline. We then saw Wong (Benedict Wong) fighting Abomination (Tim Roth) in one of the most recent trailers. The timeline was suddenly a little clearer. Shang-Chi takes place sometime between The Incredible Hulk and after Endgame.

The brief Wong vs. Abomination reveal is the spoiler Marvel needed to share to connect Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings to the rest of the MCU. As well as the connection to the movie that started it all, Iron Man.

The Wong vs. Abomination fight also made it clear that some of the film’s plot takes place in the 15 years between Hulk and Endgame, which gave Marvel ample time to explore Shang-Chi’s history and his path towards becoming an MCU superhero. But it gets better than that.

Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings
Abomination and Wong fighting in Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings trailer. Image source: Marvel Studios

Shang-Chi in the main Marvel timeline?

In an interview with Fandango, Shang-Chi director Destin Daniel Cretton gave a better timeline placement for the film. “Shang-Chi is set in the present day in the MCU timeline,” he said about the movie. When pressed on the connections between Avengers: Endgame and Shang-Chi, Cretton confirmed that the film is set “post-Blip,” in the present day.

There have technically been two Blips so far in the MCU — one in Infinity War and one in Endgame. Thanos (Josh Brolin) killed half of all living beings in the universe the first time around, and Hulk (Mark Ruffalo) brought everyone who was blipped back with a second snap.

Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings
Scene from Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings trailer. Image source: Marvel Studios

Shang-Chi and the Ten Rings

Cretton’s revelation won’t spoil Shang-Chi, but it certainly puts things in perspective. The director said Shang-Chi is in his twenties in the film, which means he was a teenager for much of the Infinity Saga. He wouldn’t have been of much help in the past. But he might have a place in future team-ups.

The director also teased that the film will explain the Ten Rings better than Marvel has so far. He referred to both the physical rings imbued with power and the secret organization of the same name:

I mean, that’s going to be the fun of watching this movie — understanding who the Ten Rings are finally and seeing how they are. I don’t want to say too much before people watch it, but it was really fun to dig into the Ten Rings and answer a lot of questions that were posed early on, before we were ever even imagining we’d be a part of telling the MCU story. But it has been very satisfying to paint a full picture of who the Ten Rings are — and specifically who they are to the father of Shang-Chi, our Wenwu [Tony Leung] character. And I think you’ll find in this movie that the Ten Rings — there’s a lot of meaning behind the Ten Rings, both the physical Ten Rings and the organization of the Ten Rings and how they affect our two leads. That is a huge part of this movie.

Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings

hits theaters on September 3rd, with a Disney Plus release set 45 days later.

Chris Smith Senior Writer

Chris Smith has been covering consumer electronics ever since the iPhone revolutionized the industry in 2008. When he’s not writing about the most recent tech news for BGR, he brings his entertainment expertise to Marvel’s Cinematic Universe and other blockbuster franchises.

Outside of work, you’ll catch him streaming almost every new movie and TV show release as soon as it's available.