SPOILER WARNING: The following article contains major spoilers for Shang-Chi And The Legend Of The Ten Rings. If you have not yet seen the film, read on at your own risk!
After 13 years and 24 movies, Marvel Studios releases carry a great weight when it comes to anticipation for big endings. The way the blockbusters conclude have not only created an expectation for spectacle, but also for details that will pave the way for the future of the franchise. In this respect, Shang-Chi And The Legend Of The Ten Rings doesn’t disappoint. The third act is built on fantastical and epic action, and viewers are introduced to a whole new world with great potential for further exploration.
So, what happens at the end of Shang-Chi And The Legend Of The Ten Rings, and what does it mean for the future? That’s what we aim to explore in this feature, starting with a brief recap about how the Marvel blockbuster unfurls its final scenes…
What Happens At The End Of Shang-Chi And The Legend Of The Ten Rings
While one could consider the entire third act battle in the village of Ta-Lo to be a part of Shang-Chi And The Legend Of The Ten Rings’ ending, for the sake of brevity in the recap I’ll instead begin with one of the principal moments in the fight: the death of Wenwu (Tony Leung).
The villain spends a large percentage of the movie convinced that his wife, Jiang Li (Fala Chen), is being kept as a prisoner behind a gate in Ta-Lo, but by the time he comes to terms with the fact that he has been manipulated it’s too late. Despite the best efforts of Shang-Chi (Simu Liu) to stop him, Wenwu successfully destroys the barrier meant to keep the fabled Dweller In Darkness imprisoned, and it allows the horrific, soul-eating monster to escape. One of the first things it does with its freedom is to attack the person who let it out, devouring the thousand-year-old’s spirit, but this doesn’t happen before the man transfers ownership of his powerful Ten Rings to his son.
Thankfully, Shang-Chi has already awakened the Great Protector – the dragon who defeated the Dweller in Darkness centuries earlier – and Xialing (Meng'er Zhang) flies in on its back to try and take down the colossal evil. The blockbuster’s eponymous hero closes the gate with a swing of the Rings before jumping on the back of his epic ally, and for a moment it looks as though it is going to be an easy effort, as the mythic guardian grapples its opponent in magical flows of water. The darkness is able to fight back when its Soul Eaters feed it with the remnants of Ta-Lo warriors, however, and not only does it gain the upper hand, but it begins to try and imbibe the life force of the Great Protector.
Down on the ground, Katy (Awkwafina) recognizes that the only way to stop the Dweller In Darkness is by shooting at its red, glowing throat, but she sees that Master Guang Bo (Wah Yuen) has been killed. She is the only archer left who can save the day.
In the middle of the skirmish, Xialing begins to get pulled off of the Great Protector, and while her brother tries to hold her back, she insists that he let her go. Having already left her behind once in his life, Shang-Chi refuses this request and instead holds on tighter – and the effort is rewarded when a well-aimed arrow shot by Katy hits the Dweller In Darkness right in the throat. As it screams in pain, the dragon is once again able to get the upper hand, and when it is prone Shang-Chi uses the Ten Rings to destroy it for good.
With Ta-Lo once again protected from both outside forces and the monster that once threatened the whole world, a lantern ceremony is held at night to celebrate the lives of those lost in the fight – with Shang-Chi and Xialing remembering the goodness that their father had in him.
Back on Earth and in San Francisco, Shang-Chi and Katy get back together with Soo (Stephanie Hsu) and John (Kunal Dudheker) at a bar to recount their entire adventure – though Soo is convinced that they are merely mocking her for her previous comments regarding their lack of maturity. Given that it’s a seriously far-out story, one can understand her incredulity… but that’s when all the evidence necessary to support the claims magically arrives. Wong (Benedict Wong) arrives via a portal created in the middle of the establishment, and he calls for Shang-Chi and Katy to come with him in order to have an important conversation about the future.
The article that I’ve written about the end credits sequences in Shang-Chi And The Legend Of The Ten Rings will cover what plays out in the final two coda scenes in the movie, but for the purposes of this feature, let’s dig into what the film taught us about the existence of Ta-Lo and examine what it could mean for the future of the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
What Is Ta-Lo?
Similar to how Ryan Coogler’s Black Panther brought us into Wakanda, how Scott Derrickson’s Doctor Strange introduced K'un-Lun, and how Peyton Reed’s Ant-Man movies have delved into the Quantum Realm, Shang-Chi And The Legend Of The Ten Rings has its own special little pocket world for fans to discover – also adapted from the world of Marvel Comics – and it’s pretty damn cool. As described and shown in the new blockbuster, Ta-Lo exists in a dimension parallel to our own, and it is nearly impossible to get there without either permission or knowing incredibly important details.
Based on what Shang-Chi and Xialing learn from their aunt, Jiang Nan (Michelle Yeoh), Ta-Lo is actually far bigger than just the tiny village that we get to see in the film and has cities that are far larger than any that can be found on Earth. Unfortunately, there is also a tragic history that involves the Dweller In Darkness decimating the population before the Great Protector could be summoned to push the Soul Eaters behind the Dark Gate. In the many years since then, they have successfully managed to prepare for the evil’s return, with dragon scales from their mystic defender used to build all varieties of weapons, armor, and shields that can defend against the otherworldly enemies.
In addition to its human-like population, who Wenwu says practice the martial arts of the gods, Ta-Lo is also a world that has its own special fauna. Creatures of Chinese legend cohabitate with the people of the special pocket universe, including gorgeous flaming birds, massive cat-like beasts, and even fuzzy winged creatures that don’t have faces.
As members of the audience, we only get to relatively briefly explore Ta-Lo in the third act of Shang-Chi And The Legend Of The Ten Rings, and based on what is said we don’t actually get to see a large percentage of it. That being said, it feels like it is impossible that we won’t be getting to see more of it in the years ahead as sequels are produced, which brings us to our next question…
Could We See More Of Ta-Lo In The Future Of The Marvel Cinematic Universe?
One of the great assets of the Marvel Cinematic Universe is the fact that it exists as a kind of ever-expanding playground for all of the filmmakers and storytellers who play in it – with each new title adding new arenas to explore and get creative in, and then leaving the door open narratively for any and all elements to eventually return. Ta-Lo is a perfect example of this. As much as Shang-Chi And The Legend Of The Ten Rings is an origin story for its lead character, it is also a foundation-setter for the beautiful pocket dimension, and it seems unlikely that we won’t get to see more from it in the near future.
For starters, it’s hard to ignore that Jiang Nan talks about the reaches of Ta-Lo expanding far beyond the border village we see in the movie. It makes sense that the action in the film remains fixed there, as there isn’t really a need story-wise to expand beyond it – but the history that is established inherently feels like a tee up for more to come. And why not? Following its introduction, the unique universe is one that Marvel fans are going to want to see explored with greater depth, particularly if it means seeing more gorgeous, wuxia-inspired fight sequences and beautifully designed and culturally significant fantastical creatures brought to life on the big screen.
There is little question in the potential that exists storytelling-wise to see more of Ta-Lo in the franchise, but what remains up in the air is exactly when that might happen. Marvel Studios has only gone so far in announcing their Phase 4 slate, both in terms of theatrical releases and streaming shows, and as of right now nothing has been announced in regards to a Shang-Chi 2 – which would be the most logical project in which to bring the world back.
One can’t discount the idea that Ta-Lo could possibly be featured in Sam Raimi’s upcoming Doctor Strange And The Multiverse Of Madness, as that film is expected to do all manners of universe and reality hopping, but that is purely speculation.
We’ll just have to wait and see what comes next for Shang-Chi, Katy, and the people of Ta-Lo in the future, as audiences will hotly anticipate announcements from Marvel Studios about more upcoming projects – either for the big screen or as originals on Disney+. To learn about everything that is coming up from the MCU, be sure to check out our Upcoming Marvel Movies guide, and our Upcoming Marvel TV shows guide.
NJ native who calls LA home; lives in a Dreamatorium. A decade-plus CinemaBlend veteran; endlessly enthusiastic about the career he’s dreamt of since seventh grade.
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