Shang-Chi and The Legend of The Ten Rings has established itself as both a critical and popular success, carrying a strong 98% audience score and 92% positive reviews on Rotten Tomatoes and a Metascore of 71 and 7.6 user score at Metacritic. Financially, it has outperformed pandemic expectations and looks to have another good week or two in the tank. All that success combined with Kevin Feige and Destin Daniel Cretton’s comments which have indicated a sequel is essentially waiting to be given the green light mean that a follow up to Shang-Chi is an inevitability at this point. The first film was pretty well self-contained, but as is always the case found ways to connect itself to the MCU and leave some threads left to pull for potential sequels. What could we see in Shang-Chi 2? We have some thoughts…
The Capital Cities of Heaven
The pocket dimension of Ta Lo is integral to the plot of Shang-Chi and The Legend of The Ten Rings. When Shang-Chi and Xialing first arrive in Ta Lo, they get a tour of the small town along with a history lesson: in short, there are other hidden cities that, like Ta Lo, are likely pocket dimensions. As we prepare for the Sacred Timeline debuts of Matt Murdock and Wilson Fisk, it’s possible that Shang-Chi also laid the groundwork to bring Daniel Rand-K’ai, the Iron Fist, along for the ride as well.
Should Marvel Studios decide to take the leap (and make no mistake, bringing Iron Fist to the MCU will come with several big shit storms), a Shang-Chi sequel could easily make use of the pre-established idea of hidden cities to introduce the Capital Cities of Heaven and, should the want to make an absolutely incredible movie, center it around the Tournament of the Heavenly Cities. Introduced during Ed Brubaker, Matt Fraction and David Aja’s run on Immortal Iron Fist, the capital cities of heaven are all mystical cities located in pocket dimensions around the Earth, each with their own Immortal Weapon or champion. Among those cities if K’un Lun whose champion is, of course, The Immortal Iron Fist. Every 88 years, 7 of the 8 cities converge into one breathtaking setting, the Heart of Heaven, and host a tournament that pits the Immortal Weapons against one another. Bringing the tournament to the big screen would provide MCU fans with a chance to meet characters such as Fat Cobra, John Aman and Tiger’s Beautiful Daughter while giving Feige a chance to reboot Danny Rand, Dog Brother #1 and the Bride of Nine Spiders, all of whom were done dirty in the Netflix series.
It wouldn’t take much imagination to shuffle things around enough to have Ta Lo be one of the Capital Cities and have Shang-Chi be their champion. Given Cretton’s effective use of flashbacks in the first film, it would be fun to watch him explore the rich history of these cities while introducing characters that could stick around for a while and have their own stories told down the line. Given what we learned in Shang-Chi and The Legend of The Ten Rings, it’s safe to assume these cities already exist. Now it’s a matter of how badly the team at Marvel Studios wants to explore them.
The Atlas Foundation
Shang-Chi and The Legend of The Ten Rings did a wonderful job of establishing the long history of the Ten Rings organization without telling us too much about either the organization or the rings themselves. We know the organization has existed for around 1,000 years and that during that time, Wenwu was known by many names, among them the Great Khan. Logically, if one organization has existed for a thousand years, so could another: The Atlas Foundation.
The Atlas Foundation’s origins date back to the time of Genghis Khan and have ties to him as each of the Foundation’s leaders have always been descendants of him. Given Wenwu’s long life, it’s entirely possible that he fathered more than the two children we met in Shang-Chi and The Legend of the Ten Rings and that one of those children could have gone his or her own way from Wenwu and created a secret organization that has grown significantly over the last 1,000 years. This part of the sequel writes itself as, should this organization exist, both Shang-Chi and Xialing would be direct heirs of Wenwu and the rightful leaders of the Atlas Foundation. With Xialing now running the Ten Rings, it would make for some killer sibling rivalry if Shang-Chi took his place atop Atlas and used its resources to work against his sister.
Introducing the Atlas Foundation opens the door not only for another really cool dragon (Atlas has long been advised by the immortal lung dragon known as Mr. Lao) but could also pave the way for Jimmy Woo to enter the picture and open the door to an Agents of Atlas project as a direct follow-up.
Fin Fang Foom
When we found out that Shang-Chi and The Legend of The Ten Rings would feature multiple dragons, NOBODY predicted we’d get the Great Protector and the Dweller-in-Darkness. Nobody is complaining about how great they worked out but fans are still crossing their fingers that the one we all thought was coming will show up and the mid-credits scene, while intentionally ambiguous, certainly leaves open the possibility we will see Fin Fang Foom in the sequel.
As the Avengers explain to Shang-Chi, his use of the Ten Rings activated a beacon that is calling to something ancient. Given the presence of Captain Marvel in the room, it’s easy to believe that this beacon is calling to something far away across the stars, however, that is never made explicit. The opening of the film leaves the origin of the Ten Rings intentionally ambiguous, stating only that Wenwu maybe found them in a crater or in a tomb, leaving room for a sequel to explore just exactly where they came from. Given his comic ties to the rings, it would be pretty great if the answer to that question came in the shape of He Whose Limbs Shatter Mountains and Whose Back Scrapes the Sun.
Though his story has changed some over the years, Fin Fang Foom is an ancient being from the planet Kakaranthara from where his species, the shape-shifting Makulans, left to conquer other planets. FFF arrived in Ancient China prior to the 8th century and while his fellow Makulans went out to conquer, he was given a reserve role and put to sleep in a tomb. Eventually, the Mandarin ventured into the tomb and took the Ten Rings, Makulan technology that contained the souls of dead warriors, and woke the Foomster.
Again, the story writes itself and keeps its ties to the comic books while updating it to keep it fresh. Wenwu’s rings are clearly alien tech; the combination of that tech with Ta Lo’s magic could be just the catalyst to bring Foom out of his slumber and into the world where he would lay waste to it in the form of a giant dragon, giving Marvel Studios its very first Kaiju film. While Fin Fang Foom might seem like an Avengers-level threat (indeed the mid-credit scene with the Avengers leads us down that path), Shang-Chi is pretty powered up with the rings and could put up a fight against Foom and maybe even learn something new about the rings along the way.