The latest Shang-Chi and the Legend of Ten Rings trailer gave us our first look at the grand return of Abomination. He is fighting what most likely is Wong during a tournament. It’s been what everyone has been talking about, but there is one more major reveal that got a bit overlooked in the trailer. We briefly get a sequence of Shang-Chi underwater getting confronted by a mysterious dragon. Now, we automatically assumed it might be Fin Fang Foom, but a Funko Pop leak offered a better glimpse. It even confirmed his name is the Great Protector. Now, the fact we get to see him interact with Shang-Chi made me wonder how he connects to the mysterious Ten Rings and the overarching story.
In the trailer, Simu Liu‘s character is submerged in water while wearing what seems to be the outfit from the final fight in the trailer. We see the entire body of the Protector with his head coming closer. The visual has a deeper meaning, as in Chinese mythology, the dragons, also known as Long or Lung, are rulers of weather and water. There is also a Chinese idiom that states people are “hoping one’s child will become a dragon.” This belief might match Teny Leung‘s words as Wenwu: “You can’t run from your past!” They might reflect his hopes of bringing his son back into the family business. The trailer seems to imply there might be a deeper connection between the dragon and his family’s history, which may tie together with the physical symbol of their legacy, the Ten Rings.
In the comics, they are literal rings one wears on their fingers that each has a unique ability. They weren’t magical creations but of alien origin, which made us think it might connect to Fin Fang Foom. He is a shape-shifting alien from Kakaranthraa or Maku IV. It’s still uncertain how the rings work, but they seem to have an energy field. Not just that, they also seem to change depending on the user, as they light up yellow when Shang-Chi is holding them. They might utilize a person’s energy and give it form, which matches the abilities showcased by Michelle Yeoh’s Jian Nan, where she is controlling nature around her. So, it may act more like an energy siphon to utilize one’s inner powers, which, if we return to Chinese mythology, is known as Qi.
So, how does it all connect? Well, the Great Protector might be the originator of the rings. They may pay tribute to the comics by them being literal rings on the dragon’s claws. They got gifted to the founding father of Shang-Chi and Wenwu’s family, who might have been part of the war teased in the trailers. The brief sequence of floating water might be another reference to that deep connection. Liu‘s character coming face-to-face with the dragon might be the passing of the torch before the final battle between him and his father commences. In Chinese mythology, four Dragon Kings represent the four seas. One of them, most notably, being the White Dragon that is the patron of Qinghai Lake. The colors would match with the Great Protector, and it might be the birthing place of the Ten Rings. It may even be the lake teased in a brief sequence in the latest trailer, but it may be an original location that is strongly inspired by the original myth.
We’ve already seen glimpses of Chinese mythology playing a key role in the film. It would make sense they would also establish the Ten Rings to have a stronger connection to the country’s mythology. Of course, it is just speculation and it may be purely the resting place of the dragon, as earlier sets did hint at the Valley of the Sleeping Dragon. They could’ve combined the comic location with a real-world inspiration. Whatever direction they may take, it is great to finally explore a new section of the Marvel Cinematic Universe and its vast mythology.