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Can Shang-Chi Tell Us What the Avengers Look Like Post-Endgame?

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  • Posted on 01st Oct, 2022 09:10 AM
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As the MCU moves further into Phase 4, what can its latest movie tell us about the current state of earth's mightiest heroes?

p>This article contains spoilers for Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings.

The Marvel Cinematic Universe has continued to move forward into Phase 4 with the release of Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings earlier this month. The film is mostly a self-contained story, focusing on the conflict between the title character and his father Wenwu, aka the Mandarin, rather than the wider narrative of the MCU — however, that doesn’t mean that the film holds no hints at all towards the MCU’s future.

In the film’s final scene, Shang-Chi (played by Simu Liu) and his friend Katy (Awkwafina) are having dinner with some friends when they’re suddenly approached by Wong (Benedict Wong), Doctor Strange’s right-hand man who has previously appeared in Avengers: Infinity War and Endgame, along with Episode 4 of What If…? — and is also set to appear in Spider-Man: No Way Home. Wong previously ran into Shang-Chi earlier in the film at his sister Xialing’s underground fight club, where he fought in a match against the Abomination. But now, he’s come to take Shang-Chi back to the Sanctum Sanctorum for much more important matters.

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While the credits roll just as Shang-Chi and Katy step through the portal to the Sanctum, the mid-credits scene picks up right where the ending of the film left off. Wong uses magic to analyze the Ten Rings that Shang-Chi inherited from Wenwu, noting that they’re sending out some kind of beacon — obviously setting up an eventual sequel that will explore the Ten Rings’ mysterious origins. However, that isn’t the most surprising thing about the scene. Wong isn’t alone in studying the Ten Rings: his fellow heroes Captain Marvel (Brie Larson) and Bruce Banner (Mark Ruffalo) both appear in hologram form to consult with him. And while neither Banner nor Danvers have any knowledge on the secrets of the Ten Rings, their presence alone has some interesting implications for the future of the MCU.

One notable thing that’s been missing from all the Phase 4 projects so far is an update on the current state of the wider superhero community. WandaVision, The Falcon and the Winter Soldier, Loki, and Shang-Chi have all been laser-focused on their protagonists and the world around them, while Black Widow takes place long before the rest chronologically and What If…? doesn’t feature the main MCU timeline at all. This isn’t a criticism of those stories — in fact, the more character-driven feel of Phase 4 has been much more of a strength than a weakness. But as a side effect, Earth’s mightiest heroes feel fractured and isolated after the fallout of Endgame, a sharp contrast to the close-knit feel they had back in Phase 3. Despite all the speculation among fans about what the next Avengers lineup will look like, it remains unclear if the Avengers even still exist in the current MCU.

But thanks to cameos from other heroes in Shang-Chi’s mid-credits scene, there’s finally some concrete evidence to help determine what the greater superhero community looks like post-Endgame. It’s clear that Wong is in close enough contact with both Dr. Banner and Captain Marvel that he can get in touch with them on short notice to help analyze potential threats. While some fans have speculated that Doctor Strange will be too busy with his Sorcerer Supreme duties to serve as a main member of the Avengers, the fact that the Sanctum Sanctorum is in direct communication with other heroes proves that the masters of the mystic arts are definitely not isolated from their fellow heroes.

More importantly, the scene proves that Captain Marvel is still working with the heroes of Earth following the events of Endgame. While the dialogue suggests that she’s still currently flying solo out in space without keeping in close contact with Earth, the fact that she answered Wong’s call at all proves that she’s happy to cooperate with her fellow heroes — her willingness to help Shang-Chi with any future threats further supports this. Moreover, Carol’s personality in her brief appearance is distinctly more upbeat and casual than her more serious demeanor in Endgame. Her demeanor is more reminiscent of her more relaxed attitude around Nick Fury back in her solo movie, showing that she’s gotten more comfortable around the other heroes in the wake of Thanos’ defeat.

As for Bruce Banner, it’s notable that he’s gone back to his human form rather than staying as the Hulk full-time. Not only that, his arm is still in a sling, indicating that he’s still recovering from using the Infinity Gauntlet during Endgame. This could be a sign that Bruce is currently inactive as the Hulk, preventing him from fighting in the field for the foreseeable future — but of course, he could also very well be fully recovered by the time a new Avengers movie rolls around. For now, fans will probably have to wait until the She-Hulk series on Disney Plus to learn what’s next for Dr. Banner.

Ultimately, while Shang-Chi does provide a brief look at the wider superhero community post-Endgame, it doesn’t offer any clear answers on what the next Avengers team will look like. It’s likely that Captain Marvel will return to Earth whenever she’s next needed there, making her a clear candidate for the new lineup. And of course, Wong’s close ties with other heroes mean that Doctor Strange joining the Avengers is well within the realm of possibility. But as for the Hulk, only time will tell when he’s back in action. And that’s not even getting into whether Spider-Man, Sam Wilson, Thor, Scarlet Witch, or Hawkeye will be finding themselves on the team.

But of course, the most obvious new candidate for Avengers membership is none other than Shang-Chi himself. Now that he’s proven himself as a hero and taken his first steps into the larger superhero community, it’d be a surprise if he doesn’t find himself inducted into the next team of Earth’s mightiest heroes — especially with the success of his first movie. It’s clear that a new Avengers film won’t be coming any time soon, but even so, the MCU has no shortage of exciting new developments on the horizon. Until though, fans can only theorize as to what the new Avengers will look like.

MORE: Shang-Chi's Producer And Director Discuss The Choices For Their Mid-Credits Scene Cameos

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