In the Marvel Cinematic Universe, all roads eventually lead back to Tony Stark in some way, even the ones that take us where we've never been before. Even Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings, Marvel's next origin story that looks and feels about as different from Iron Man as it possibly could while still taking place on Earth, carries an important connection to the very first MCU film.
In a new featurette just released to promote the martial arts-laden film directed by Destin Daniel Cretton and starring Simu Liu in the title role, Marvel Studios head Kevin Feige plays up the film's connection to the "keystone event" that is Tony Stark becoming Iron Man. Back then, Stark was building weapons for the Ten Rings, which appeared to be a wilderness-bound terrorist group at the time, and the film didn't really play up the organization much beyond their ability to hold him hostage for a while. Now, of course we know that despite that minimal attention and the fake Ten Rings set up in Iron Man 3, that the shadowy group has been behind the scenes all along, waiting for their moment. At last, that moment is here.
The featurette below, titled "Destiny," doesn't spoil exactly why the Ten Rings and their powerful leader, the Mandarin (Tony Leung), decided to pick this moment to come forward, but it definitely has a lot to with the Mandarin's attempts to reclaim his son, Shang-Chi. It all adds up to the story of a powerful warrior asked to make a bold choice about his own future, and becoming a new MCU hero in the process. Check it out:
To further emphasize the impact of the Ten Rings and their leader on this story, Marvel also dropped a new poster for the film Friday, which you can check out in the tweet below.
As the MCU moves deeper into the post-Infinity Saga Phase 4 of its existence, it's fascinating to see how many of these new stories are reaching backwards almost as much as they're reaching forwards. With its incorporation of the Ten Rings and the Mandarin, Shang-Chi is giving us not just the rise of a new hero, but the exploration of some of the MCU's earliest loose ends. Those loose ends also extend to The Incredible Hulk, thanks to the reveal that the film will also include the return of the Abomination. Add all of that to Black Widow's exploration of the Red Room and its far-reaching explorations, and Eternals' entire premise of a group of beings who've been watching the MCU unfold for years without intervening, and you've got a key moment in the MCU that hopes to enrich the past even as it looks to the future, in ways previous films (aside from prequels like Captain Marvel) haven't.
Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings arrives in theaters September 3.