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Spoilers! How those 'Shang-Chi' end-credits scenes catapult the new superhero into the Marvel universe

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(Spoiler alert! The following post discusses the ending of “Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings” so beware if you haven’t seen it yet.)

Shang-Chi just rode a dragon, met his extended family in an otherworldly village, inherited 10 magical rings from his antagonistic father, defeated a soul-sucking monster and saved the world. But instead of going to Disney World, Simu Liu’s new martial arts superhero is meeting Avengers and diving headfirst into the larger Marvel Cinematic Universe.

Directed by Destin Daniel Cretton, “Shang-Chi” (in theaters now) debuts its title character, a former child assassin trained by his dad Wenwu (Tony Leung) before the youngster escaped as a teen to America. Now an adult seeking his identity, Shang-Chi and his best friend Katy (Awkwafina) are introduced to the mystical world of Ta Lo, the homeland of Shang-Chi’s mom Li (Fala Chen).

Review: Simu Liu's a refreshing kick to the face in 'Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings'

Xialing (Meng’er Zhang), Shang-Chi (Simu Liu) and Katy (Awkwafina)  prepare to take on the Ten Rings army in mystical Ta Lo in "Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings."
Xialing (Meng’er Zhang), Shang-Chi (Simu Liu) and Katy (Awkwafina) prepare to take on the Ten Rings army in mystical Ta Lo in "Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings."

Still wracked by the loss of his beloved wife, Wenwu thinks he hears her pleading for him (though it’s just the call of a manipulative creature of pure darkness) and plans an invasion of Ta Lo with his shadowy Ten Rings army. Meanwhile Shang-Chi, his sister Xialing (Meng’er Zhang), Katy and new ally Trevor Slattery (Ben Kingsley) – who Marvel audiences last saw in "Iron Man 3" – race the bad guys there. After Wenwu’s death and the defeat of the inter-dimensional monster, Doctor Strange’s sorcerer colleague Wong (Benedict Wong) takes Shang-Chi and Katy – courtesy of a magical teleportation circle – toward the next step of their journey as the credits begin to roll.

But as we all know, a Marvel movie doesn’t just end with the credits. Cretton tells USA TODAY about the two stinger scenes that set up where Shang-Chi’s adventure might go next and the setup for a potential sequel:

After saving the world, best friends Katy (Awkwafina) and Shang-Chi (Simu Liu) take their next step into the larger Marvel universe.
After saving the world, best friends Katy (Awkwafina) and Shang-Chi (Simu Liu) take their next step into the larger Marvel universe.

Shang-Chi gets face time with a couple of Avengers

The first end-credits scene returns to where we just left off, as Wong takes Shang-Chi and Katy into his sanctum where some folks want to have a word via hologram: Bruce Banner (Mark Ruffalo), still wearing an arm sling following his injuries from “Avengers: Endgame,” and Captain Marvel (Brie Larson). Both heroes wonder about the origins of and power contained within the 10 rings now in Shang-Chi’s possession – a story to be continued, it seems. After they leave, Wong deadpans, “Welcome to the circus. The trajectory of your lives changes from now on.” But first, the trio goes out for drunken karaoke, setting do-gooding aside for a night on the town.

Since Wong is the only other Asian superhero currently in the MCU, “there was something really just culturally special about having him welcome them” into a grander landscape, Cretton says.

As for the two A-list guest stars, Larson actually filmed the scene on set, “which was really special because I haven't worked with her in a bit,” says Cretton, who previously collaborated with the actress in 2013’s “Short Term 12.” But Ruffalo’s performance was done remotely and added later. “It's kinda crazy working on a movie of this size, particularly in a pandemic,” Cretton says. “You start to get used to directing through Zoom and live monitors with actors around the world, which is a new experience.”

More: Every Marvel superhero movie, definitively ranked (including new martial-arts epic 'Shang-Chi')

Xialing (Meng'er Zhang) takes over his dad's private army – and sets up an intriguing sequel – at the end of "Shang-Chi."
Xialing (Meng'er Zhang) takes over his dad's private army – and sets up an intriguing sequel – at the end of "Shang-Chi."

Meet the Ten Rings’ new boss: Xialing

Once the credits end, the scene shifts to Ten Rings mountain headquarters where things have changed since Wenwu ran the place: Artistic graffiti adorns the walls, boys and girls train together (a no-no back in Wenwu’s day) and Xialing takes the reins of the organization. “Let’s get started. We have a lot of work to do,” she tells her new army, as text comes on screen with a hint to a sequel but also seemingly a warning: “The Ten Rings Will Return.”

Xialing “is a character that's really special to me,” Cretton says. “There's a reason why she is pushed to the side, not only by her dad: The movie doesn't shine as much light on her as we wanted to but that's partially because we're saving it. To end the movie in a way where seeing the fulfillment of the quote she tells Katy, which is, ‘If my dad won't let me into his empire, I'm going to build my own' – and to see her finally stepping into those shoes and posing all of the wonderful questions that we get to answer in the future – was really exciting.”

Liu doesn’t know what will happen next in his corner of the MCU – “that's above my pay grade, above my security clearance level” – but feels there's "a richness and a diversity" to these characters that "all embody kind of different slices of what it means to be Asian,” the actor says. “We've just kind of begun to scratch the surface of so many of these incredible heroes and heroines and I would love the opportunity to go back and revisit and expand and interact with others.”

More: Shang-Chi's Simu Liu 'would've given anything' to change his name to Steve. Asian Americans relate.

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: 'Shang-Chi' spoilers: How two end-credits scenes set up future films