Editorial: Shang-Chi and the Origin of the Ten Rings
What is the origin of the Ten Rings? Shang-Chi and The Legend of the Ten Rings teases a potentially cosmic beginning for the powerful objects, and the speculation is already intense. Let’s break down the clues, theories, and future of the Ten Rings in the MCU.
SPOILERS ahead, so if you haven’t seen Shang-Chi and The Legend of the Ten Rings, do so before reading on.
The movie’s mid-credits scene leads Shang-Chi and Katy back to the study of Wong and an intriguing mystery: where do the Ten Rings come from? What is the source of their power? They don’t appear in the archives of Kamar-Taj. The mystery amplifies immediately with the presence of Dr. Bruce Banner and Carol Danvers, Captain Marvel.
The presence of Bruce Banner makes some sense, given his intellect and likely chief role as the lead scientist in the surviving Avengers organization. Carol Danvers is a huge surprise, but has both a narrative purpose and a practical one, as director Destin Daniel Cretton revealed in an interview.
Carol helps explain that the Ten Rings have no cosmic origin she’s aware of, and she would know. Banner, in human form with his arm still in a sling, underlines the mystery by saying they’re older than what is known and don’t appear to have an earthly origin. They do contain what appears to be a beacon, active and hinting at things to come.
So where do the Ten Rings come from? Let’s break down the most likely possibilities…
The Ten Rings are bracelets in the MCU, but in the comics they’re actually rings, and they come from an alien race known as the Makluans. The most famous member of their race is Fin Fang Foom, the giant green dragon who has played a role off and on in the Marvel Universe. The Makluans would be an underwhelming reveal in the MCU, as they have no real weight in the same way the Skrulls or Kree do, and much of the original origin for the Ten Rings from the comics has been ejected already.
An instant possibility is some connection to the Eternals. The Ten Rings turn gold at the end of the movie, and share some visual similarities to the powers wielded by the Eternals, at least as seen in the trailers for the upcoming movie. The Eternals technology is ancient and completely unknown to anyone on Earth or in the galaxy it seems, making them a likely candidate. But it’s a very short tease if the mystery is resolved in The Eternals movie, which comes out in just two months. Let’s label this as possible but unlikely.
The Nega Bands
The Ten Rings share some physical characteristics with the Nega Bands, powerful weapons designed by the Kree. These ancient weapons were granted to the original Captain Marvel, Mar-Vell, by the Supreme Intelligence. They look like the Ten Rings and bestowed fantastic powers on Mar-Vell.
The problem with this is that Carol Danvers would recognize Kree tech immediately, meaning that they’re probably not the Nega Bands. One exception is that a different pair of Nega Bands were used by Annihilus, from the Negative Zone. Annihilus is a virtual lock for the MCU, and the Ten Rings being from the Quantum Realm in this case would be fun.
The Quantum Bands
Taking that idea a step further, the Ten Rings could be the Quantum Bands. These were similar to the Nega Bands but much more powerful. The cosmic entity Eon created and gave them to Protectors of the Universe, an elite class of cosmic heroes that included Mar-Vell and Quasar. The Quantum Bands are the inspiration for the Kree to create the Nega Bands, so a loophole exists for the MCU to exploit if they want to conflate the two different sets of weapons.
Kang the Conqueror
One reason the Ten Rings don’t register for anyone on Earth is that they’re from the future. Kang the Conqueror uses technology from the 31st century that would be completely opaque to anyone in the 21st. It’s possible that the Ten Rings are relics of Kang’s attempt to manipulate the past, and fans will discover one of his variants was already at work thousands of years ago when Wenwu first acquired them. Everything may not be related to Kang though, allowing for the Ten Rings to open up a new mystery.
What do you think? What other theories or speculation do you have about the Ten Rings or Shang-Chi as a whole? Let us know in the comments!
Darby Harn is a contributor for Screenrant, CBR.com, Star Wars News Net, and Movie News Net. He is the author of the sci-fi superhero novel EVER THE HERO. His short fiction appears in Strange Horizons, Interzone, Shimmer, and other venues.