At one level,“The ending is what you would expect from a Marvel movie – the heroes fight a horde of CG creatures to save the world. But it’s also intriguing open to interpretation, the climax drawing on Chinese myths and the philosophy of martial arts as Shang-Chi faces both demonic soul-sucking creatures and his own father.
Not everything is explicitly explained in the dialogue or referenced earlier in the film, as Shang-Chi’s choices and their consequences are presented visually. This makes the ending either philosophically intriguing or vaguely annoying, giving you the chance to draw your own conclusions about how things turned out … or toss popcorn at the screen in annoyance.
Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings is ain theaters now (and would have aired on in October). Let’s see how this ending could be interpreted. Spoilers, of course!
Before the film’s finale, Shang-Chi and Xialing arrive at the hidden mystical village of Ta-Lo, where they are greeted by Michelle Yeoh as Aunt Ying Nan. It fills the history of the village, introduced in the Thor’s comics in 1980 as a pocket dimension filled with mythical animals like the Dijiang (the faceless winged creature actor Trevor Slattery nicknames Morris), and what seems to be Xiezhi resembling a lion.
Their father Wenwu soon ruins the family reunion, however, by using his water card to bring an army of Ten Rings assassins to the long-hidden romance. After sending Shang-Chi to a seemingly watery grave, Wenwu searches for what he thinks is his late wife’s voice. Knocking the spooky door releases a bunch of flying CG creatures, which is perhaps the first sign that it’s not his beloved Jiang Li whispers to him after all.
The first victim of the flying beasts is Death Dealer, the silent assassin in Kabuki makeup. It’s quite disappointing, as the character never quite lived up to his badass look. But there’s no time to worry as the evil soulsuckers are followed by a much bigger boss, the Dweller-in-Darkness. Making his comic book debut in 1974 as an opponent of Marvel heroes including Thor and Dr. Strange, he was a Lovecraftian entity feeding on fear. In the movie, every murder makes the Dweller stronger, although for some reason all it takes is an arrow in the throat to deactivate the dreaded creature. Nice shot Katy!
Fortunately, Shang-Chi is not drowning, as a dragon appears to be helping him. Shang-Chi’s mother has sometimes mentioned that the magic of the village is linked to a dragon and it turns out that this is not a metaphor: the dragon is real, lives in the lake and happily flies with Shang-Chi on the back. It’s not really clear whether Shang-Chi is controlling the dragon or just hanging onto life, but their partnership seems to be a symbol of Shang-Chi’s new connection to nature.
When not stealing dragons, the conflict in Shang-Chi’s soul is symbolized on screen by the different fighting styles used by the character. Shang-Chi was trained as a brutal killer by his father Wenwu, whose baton fighting style symbolizes an ego-driven lust for power. It should be noted that Wenwu tries to open the door by hitting it violently, for example.
But upon arriving at Ta-Lo, Wenwu and Shang-Chi are introduced to a softer, more defensive style by the women they meet, a style that feels more akin to dancing. These elegant circular movements can harness the wind, connect with the elements, and generally be more in tune with nature. The contrast is seen in Wenwu’s clubbing closed fist versus Jiang Li’s elegant open hand.
The tension between the closed fist and the open hand is a key element of Tai chi, Baguazhang and other martial arts, seen in the fist salute when you place your open palm over your fist in greeting. In the film, there is a charming moment when Ying Nan gently opens Shang-Chi’s fist. It’s a skillful visual storytelling that doesn’t need to be over-explained in dialogue.
So, although it was not explicitly stated, it seems that when they first met Jiang Li’s sleek style countered Wenwu’s brutality because his connection to the balance of nature was more powerful than his greed for the conquest.
That’s the lesson Shang-Chi takes in the finale. Facing his father, Shang-Chi must choose between the brutality his father taught him or the gentler and natural path represented by his mother. By adopting his mother’s elegant style, even refusing to fight, he is able to thwart his father’s attack just like his mother did.
At this point, Shang-Chi is also able to take control of the much-vaunted rings his father used to gain power through the ages. Again, it is not explicitly explained why this is possible. It’s not even particularly clear what choice or change Shang-Chi has made that allows him to take control of the Rings. The MCU has already taken inspiration from mythology to present weapons that respond to the character of the wearer, such as Thor’s Hammer, although the rings have been auctioning off Wenwu for millennia, so it’s clear they aren’t. not as good judges of character as Mjolnir.
Maybe it’s a self-confident thing like Luke Skywalker opening up to the Force in Star Wars. But the theme of the film is a conflicting identity, so it would make sense for Shang-Chi’s power to be rooted in his new acceptance of his Chinese roots, his connection to tradition and nature, and a rejection of his father’s brutality. .
So it seems that the rings are responding to Shang-Chi’s new natural and harmonious energy rather than controlling Wenwu’s brute force. It’s likely that this is somehow related to the origin of the Rings, a story the Avengers want to unravel on the mid-credits scene.
Unfortunately for Shang-Chi, his father’s essence is ultimately swallowed up by Dweller-in-Darkness. But once Shang-Chi is in tune with the village dragon rings and powers, he is finally able to defeat the soul-eating creature.
When the village is safe, all that remains is to drop water lanterns in homage to the dead. Shang-Chi and Katy return to San Francisco, but their adventures will continue: Dr. Strange’s mystical pal Wong goes through a portal and takes them to study the Ten Rings, leading to the mid-credits scene involving Captain Marvel. and Bruce Banner. This is followed by a post-credits scene suggesting that even though Shang-Chi has the actual Ten Rings, Xialing has plans for the ninja army of the same name … Click here to dive into themore in detail.
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