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Biggest Unanswered Questions In Shang-Chi And The Legend Of The Ten Rings

"Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings" has to thread the same needle as most superhero origin stories, telling a complete, self-contained story while also setting up future adventures. As such, most of the story is linear — we start with Shang-Chi's childhood and end with him becoming the bearer of the Ten Rings. On the surface, it's all wrapped up in a tidy bow within the movie.

Except it's not.

There are several plot points left unresolved, and others that just never get a clean explanation. Much of this is, obviously, setting up sequels and future Avengers-style adventures. It's by design that the audience doesn't learn all the answers — but since you can't seek answers without first knowing the questions, here is a compilation of the most probing, important questions raised during the runtime of "Shang-Chi." They range from the borderline silly to ones with larger MCU implications. 

Be warned, there are spoilers.

What happened to Trevor Slattery?

Trevor Slattery's involvement with "Shang-Chi" was perhaps the worst kept secret about the movie. If Ben Kingsley's red carpet arrivals didn't make it clear, his surprise appearance at the "Shang-Chi" press conference solidified it. His wasn't a bit part, either: Trevor proved critical to the plot, and our heroes could never have found Ta-Lo without him and his no-faced, double-butt pet Morris.

While the audience sees what happens to Shang-Chi, Katy, and Xialing, it is Trevor who just kinda vanishes. He survives the attack of the so-called "soul-suckers" by playing dead, which is hilarious because it might be the greatest performance he's evert given in his lengthy, desperate career — clearly, his heart is in the performance of staying alive by acting dead. 

But what about us, the audience? We never learn if he stayed in the village, left with Shang-Chi's and his gang, or began his own acting troupe among the residents of Ta-Lo. Where is he now — and if he's still friends with Morris — remains an utter mystery. Sir Ben Kingsley is one of the best parts of the film, so here's hoping we don't have to wait another seven years to find out.

What plans does Xialing have for the Ten Rings?

Here's a question that will certainly be answered at some point in the future. One of the last things we hear before the credits roll is that Xialing is at her father's base to dismantle his operations. Then, the post-credits scene reveals that Xialing did indeed show up at the Ten Rings base, but most certainly did not dismantle it. Instead, she takes the throne and is watching over several subordinates as they peruse photos of some variety, while both men and women train in the courtyard, seemingly preparing themselves for whatever target she selects.

We're promised the Ten Rings will return, which means that one way or another we'll get a definitive answer to what Xialing plans on doing with her new crew. We don't know whether Xialing lied about taking apart her dad's toxic infrastructure, or had a sinister change of heart. We also don't know how noble she'll be — although she certainly seemed to end in a positive place, her father operated from a place of grief, and she has now lost both her parents. So, did Xialing's underground fighting outfit The Golden Daggers Club get folded into this new business venture? We'll have to wait to find out.

Are Shang-Chi and Katy dating?

Shang-Chi and Katy are best friends, and have such natural chemistry that Katy's own grandmother asks when the two are going to get married. At no point in the movie is any kind of romantic relationship discussed or even really implied, yet the story follows something resembling a traditional "friends-to-lovers" arc — until they never officially become lovers. Notice, however, that by the end of the movie they are walking arm-in-arm with each other, and certainly seem closer than when they started. So what's their deal?

Director Destin Daniel Cretton addressed this point during a "Shang-Chi" press conference attended by Looper. When asked if Shang-Chi and Katy were meant to be best friends or potential love interests, he said "I mean, aren't all friendships potential love interests?" He went on to say that the relationship is written as intimate, caring, but also strictly platonic. He added that "it also just naturally felt like the only way to go with this movie, because Shang-Chi is so deep in his own inner struggle. I don't think there's emotional space for anything else."

What's unanswered is what happens next -— after all, Shang-Chi's arc in the movie is him finally coming to terms with his upbringing and inner turmoil. Now that he's got a little more emotional space, will these two stay friends forever, or become something more?

How and where did Wenwu find the Ten Rings?

Fittingly, "Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings" begins with a legend. We start with the story of Wenwu using his powers to conquer his enemies, all while Leiko Wu speculates via narration about the origin of the rings. Possibilities like the rings being found in a cave are mentioned, but nothing is ever declared the truth — and that's the sum total of what we know about the MCU-official origins of his power.

In the comics, the rings arrived on Earth many years ago with Fin Fang Foom, the extraterrestrial, shape-shifting lizard/dragon/alien who may or may not be present in "Shang-Chi" in the form of the giant monster that kills Wenwu. The Mandarin tore his spaceship apart looking for artifacts, and that's how he got his ten rings. 

But none of this is mentioned in the movie, and we are told that Wenwu (aka The Mandarin) has possessed these rings for ten lifetimes. So, were they the result of some kind of 11th-century treasure hunt? Was Wenwu seeking them out? We know at the end that the rings have some kind of beacon — were they reaching out to him? Or to Fin Fang Foom's home planet of Kakaranthara and more alien shape-shifters to come after them?

It's almost certain that we'll learn more about the lineage of the Ten Rings at some point. But as for how Wenwu found them? That remains to be seen.

What is the source of the Ten Rings' power?

The Ten Rings are clearly among the most powerful artifacts on earth. We also have no clue how they work. While it's certainly implied that they're a kind of magic, they are tangible enough to be studied scientifically, as shown in the mid-credits scene where a smattering of Avengers are guessing whether science, space or sorcery is the appropriate category to place them in. To guess at the origin of the Ten Rings' power, perhaps it's worthwhile to take a big-picture look at what's considered "magic" in the Marvel universe.

The MCU has a mixed relationship with magic. Dr. Strange is ostensibly a sorcerer, but his power is more about bending reality and harnessing the multiverse than actual magic. Meanwhile, Wanda Maximoff's abilities are explicitly called "Chaos Magic" in "WandaVision," even if there's not much rational explanation given for them at this juncture. The magic used by Loki and other Asguardians is also partially explained by those involved being aliens — in short, they're using powers beyond our comprehension.

All of these offer multiple explanations that could be offered. The Ten Rings might come from another dimension, or even space. They could bend reality, which would explain Wong's interest in them. They could also be just good old fashioned nebulous magic. But as of now, it's another question unanswered.