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The Ending Of Shang-Chi And The Legend Of The Ten Rings Explained

"Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings" is another great trip to the Marvel theme park. It's an exciting story full of action and adventure, but it's more immediately the story of Shang-Chi coming to terms with his upbringing, reconciling the good with the bad, and truly learning to harness the heart of the dragon. It's also the story of how martial arts, dragons, and Tony Leung are cool as hell. 

There is a lot that happens in this movie towards the end — a lot of action, a lot of overlapping set pieces, and a lot of cool monsters. Here, we'll try to break down the ending of the movie, both a blow-by-blow of the action and some of the themes. We're also going to talk about how each of the three main characters have their own hero's journey. 

Be warned: Spoilers ahead (Of course, why wouldn't there be? We're explaining the ending here!).

The Ten Rings at Ta-Lo, Wenwu when the wall fell

Let's begin by talking about the ending, which kicks into high gear with Wenwu's arrival at Ta-Lo. The citizens of Ta-Lo try to convince Wenwu one last time that his wife isn't behind the dark gate, but to no avail. Wenwu and the Ten Rings start a battle against Ta-Lo. Katy is repeatedly denied the chance to join the fight, being told that she's not ready.

Wenwu and Shang-Chi finally have a showdown, during which the father defeats the son and throws him into the water. Wenwu makes it to the gate and begins attacking it, freeing what is referred to as "soulsuckers." These small, freaky flying creatures start attacking the village, stealing the souls of both Ta-Lo citizens and the Ten Rings (including Death Dealer). The two sides agree to a truce, and begin fighting the soulsuckers together.

As Shang-Chi sinks further and further into the depths underwater, The Great Protector —  likely sensing that Shang-Chi has the heart of the dragon — awakens. Shang-Chi comes bursting out of the water on the back of The Great Protector, with the dragon eating many of the soulsuckers. Shang-Chi is dropped off to fight his father, during which Shang-Chi finally harnesses the power of the elements. At this point, though, it's too late; the soulsuckers have acquired enough souls to free the so-called Dweller-in-Darkness, an enormous lizard/dragon/alien who may or may not be based on the comic character Fin Fang Foom. The Dweller grabs Wenwu and devours him, with Wewnu expressing regret as the Rings transfer to Shang-Chi.

The battle against the Dweller

Shang-Chi rides on the Great Protector, who takes on the Dweller-in-Darkness. At one point, Xialing joins Shang-Chi, almost falling off the Great Protector and telling Shang-Chi to let her go. The moment reflects an earlier time in their lives when Xialing was left behind by her brother, and Shang-Chi says no, he's not going to lose her again. At this point, many people have been lost and the situation has become dire — until Katy is finally allowed to join the fight. The Dweller tries to absorb the power of the dragon, but Katy manages to shoot the Dweller in the neck with an enhanced arrow. The beast is finally defeated, and the village mourns those they lost.

Back in San Francisco, Shang-Chi and Katy recount their adventure to friends, adding that Xialing went to her father's compound to shut down the operation. These friends, understandably, don't believe them ... until Wong shows up, makes sure Shang-Chi has the Rings, and brings them back through a portal. The mid-credits scene reveals that the Rings were a beacon, and Bruce Banner and Carols Danvers welcome the two to "the circus." Instead of going back home, Katy and Shang-Chi take Wong out for some karaoke, with all three belting out a celebratory "Hotel California."

The post-credits scene reveals that Xialing did not, in fact, shut down the operation. Instead, she took it over and now seems to be training an army. Her designs at this point are unknown, but fans are told by a title card that the Ten Rings will return.

The (Super)Hero's Journey

Shang-Chi's transformation is both complex and simple. He started the movie as a man trying to move on from his upbringing, but nobody — especially people with literal supervillain fathers — can outrun their past. By the end of the movie, he has stopped running and come to terms with his upbringing: the good, the bad, the ugly, and the beautiful. He has the heart of the dragon, like his mother said. It's not 100% clear whether his father willingly gave him the Rings or whether he retrieved them himself, but either way the end result is that he is worthy to wield them.

When Katy trained as an archer, she was told that she'd hit nothing if she aimed at nothing. At the start of the movie, Katy is proudly directionless. She revels in being good enough at a dead end job that allows her to party all the time. Now she has a purpose — however, she still makes time for late night karaoke.

Xialing, meanwhile, had to learn her skills in the shadows. Her father would barely acknowledge her, much less train her. She also learned not to trust people, especially the men in her life. It's too early to tell whether she trusts Shang-Chi again, but now that she's in charge of something more powerful than an underground fighting ring, it's clear that she'll never let women be sidelined again under her watch.