Cookies help us deliver our Services. By using our Services, you agree to our use of cookies. Learn More.

Characters In Shang-Chi And The Legend Of The Ten Rings That Mean More Than You Realize

"Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings" introduces a slew of new characters to the Marvel Cinematic Universe. With one or two exceptions, every major character in the movie is a brand new one, and many seem destined to shape the goings-on of Phase 4. But it's easy to miss the deeper significance of a few, especially among those viewers who haven't read the comics or aren't familiar with the deeper lore of the MCU. That's where we come in to help.

Some of the characters you see in the film are composites, assembled from several (sometimes problematic) characters in the source material and reimagined for a new generation. Others are entirely brand new, but serve the purpose various predecessors did in comic books. 

Here's a breakdown of the "Shang-Chi" characters who have a notable comics history, and others hinting at a bigger world beyond this movie. Then there's the extra-special one, just a neat little factoid for fans of the director. Whatever the reason, here's a spoiler-heavy list of characters from "Shang-Chi" that are more than meets the eye.

The Dweller-In-Darkness

The Dweller-In-Darkness in "Shang-Chi" is something of a counter dragon to The Great Protector. He has spent centuries trying to break out of the dark gateway, and finally managed to do so after tricking Wenwu into breaking down the barrier with the Ten Rings. He proceeds to suck up the souls of many villagers and combatants before being defeated by the power of friendship (or more literally, an arrow from Katy).

The comic-book-version of the Dweller-In-Darkness is a frequent villain of Doctor Strange as well. He's a Cthulhu-like demon with little physical or biographical resemblance to what we see in the "Shang-Chi" movie, but he is actually an alien who came to Earth long ago, alongside others of his kind and bringing the Ten Rings with him to boot. Yes, there's a pretty decent chance that the Dweller-in-Darkness is a reimagined Fin Fang Foom, a diabolical dragon from the comics and an occasional foe of Shang-Chi. Like many Asian comic characters created by white men in the '60s and '70s, a lot of the specifics of the characters haven't aged terribly well — likely the reason behind this character's ambiguity.

Captain Marvel

Captain Marvel's appearance in the mid-credits scene is, in many ways, traditional MCU worldbuilding. After spending almost the entire movie doing their own thing, Shang-Chi and Katy finally meet up with Wong, Bruce Banner, and Carol Danvers to discuss the Rings. This is obviously the opening salvo to future Shang-Chi adventures and Avengers-style crossovers. But it's not necessarily Carol who means more than it appears — it's Brie Larson herself.

Director Destin Daniel Cretton has four director credits to his name prior to "Shang-Chi." Of those four, the last three (2019's "Just Mercy," 2017's "The Glass Castle," and 2013's "Short Term 12") all feature Brie Larson. She's been there for many phases of his career, with "Short Term 12" often listed as her first true dramatic lead, and he knew her well before she won an Oscar or became Captain Marvel. This, as such, marks the fourth time they've worked together — even if this particular appearance was a brief one.

During an interview with Looper, we asked Cretton what advice Larson gave him. He recalled: "Yeah, she said to do it. She said, 'Just do it.'"

The Abomination

The Abomination makes a brief appearance in "Shang-Chi," fighting Wong in Xialing's fighting ring. This marks his first appearance since "The Incredible Hulk," and his chummy relationship with Wong hints that this is the start of Abomination's new reality in the MCU.

Even though he hasn't been seen, Abomination has loomed in the background for years. In the 2011 short "The Consultant," Agent Phil Coulson said that the powers that be wanted Abomination assigned to the Avengers initiative. Coulson was against this and sent Tony Stark to tank negotiations. Abomination was also name-dropped in an episode of "Agents of SHIELD," where the audience was informed the one-time Hulk foe was still imprisoned.

How and why Abomination ended up friendly with Wong remains unknown. What is known is that Tim Roth is set to reprise the role of Abomination in the upcoming "She-Hulk" Disney+ series. As such, this part in "Shang-Chi" is more than just a cameo — it's a sign of things to come.

Death Dealer

Though never named and silent through the picture's runtime, Death Dealer looms large over the proceedings of "Shang-Chi." He's present for Shang-Chi's grueling training as a child, and acts as Wenwu's right hand man later in life. He's rewarded for this loyalty by getting eaten up by a so-called "soulsucker," a victim of his boss's misguided quest.

Though it's barely explored on screen, Death Dealer does have a brief, albeit notable comics history. Death Dealer was a lieutenant of Fu Manchu, Shang-Chi's father in the comics. He was brutal, and willing to do anything to advance his position. Fu Manchu is the one who provided Death Dealer with the mask and weapons. Death Dealer also had an obsession with playing cards, hence the name. He came to his end after four issues, with Shang-Chi burning the villain alive.

Though Death Dealer himself has stayed dead all these years, he did manage to leave something behind: a son. In 2009, a "Shang Chi: Master of Kung Fu" one-shot comic had Shang-Chi facing off against Huo Li, the Junior to Death Dealer's Frank Grimes. Might we see Huo Li in further MCU adventures? Only time will tell.

Razor Fist

If you haven't read the comics or weren't paying all that close attention in the theater, the name "Razor Fist" should make the character in question easy to identify. A mercenary with a razor for a fist, he's hired by Wenwu to track down Shang-Chi. The two have several altercations before ultimately working together to stop the soulsuckers.

There have been three (or, more accurately, 2.5) Razor Fists in the comics. The first appeared in a three-issue "Master of Kung Fu" arc in 1975. Unlike the movie, he had razors on each hand (which made him more Razor-Fists than Razor-Fist, but we digress). He died after his brief run, meaning that he arguably got more development over the course of a two hour movie than he ever did in the comics.

The second and third Razor Fist debuted in 1981, in the form of brothers William and Douglas Scott. The two were in a car accident, with each losing an arm. The villainous Carlton Velcro gave each of the Scott brothers a sword arm and — not long after — shot and killed Douglas. William has since bounced around as a minor villain and henchman.

It's not known which of the three possible candidates is the Razor-Fist we see in the "Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings' movie, but his survival means perhaps we could learn his true identity and backstory in some future MCU project.