Nothing is ever purely a coincidence. At least that is the rule I go by as a fan of the Marvel Cinematic Multiverse. After twenty-five movies (with two more coming by the end of the year) and four shows already on Disney+, everything within the confines of the Marvel Studios projects feels connected and important. The connective tissues, which so many of my articles have been about since I started writing here at The Cosmic Circus, are the bits that make the world feel bigger and more realistic, as well as the parts that fans seem to look for the most. While Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings had plenty of that connective tissue for fans, it also provided a reflection of another project from Marvel Studios, WandaVision, and the potential trajectory for the Scarlet Witch, played by Elizabeth Olsen.
Warning: Spoilers from Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings below!
At the heart of Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings is a story about the struggle between a son and his father. Though it is not a typical struggle between the two when your father is the leader of the Ten Rings. Shang-Chi’s (Simu Liu) life was turned upside down when his mother was killed at seven years old. Her death at the hand of a rival gang is a driving force of the entire film, especially in the motivations of Wenwu (Tony Leung) and his desire to find Ta Lo. Throughout the film, Wenwu believes he hears the voice of his long-deceased wife Ying Li (Fala Chen) calling to him.
The disembodied voice tells Wenwu that she is being kept as a prisoner in Ta Lo, her village from life before her marriage, and she needs him along with the Ten Rings Organization to come and save her. As misguided as his actions are, Wenwu is motivate by the love for his wife and is instead tragically bamboozled by the Dweller-in-Darkness who was using him and the Ten Rings as a means of escape. The Dweller-in-Darkness felt the power of the Ten Rings, and was about to use the voice of Wenwu’s beloved wife Ying Li to manipulate him. Ta Lo, where the Dweller-in-Darkness is imprisoned behind some dragon-scale walls, is actually in a different dimension than the one the story takes place. Meaning, that the creature was able to call across dimensions to Wenwu. Now, you may ask, as I did, why does this sound familiar?
While the disembodied voice speaks to Wenwu throughout the entire film, the interactions between the two reminded me of another scene from earlier this year. Specifically the post-credit scene of WandaVision. After the conclusion of the events in Westview, Wanda Maximoff (Elizabeth Olsen) flies off to a cabin in the woods where she is shown being able to split herself through astral projection. As the camera zooms in on Scarlet Witch Wanda, in her beautiful new costume, viewers see her flipping through the Darkhold. The scene is incredibly intense with the music building to the voices of her frightened children calling out for their mother.
“Mom, Help!” the voices of the twins exclaim, seemingly coming from a distance. A look of pure panic, excitement, and worry crosses Wanda’s face before she sweeps the screen away. While there is a chance that this could be her children from a different dimension calling out to her, the distinct parallels to Wenwu’s storyline in Shang-Chi, lead me to believe that there could be something more sinister going on. With the events of Avengers: Age of Ultron, Avengers: Infinity War, and WandaVision, Wanda Maximoff has lost so much in her life. The loss of Vision (Paul Bettany) for a second time accompanied by her children created within the confines of Westview, mirrors the huge loss Wenwu felt at the loss of his wife. Just like Wenwu, Wanda would also stop at absolutely nothing to get back her loved ones.
So I do wonder if perhaps another force similar to the Dweller-in-Darkness is reaching through the multiverse in need of Scarlet Witch’s specific power set. Someone who needs her to crack open a hole between multiverses so they can escape. It seems this possibility is rather likely, with her using and learning from the Darkhold – a magical book that Agatha Harkness (Kathryn Hahn) used to steal other’s power. The same book predicted a sinister fate for Wanda and her chaos magic. With rumors of Shuma Gorath appearing in Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, perhaps he is the one looking for someone powerful enough to help him escape? Hopefully, Wanda proves herself to be strong enough to withstand whoever is calling out to her because I would hate to see someone so powerful, and so beloved, go to the dark side.
Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings are currently in theaters. All episodes of WandaVision are exclusively on Disney+. We will see what happens to the Scarlet Witch in Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness which is scheduled to hit theaters on March 25, 2022.