As has been made abundantly clear by the title, the nefarious comic book organization are set to play a major part in Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings. Of course, the group’s time as part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe dates all the way back to the very first installment after they appeared in Iron Man, but they were soon revealed to be lackeys doing the bidding of Obadiah Stane.
It did lead fans to speculate that the Mandarin would appear in one of the sequels, though, which technically he did, but Iron Man 3‘s twist had the iconic villain become a fictional character created by Aldrich Killian and played by washed up actor Trevor Slattery. However, Marvel One-Shot All Hail the King once again changed the Mandarin’s story by confirming that he was out there somewhere, and wasn’t best pleased at being imitated by a booze-soaked thespian.
Tony Leung will play the real Mandarin in Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings, and rumors have indicated that he could be introduced as the title hero’s father figure before his ulterior motives are made clear. Whether this is the case or not, almost every major plotline in the Infinity Saga is connected to Tony Stark somehow, and a new theory claims that Destin Daniel Cretton’s blockbuster will be no different despite the hero’s death in Avengers: Endgame.
You see, with the Trevor Slattery debacle hurting their reputation, the Ten Rings could emerge from the shadows now that Tony is no longer around. Having gone virtually radio silent since Iron Man 3, they could have spent the last decade rebuilding their resources and waiting for the ideal opportunity to strike, which has now been presented with their most prominent foe permanently out of the picture.
As ScreenRant explains:
There can be no doubt that the Ten Rings were plunged into chaos by the events of Avengers: Infinity War because a lot of their operatives would have been snapped out of existence. Still, they’d have regrouped and attempted to expand their power base and influence during that period. But they’d have been particularly encouraged by the events of Avengers: Endgame, when the snap was undone and – most importantly – Tony Stark died.
It’s important to understand this was as much a geopolitical event as a tragedy for the Avengers because the world’s foremost inventor – a man who was familiar with the Ten Rings and who had proved such a thorn in their hide – was gone. What’s more, the Avengers seem to have disbanded; it’s notable that, in Spider-Man: Far From Home, Talos was forced to resort to recruiting Peter Parker’s Spider-Man to help against the Elementals, a potential threat who would probably have been better opposed by the likes of Thor or the Hulk.
This could perfectly explain why the Ten Rings are about to re-emerge from the shadows. They knew they could not defeat Tony Stark or the Avengers, but Stark is gone now, and the Avengers are disbanded. The time is ripe for them to strike once again, a forgotten threat who have perhaps even been building up resources over the last decade.
Of course, Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings might heavily involve mystical elements, but you can guarantee that the group’s previous dealings with Tony Stark will be mentioned at least once.