The COVID-19 pandemic played a role in some of Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings‘ post-credit moments, according to the film’s director, Destin Daniel Cretton, and star, Simu Liu.
In one of the film’s many stingers, Wong (Benedict Wong) recruits a few of Earth’s Mightiest Heroes to assist Shang-Chi and Katy – played by Simu Liu and Awkwafina, respectively – in understanding the ancient rings at the movie’s core.
The team calls Mark Ruffalo’s Bruce Banner and Brie Larson’s Captain Marvel, via hologram, for some expert advice. The reason for the remote meet-up was twofold, according to the pair. Speaking in the latest episode of ComicBook.com’s Phase Zero podcast, they said:
“They were holograms practically because those characters would not be able to be in that same room in the [Marvel Cinematic Universe], because of what they are up to in other areas of the MCU,” Cretton said. “They were also holograms because there’s no way with COVID that we could have got those actors together. So we were not in the same room. So when you see Simu performing, he’s [looking at something else].”
It is not uncommon for actors to be forced to interact with inanimate objects during filming, particularly in the days of advanced CGI. When interacting with a non-CGI actor, however, the practice is far rarer. Due to COVID restrictions, paired with the far-reaching efforts of the MCU’s Avengers, however, it made little logistical sense to include Larson and Ruffalo in person.
This left Liu to interact with “highlighter tape attached to the ball” while he conversed with Danvers and Banner, according to the actor. The crew also tossed in a few lookalikes to ease the process, but Liu was, thankfully, already well-versed in filming altered CGI scenes.
“I mean, it was a challenge, but I mean, hey. I spent that whole dragon climax acting to a laser pointer, so I was well-versed by then,” Liu said. “It was a lot of fun, that [credits] scene, for a lot of reasons. First of all, Benedict Wong, who plays Wong, was there on the day with us, and he is just absolutely incredible to act with. It very much felt like we were in his wheelhouse. Stepping onto the set, it was like parts of Kamar-Taj that had been assembled together.”
The details behind what that final phrase may be setting up are still a mystery, however, even to Liu. He told ComicBook.com that “if you were to ask me, do I have any idea where we’re going with the rings, or the signal, or anything like that? I would say absolutely not, no more than the most speculative of Marvel websites.”