Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings might introduce a new hero into the MCU, but it also connects up with the franchise’s past and present, as well as setting up its future. As has been revealed in the trailers, Wong (Benedict Cumberbatch) and Abomination – originally played by Tim Roth in The Incredible Hulk – have cameos in the movie as the pair are seen sparing in a cage match.
Fans were surprised to see these two characters in Shang-Chi as they seemed like such random additions to the martial arts-themed Marvel movie. When discussing how the pair came to be in the film with The Hollywood Reporter, director Destin Daniel Cretton explained that there were various possibilities thrown around but the ones that were chosen ultimately made the most sense within the wider MCU.
“How we arrive at ideas is so hard to trace back to where they began,” Cretton says. “Abomination was just a result of twenty-to-thirty what-ifs. And then we landed on a pairing that felt really great, but it was also a pairing that made sense to what’s happening in the MCU around the time of our movie. So there are definite links happening that you will pick up on if you’re involved with everything else that’s happening in the MCU.”
So what could this mean? Well, the Spider-Man: No Way Home trailer saw Wong leave Doctor Strange in charge of the Sanctum Sanctorum while he goes off somewhere – it’s possible that his role in Shang-Chi fits in at this point in the timeline. Of course, we’ll be seeing Wong again soon after that, too, in next March’s Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, so he’s pretty much a key player in the franchise right now.
As for Abomination, his return appears much weirder at first glance, but Cretton’s comments remind us that it’s been confirmed that Roth is set to reprise his role as Emil Blonsky in the upcoming She-Hulk TV series. So all our questions about the villain – how come his appearance has changed? Why is he now hanging around with Wong and battling in cage fights? – will hopefully be answered in that Disney Plus show.
Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings is now playing in theaters.