Chloé Zhao’s Eternals is a sprawling sci-fi addition to the MCU. While the stylistic extravagance and cosmic stakes mean it feels different to what’s come before that doesn’t mean it’s any less integral to the future of the franchise. Spanning over 7000 years the film could be completely isolated from the MCU, but of course this is an interconnected superhero world, so it is still deeply intertwined in the lore. You probably caught the references to Thanos and the Blip. But did you notice that a vital third act weapon looked incredibly familiar? And might be an unexpected connection to Shang-Chi?
What are the Ten Rings?
In the MCU they’re the legendary mythical weapons wielded by Wenwu in Shang-Chi and later by his son. No one knows their origin other than the fact that Wenwu has had them for millennia. While in the comics they were actual rings, the MCU took a different approach. Here they were bracelets. It fit in with the martial-arts influenced take on Shang-Chi. And in the context of Eternals it adds an interesting potential connection. What are we talking about? Well take your mind back to the post-credits scene of Shang-Chi. There Wong showed the Ten Rings to the remaining Avengers. None of them recognized the artifacts. They didn’t fit into any Wakandan or alien database the team had access to. And they were allegedly working as a beacon sending a message to someone or something in the ether.
Are the Ten Rings in Eternals?
This is very much open to interpretation. But we do think that the bracelets Phastos creates for the Eternals in order to connect them to the Unimind are the Ten Rings. Or at least a version of them. There’s a few different things that make us think that, beginning with the way that they look. When Phastos creates the bands, he pulls them apart and we see the interior workings of the rings. It looks very similar to what we see at the end of Shang-Chi. Plus changing the Ten Rings to being unknowable magical bracelets and the introducing magical bracelets for the Eternals who number 10 seems unlikely to be a coincidence.
Phastos is the only person in the MCU intelligent and powerful enough to create a powerful set of artifacts like the Ten Rings. Eternals established that Phastos can literally make anything he can imagine. He has made most of the major technological advancements in the known world. If this was the case it would also explain why no one in the MCU could identify them… as the Eternals have been undiscovered for 7000 years. And as for that beacon, wouldn’t something made to connect the Eternals, be trying to find its rightful owners? Couldn’t the beacon be looking for the heroes who were made to wear them??
If Phastos created the Ten Rings now then how did Xu Wenwu get them in the past?
This is the biggest question. But there’s actually a couple of simple answers. The first is that Phastos mentions the rings and the Unimind are inventions he’s been working on for a long time. Seeing as the Eternals have been around for 7000 years in their current form, that would mean there could easily have been an early version of the rings around the time Wenwu found them. That would also explain why he had all ten, because any prototype versions that Phastos was creating would have included a ring for Ajak too. Ten Eternals equals Ten Rings. So it makes sense that Wenwu might have come across Phastos or the rings 1000 years ago during their early stages.
The other option is more out there but includes one of our faves: Kang the Conqueror. Now that we know Kang has been around for millennia, it’s not hard to imagine he might have come up against the Eternals in either the past or future. If the version of the rings that Phastos made in the movie are the only version–perhaps with a spare made for Ajak to truly unite the Unimind–then how did Wenwu have them 1000 years ago? Well, what if Kang came into contact with the Eternals in the near future? And ended up taking them back with him into the past? There it would have been easy for him to hand them to Wenwu. Or for Wenwu to steal them and defeat them. It’d also explain why Kang’s display of the multiverse in Loki looked so similar to the inner workings of the Ten Rings.
What would this Ten Rings origin mean for the MCU?
Well, first and foremost it would explain where the Ten Rings came from. It would also connect Shang-Chi to the Eternals. If Shang is strong enough to wield the 10 alien weapons it would also hint that he might be the most powerful MCU Earth hero. And depending on how Wenwu got them we’d get a deeper connection to the Eternals or Kang. So right now it’s up in the air, but we could easily see the Eternals connection to the Rings play a big part in the wars to come. Especially as they’re now in the hands of the Avengers. And with the Celestials coming back to Earth to judge humanity, they might not be too happy to find an Eternal weapon that was used to disobey them in the hands of Earth’s Mightiest Heroes…
Featured Image: Marvel Studios