Did SHANG-CHI Just Tease the Dark Avengers? - Nerdist
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Did SHANG-CHI Just Tease the Dark Avengers?

In one of the most talked about moments from the Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings trailer, we saw Abomination from The Incredible Hulk fighting Wong from Doctor Strange. No one was expecting the oft-ignored early MCU movie villain to show up, which got us theorizing about his role. But the moment in the movie is even more revealing than expected. Once the pair have fought we learn that Wong was actually training Abomination. Not just that but the pair were fighting together in order to practice… So why would Wong be training the Hulk villain? Well, we think that he might be part of a new elite team created during The Falcon and The Winter Soldier, and that it could all be leading to the introduction of the Dark Avengers.

Who Are the Dark Avengers?
The cover for Dark Avengers shows a number of heroes in shadow in front of a lightening bolt

Marvel Comics

Created by fan fave writer Brian Michael Bendis, the team debuted in the aptly titled Dark Avengers #1. The book was a part of the wider Dark Reign storyline. That’s notable here because that arc introduced Lady Loki. Basically, we’re in territory the MCU is already taking from. Back to those Dark Avengers, Norman Osborn established the team under the guidance of the US government. Why? Well, it all took place in the aftermath of Secret Invasion when everyone learned alien shapeshifters had replaced some of Earth’s greatest heroes. That new status quo left a space for a new hero team… kind of like how the MCU is apparently lacking a main Avengers team after Endgame.

The Dark Avengers comics featured multiple famous supervillains and anti-heroes including Bullseye, Moonstone, Skaar, Noh-Varr, and more. The most interesting thing, though, is how they all took on heroic mantles so the public didn’t know they were villains. We should also note that the most recent leader of the team in the comics was John Walker, U.S. Agent. But we’ll come back to that particular patriotic, deranged character a little later.

So What Does Abomination Have to Do with This?
The Abomination in the ring in the trailer for Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings.

Marvel Studios

While in the Dark Avengers series the Hulk analog was his son Skaar, it would make a lot of sense for the MCU version to use Abomination. The character already exists in the universe and is an established antagonist to the MCU’s Hulk. Plus, he fits into the team’s structure of replacing a hero with a similarly powered villain. The fight was actually part of Wong’s training regime for the monster. So why would he be training him? Well, if someone is putting together a team of alternate superpowered folk—a sort of multiverse strike team—they would definitely need a Hulk. And even Wong himself fits into the group as an alternate Sorcerer Supreme.

Or Is It… the Secret Defenders?
The cover for Secret Defenders #1 shows Doctor Strange controlling a team of edgy heroes like a puppet master

Marvel Comics

Seeing as we already have an idea of the characters being recruited—we’ll get into more detail on that in a moment—it might seem like there are fewer supervillains and more morally compromised mantle holders with the power to do good when more brutal actions are needed. That’s why we have to bring up the Secret Defenders. This team was introduced during the early ’90s and has an immediate connection to what we saw in Shang-Chi. See, none other than Doctor Strange established the Secret Defenders. That fits in with Wong training Abomination here. There’s also the fact that the team consisted of many edgier, lesser-known heroes who worked at the behest of Strange, who used his magical powers to see threats and send them on missions. That sounds like something we could definitely see.

How Does This Potential Team Fit into the MCU?
Wyatt Russell in his Captain America suit as Sam Wilson looks on in The Falcon and the Winter Soldier

Marvel Studios

Remember when Valentina Allegra de Fontaine showed up in The Falcon and The Winter Soldier and Black Widow? Well, it seemed that she was putting together a team. That team consists of noted war criminal John Walker and Russian ex-assassin Yelena Belova. Basically, it’s not necessarily the obvious good guys. Those choices were our first hint that a new darker Avengers team might join the MCU. Wong’s sequence with Abomination seems to confirm that. But would Wong really be working with Valentina? If Sorcerer Supreme saw a potentially world-ending threat, then we’re sure he would.

The other alternative is that Wong and Strange are making a counter team—one that could take down Valentina’s team, and whatever other threats are coming their way. This seems pretty likely as Wong essentially recruited Shang-Chi and Katy at the end of the movie. There’s also a chance that the Sorcerers are recruiting multiple heroes and we’ll end up with all different iterations of the Avengers. Seeing as there’s a Multiverse to save now, we’re going to need more than one team of heroes… or villains.

Speaking of villains, there’s also the fact that Norman Osborn used the mantle of Iron Patriot when he established the team. That seems like it might become relevant with an Armor Wars series coming up. Rhodey will potentially need someone to face down to reclaim Tony’s Iron Man tech. Although we doubt Norman is going to pop up, we might see another villain take on the Iron Patriot mantle… perhaps a certain Justin Hammer? So, as you can see, there are a lot of potential ways that Dark Avengers could come into play as we move into Phase Four.

Featured Image: Marvel Studios

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