2021 saw the release of four very different Marvel Cinematic Universe films that were seemingly not very connected to each other. While Black Widow provides audiences with a flashback to a previous chapter in the MCU, Spider-Man: No Coming Home begins an exploration of the multiverse, Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings introduces a new hero to the MCU, and Eternals rewrites part of the history of the universe. It’s the latter two who might actually be more connected than the public thinks.
Some fans have wondered if the ancient and powerful Ten Rings might have the same origins as the Eternals themselves. The Ten Rings, after all, are circular in design, like most technology used by the Eternals. They also appear to be energy-based in their use, much like the tools and weapons used by the Eternals are powered by cosmic energy. The question is whether the two could be related at all.
In the MCU, audiences are given very little information about the Ten Rings themselves. They inspire Wenwu’s secret organization, even providing him with a logo in modern times, but he uses them to accumulate power and wealth for centuries after he finds them.
In the comics, the Mandarin finds them in an abandoned spaceship like their origins, like the scenes from the Shang Chi the credits suggest, are extraterrestrial. The Ten Rings were originally created by a race of beings called the Makluan. Makluans evolve as a reptilian species, so they resemble Earth’s idea of dragons. Of course, comic rings are finger rings too, not rings that look like bracelets.
Each ring in the comics has a different concentration of power, much like the Infinity Stones in the MCU. While the fight between Shang-Chi and his father certainly indicates that the different rings can be used together or separately, it’s unclear if the MCU version of the rings each have different abilities or not.
The Eternals originally believe themselves to be from a planet called Olympia in the MCU, but they discover that is not the case. They are created by the Celestials to do as they please, aiding new Celestials as they emerge on dying planets. Their memories fade and they start over on another new planet.
While not exactly the same as their comic book origin story, the Eternals worship the Celestials in the comics, and their comic book resurrections come at the cost of human life. Like so many superpowered species in the comics, they are the result of the Celestials’ experimentation with life and cosmic energy.
More than that isn’t really known in the MCU, much like the Ten Rings, since both have only just emerged in the movies. What is clear is that their advanced technology is a result of the Eternals’ ability to manipulate the same cosmic energy that gives birth to the Celestials and provides them with their powers.
Some fans will dismiss a connection between the Ten Rings and the Eternals, saying that spherical gold coins aren’t enough to draw a line between the two. It may be true. There’s no denying, however, that it would be a very big coincidence for two installments of the MCU to use spherical pieces of alien tech to release in the same year and not be connected to each other in some way. ‘another one,
The symbols that appear on the Eternals’ technology and the Rings don’t appear to match, but an illustration in the Eternals the credit sequence might make fans watch twice. The credits feature several rings that lock around an arm. This is clearly meant to be an illustration of one of Phastos’ experiments, but which one? He says he had been working on the idea of connecting them all with bracelets for a long time.
Is it simply a representation of the bracelets used to create the united spirit? This is possible because each of the five United Eternals has a bracelet that locks around them, created by Phastos, to bind them together. The party is able to bond without using the bracelets, and there are many more in the artwork. In fact, it appears to be pieces that make up ten. They were, however, originally ten in the team.
The bracelets themselves seem to lock around the wearer in the same way that the ten rings travel to the wearer. Phastos uses precise hand movements to control and manipulate technology much the same way Wenwu learns to control rings. Maybe it’s just another coincidence?
Of course, the real question is whether the design choices of the Ten Rings and the technology employed by the Eternals is just a coincidence or if there’s a larger story at play. It’s entirely possible that the choice of design is purely because the production teams and filmmakers wanted a particular aesthetic, not because there is a larger connection.
If so, the movies probably won’t even give audiences the Ten Rings origin story unless it ties into a larger narrative. Since the rings themselves seem to act as a sort of beacon in a Shang Chi credits scene, it’s clear that a later MCU installment will, at the very least, deal with their connection to an alien being.
It could very well be the Eternals, Celestials or Makluans from the comics. It’s all about alien beings having a bigger story to tell in future phases of the MCU. Gemma Chan said her Sersi would be back, Harry Styles should return as Starfox, and the Eternals and Celestials left audiences on something of a cliffhanger.
It’s only a matter of time before the public has some answers.
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