Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings centered on the Mandarin and his titular rings — here’s a breakdown of their respective powers, as revealed by the movie and comics. The iconic villain has been teased as long as the MCU has been around. His infamous group, The Ten Rings, was responsible for Tony Stark’s abduction in 2008’s Iron Man. The group has since recurred, often in the shadows. They facilitated attempts on Tony Stark’s life in the direct sequel and an agent of the group was present in 2015’s Ant-Man.
For Iron Man 3, it seemed as though the Mandarin himself would finally appear. Surprisingly, a twist revealed that an actor was merely posing as the Mandarin. The move was divisive, with the idea of Aldrich Killian (Guy Pearce) declaring himself “the real Mandarin” proving controversial in itself. In the wake of these narrative choices, the MCU course-corrected, using a one-shot to reveal via Trevor Slattery (Ben Kingsley) that the Mandarin actually did exist. And, furthermore, that he was equally annoyed at his name being besmirched.
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Fortunately, the official release of Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings further fixed the Iron Man 3 twist. As well as casting Simu Liu in the titular role, Awkwafina as Katy, and Meng’er Zhang as Xialing, Shang-Chi rightfully removed the problematic Fu Manchu from his place in Shang-Chi’s previously established story. Instead, delivering one of the MCU’s most complex antagonists, complete with surprisingly understandable motives and more likable charisma than anticipated, Tony Leung played Wenwu (a.k.a. the real Mandarin). A record-breaking amount of fans have now seen Leung in action with his titular weaponry. Newly reimagined to be more like Kung-Fu Hustle-style arm bracelets than traditional rings, they were nonetheless powerful. Here’s a breakdown of each ability Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings depicted, as well as how they compare to the comic book abilities and history.
What Are The Ten Rings?
Apart from an infamous terrorist organization, the Ten Rings referred to the objects worn by the Mandarin — and from which he has drawn considerable power. The titular garments first appeared alongside the Mandarin in 1964’s Tale of Suspense #50. Created by Stan Lee and Don Heck, they are revealed to be technology from an alien race named Makluans. Often described as “Space Dragons,” they hailed from the planet Kakaranthara. Growing tired of their planet’s tranquility, several soon sought out other worlds to explore.
One such explorer, Axonn-Karr, ultimately made it to Earth. Landing in China’s Valley of Spirits, he was mortally wounded by the understandably fearful natives. Soon after, Axonn-Karr, his rings, and his ship were discovered by the Mandarin. With each ring containing the soul of a legendary cosmic warrior, he was immediately seduced by the considerable power contained within. As a result, the Mandarin completed Axonn-Karr’s journey to the grave and claimed them for his own. The Mandarin took to wearing one on each finger and rapidly trained himself in the respective powers of each individual ring.
It has been impossible to determine whether this particular backstory will remain canon within the MCU. After all, by the conclusion of Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings, the origins of the objects and from where Wenwu acquired them remained shrouded in mystery. Equally, the source of their power remained much the same, though they seemed to draw energy (or chi) from their respective users. As such, they could easily be tied into existing MCU corners and such upcoming movies like Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness or even the much closer Eternals. Whatever the case, with the rings seemingly summoning something, answers will most likely come in an inevitable Shang-Chi sequel. Regardless of whether they came from Makluans or something else, the objects still afforded their owner(s) a whole range of different and impressive abilities.
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Ten Rings’ Powers In The MCU
Several of the titular objects’ abilities were utilized throughout Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings. Firstly, they were established as being able to function as projectiles and still do the Mandarin’s bidding when away from him. That could lend itself to them, like the comics, having a quarantined A.I. that serves the official wielder. Then again, the connection could equally be retconned to be mystical. Whatever future reveals await, they were akin to Thor and his hammer, Mjölnir. That was emphasized by the rings returning almost sentiently to the Mandarin’s arm after being used as projectile weapons or to deflect incoming attacks.
They were also seen imbuing the Mandarin with enhanced strength, as demonstrated when he brought down a mystical gate containing the Dweller in Darkness with mere punches. They also allowed the iconic villain to fire off concussive energy blasts. These were primarily used offensively. In Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings flashbacks, the Mandarin was depicted firing off a number of these across multiple points in his long life. Glowing blue, they had the effect of knocking enemies down or seemingly outright killing. Those energy blasts also allowed both Wenwu and Shang-Chi to levitate or propel themselves great distances.
His aforementioned long life was also a product of the rings. Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings never determined how that function actually worked. Given that Wenwu simply seemed to never age, it was implied that they are either constantly regenerating the user’s body or simply able to freeze the aging process entirely. Whatever the case, the wearer is able to give even the Eternals a run for their money the moment they are put on. And since that they were left in the hands of Shang-Chi, that could signal a sad complication in his being friends or forming a relationship with Katy as long as they remain his weapon of choice.
Ten Rings’ Powers In Marvel Comics
With the benefit of decades’ worth of material, the power of the rings has been more specifically defined in the comics. Given names and even nicknames, each comes with a unique power befitting the soul trapped within. Here’s a full list of each ring, what they were called, and, more importantly, what they allowed the Mandarin to do:
The first was known as the Matter-Rearranger Ring (a.k.a. Remaker). Worn on the Mandarin’s right thumb, it enabled him to manipulate matter on an atomic level. This ring was used in a range of ways, from altering his own appearance and clothing to poisoning or even solidifying the air around his enemies.The second, worn on the right index finger, was named the Impact Beam Ring (a.k.a. Influence). As glimpsed in Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings, it was used to attack and propel enemies with a concussive blast. It could also be used to produce a beam that was more sonic in nature, incapacity enemies with high-intensity sound.Next was the Vortex Beam Ring (a.k.a. Spin). Worn on the right middle finger, it was able to manipulate the air, even whipping it up in a Tornado-like fashion. As well as forming an effective attack on enemies, this particular ring also meant the Mandarin could levitate items or even himself.The Disintegration Beam Ring (a.k.a. Spectral) was worn on the right ring finger. Producing a beam that destroys the bonds between atoms and molecules, this ring did exactly what it said on the label. In the comics, it was only inanimate objects that it could disintegrate. That could, however, be changed for the movie, making the Mandarin an even more considerable threat. Fortunately, the comics also gave heroes a fighting chance by giving the ring a need to recharge for 20 minutes between each use.The Black Light Ring (a.k.a. Nightbringer) was worn on the right ring finger. As well as conceivably being able to expose Star-Lord’s ship as a Jackson Pollock-esque nightmare, it utilized Darkforce energy to conjure an area of darkness around his vicinity.
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Worn on the left thumb was its polar opposite, the White Light Ring (a.k.a. Daimonic). It allowed the Mandarin and conjure and manipulate electromagnetic energy. This resulted in several impressive functions including blinding enemies with intense light and reorganizing gravity fields in order to trap people. It also gifted him further ways of levitating items and himself, as well as the ability to manifest holographic projections and duplicates of himself.The Flame-Blast Ring (a.k.a. Incandescence) adorned the left index finger. Another that did exactly as described, it produced fire blasts and could otherwise ignite surrounding areas and objects via infrared.Glimpsed on the left ring finger, the Mento-Intensifier Ring (a.k.a. The Liar) enhanced the Mandarin’s psionic energies. Not dissimilar from Sylvie (Sophia Di Martino) in Loki, this ring allowed the Mandarin to project illusions into the minds of others and otherwise affect their senses to manipulate them. This ring could also be used to render enemies in a temporarily catatonic state.The Electro-Blast Ring (a.k.a. Lightning) was worn on the left middle finger and produced the kind of electrical blasts to make even Thor think somebody was stealing his thunder.Gracing the left little finger, the Ice Blast Ring (a.k.a. Zero) rounded out the Mandarin’s control of the elements. Conjuring intense cold, he could trap enemies in ice blocks or manifest ice-based weapons.
The nature of the Mandarin’s abilities emphasized why the character wouldn’t have been a good fit before Phase 4. Though things have increasingly changed, the MCU started out very grounded and had to build to its more outlandish elements. That groundedness was especially true of the Iron Man trilogy, which was rooted in science and technology. Though the Mandarin’s rings could fall into that category, they also blurred the lines between the cosmic and the mystical. As such, with both having become more widely prevalent, Phase 4 marked the best time for him to emerge. Most of the rings’ more outlandish comic book powers weren’t present in Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings. Still, there’s every chance Shang-Chi could unlock new ones in the future, that either Wenwu wasn’t aware of or simply opted not to use in his quest against Ta Lo, or in the various flashbacks shown.
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Eternals (2021)Release date: Nov 05, 2021
Spider-Man: No Way Home (2021)Release date: Dec 17, 2021
Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness (2022)Release date: Mar 25, 2022
Thor: Love and Thunder (2022)Release date: May 06, 2022
Black Panther: Wakanda Forever/Black Panther 2 (2022)Release date: Jul 08, 2022
The Marvels/Captain Marvel 2 (2022)Release date: Nov 11, 2022
Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania (2023)Release date: Feb 17, 2023
Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 (2023)Release date: May 05, 2023
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About The Author
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John Atkinson has been a news and feature writer for Screen Rant since late 2018. Before that, he had articles published across a number of different outlets. A graduate of the University of London, John was raised on a small island by television and movies. As such, he pursued a career in screenwriting and film journalism when it became apparent that actually becoming Spider-Man was impossible. John’s fondest wish is to one day produce a film of his own. Until then, he’s more than happy to spend countless hours just talking about them.
John’s love of film and television defies genre and sometimes even logic. Nothing is off-limits to his passion – be it Marvel, DC, Rian Johnson’s Star Wars, or Tommy Wiseau’s latest cinematic offering.
Away from screens, John can often be found in a park reading mystery and/or fantasy novels, jumping up and down at various music events, or thinking too deeply about Keanu Reeves’ career and why Edgar Wright doesn’t have an Oscar.
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