Yesterday, I made my way to a very empty theater right at opening to catch Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings, a movie getting massive praise from fans and critics alike, debuting as a top 5 MCU film and racking up sky-high audience scores.
It did not disappoint. The film is stellar. Inhuman action, a gorgeous collection of settings and a stellar cast. And it also happened to resemble one of my favorite video game expansions of all time.
If any avid Destiny fan watches Shang-Chi, about midway through the film you will start seeing parallels to Destiny 2: Forsaken, the game’s first expansion a few years back. To explain what exactly is going on here, I’ll have to get into spoiler territory, so turn back now if you haven’t seen the movie yet. Or I guess if you really don’t want to know what happens in Forsaken after three years.
A little while into the film, you begin to understand that Wenwu/The Real Mandarin, is not just trying to hunt down and murder his kids. He’s trying to collect their pendants gifted to them by their mother, and ultimately bring them home.
Why? Because, as he informs them, he’s hearing their mother’s voice, who is telling him that she is not dead, but trapped behind a gate in her hometown, the mystical city of Ta Lo. And that Wenwu must come free her.
The problem? This is…not what’s happening. As Shang-Chi arrives in Ta Lo, he’s informed by his aunt that actually, there is a giant, ancient, soul-stealing evil trapped behind that door, and it’s using his father’s greatest desire to lure him to set it free.
And did I mention this great evil is…a dragon? I mean, a bat-dragon-octopus…thing, but yeah, a dragon.
So, you see the main bridge now, a direct parallel of Destiny 2’s Forsaken storyline where we’re meant to hate Uldren, who has murdered our friend and caused all manner of chaos, but we learn that he’s doing so because he believe his sister is calling him to come free her from her apparent death. The problem there? Uldren is actually being tricked by an Ahamkara, Riven, a giant….dragon.
Both men do the bidding of the dragon and surprise, it’s a very bad end result, and leads directly to their deaths.
To be clear, I’m not accusing Shang-Chi of stealing anything from Forsaken, but I do think this is a pretty fun coincidence for Destiny fans. And I think the parallels don’t even stop with this major plot point.
It’s also pretty easy to see Ta Lo as the Dreaming City, with both places being mystical realms full of a lost race of magical people, ancestors to our lead character (this works especially well if your Guardian is Awoken). It’s a place that is almost inaccessible to anyone, and you need a special ticket inside. And yet it is also under assault by invading forces that must be cleansed from the land. Ta Lo cleans things up by the end of the film. Destiny 2, three years later, is still trying to fix the Dreaming City (but maybe this season!).
Then, there’s the idea that the heroes are able to craft weapons from pieces of a dragon. In Ta Lo it’s dragon scales, in Destiny it’s Ahamkara dragon bones, the result of the Great Hunt. But both are integrated into many armor and weapons due to their special properties.
In the end, it’s not a perfect fit. A full Uldren parallel would be Wenwu like, killing Awkafina in the first five minutes of the film, as Shang-Chi spends the rest of the movie trying to get revenge. And yet there’s enough here to be fun, and I though it was worth highlighting. Regardless, go see Shang-Chi, Destiny fan or not, as it’s an incredible film and a breath of fresh air in the Marvel universe.