Spoiler alert: This story contains spoilers for Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings.
The newest film in Marvel's Phase 4, Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings, is currently in theaters (and only in theaters, unfortunately), giving fans their first look at the MCU post-Avengers: Endgame.
The Shang-Chi film is varies wildly from the comics, which has a history of depicting racist stereotypes that many hoped Marvel would rectify in the film. As a result, many Marvel fans are uncertain about some of the backstory for Shang-Chi's character.
For example, the Ten Rings are an integral part of the film's plot, but the trailer alone signals to fans that they'll look very different than they did in the comics. What is the origin story for the Ten Rings, and how did Shang-Chi get them in the first place?
How did Shang-Chi get his rings? The comics give some clues.
In the original Shang-Chi comics from the 1970s, the Ten Rings have a bit of a wacky origin story. According to the official Marvel website, the rings come from the planet Maklu-IV, which is home to the "dragon-like race Axonn-Karr (or Makluans)." These rings, which were originally small enough to fit on a person's finger (instead of their arm, like in the film), were used to power the Makluans' spaceships.
Which is exactly how they ended up on Earth. Mandarin, the villain from Iron Man 3 and Shang-Chi's father, discovered the rings on a crashed spaceship, likely from Fin Fang Foom, the comics' most-recognized Makluan.
In the comics, each ring held a different power: Ice Blast, Mento-Intensifier, Electro-Blast, Flame Blast, White Light, Black Light, Disintegration Beam, Vortex Beam, Impact Beam, and Matter Rearranger.
In the comics (and in Iron Man 3), Mandarin learns to utilize the rings for his own power, which leads to his villain origin story. Fin Fang Foom is not in Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings, but that doesn't mean we won't see him in later Marvel installments.
It's assumed that Shang-Chi inherited the rings after defeating his father.
However, the MCU doesn't explain the rings' origin story.
In the film's post-credits scene, we see Wong, Bruce Banner, Captain Marvel, and others monitoring the signals coming from the Ten Rings — artifacts none of them are able to recognize, despite their combined intergalactic travels. They discuss their bafflement over the Ten Rings before eventually going to karaoke, leaving viewers with no new answers, but setting up the potential for the question to be answered in the future.
Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings is the first Marvel movie to continue the storyline post-Endgame. Given how many other films and shows are planned as part of Phases 4 and 5 in the MCU, we're hopeful we'll get our answers in an upcoming production.
Considering how much the movie deviates from the comics, though, don't expect the Ten Rings origin stories to match up. The original comics may serve as a source of inspiration, but it's likely that the Marvel films will take many liberties going forward.