Falcon and the Winter Soldier: Will The 10 Rings Replace HYDRA?

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San Diego Comic Con’s Phase 4 has offered a lot of special tidbits about the future of the MCU. Marvel is setting the stage for new cosmic characters and integrating the Fox properties. There’s a street level track and a cosmic level track that Marvel is setting up that will have to clash eventually. Falcon and the Winter Soldier could potentially set the street level heroes on a path towards the other. How? The answer could potentially lie in Helmut Zemo and who’s employing him. Thanks to Marvel’s excellent storytelling, Zemo is more than just Hydra. We submit that he’s being employed by the 10 Rings. Let’s break down potentially how that could work – and reshape the MCU at large.

Kevin Feige teased that the 10 Rings have been carving a path through the MCU for the past 3 Phases.

If you look on The 10 Rings wiki page you can track the 10 Rings from their first appearance in Iron Man to their appearance in the first Ant-Man movie. That’s quite a stretch of films for a group that originally started out as just Iron Man villains. While Iron Man 3 offered a disappointing ‘ending’ to the Mandarin, it seems as if the MCU is gearing up for something big. Captain America: The Winter Soldier saw the seeming destruction of HYDRA. That leaves plenty of opportunities for other groups to pillage their tech – which would be a smart way to bring back enemies. 

It seems like the 10 Rings have been here since the beginning and may finally be ready to make their way to the stage… 

The 10 Rings can offer consistent storytelling opportunities like HYDRA did.

HYDRA came into the MCU as a worldwide terrorist organization with Nazi beginnings. It hasn’t changed and, while it’s been seemingly ground to dust, the MCU took a smart approach by having people find pieces of old HYDRA tech and reuse it, something the 10 Rings are very capable of doing.

HYDRA is the origin story for a lot of characters. From Bucky Barnes to Jessica Drew to Bob the Hydra Agent, earthbound evil creates a number of heroes and villains that could stretch to cosmic reaches and beyond. Let’s have them unite with the Kreel let’s have them attempt to control the mutants; let’s make them a powerhouse in the MCU.

The 10 Rings offers an earthbound evil – something the MCU needs.

The biggest evil surprise of the Falcon and Winter Soldier announcement was the appearance of Helmut Zemo, the villain from Captain America: Civil War. Zemo managed to beat a superhero team down and alter the world as everyone knew it by causing the development of the Sokovia Accords – the agreement that required superheroes to register and was the source of the divide between Captain America and Iron Man. 

Where and how Zemo returns to the superhero stage is still a mystery. But he’s back and, as illustrated, the 10 Rings have been moving behind the scenes for most of the recent MCU movies. It’s very possible that the 10 Rings will be taking HYDRA’s place in the MCU. Zemo was never explicitly declared as HYDRA in the films. Letting that organization’s death in Captain America: The Winter Soldier and Agents of SHIELD be how it ended would give the 10 Rings a chance to mine them for information and exploit previous HYDRA projects without any of those unusual associations.

Simu Liu has the charisma of Chris Evans and the MCU is setting him up for something big.

Simu Liu has become the internet’s newest sensation ever since his casting announcement at Comic Con. The Kim’s Convenience actor is humble, down to earth, and poised to take the MCU by storm. He’s got enough energy to take on Chris Evans, and truth be told, his story presents a similar sort of Captain America vibe. Sam Wilson is heir to the Shield, but we submit that the MCU is setting up Shang -Chi to be a big part of Phases 4, 5, and 6. 

It adds up when you consider the impact that the 10 Rings have had on the MCU so far. Rather than tell one specific story, it seems as if the MCU is attempting to top the Infinity Saga by telling two different stories at the same time: the cosmic MCU and the Earthbound MCU. The cosmic MCU is shaping up to consist of Captain Marvel, Black Panther, and possibly the Ultimates.

If the MCU is going to introduce a new team, who’s to say it can’t introduce Falcon as Captain America, Bucky Barnes as the Winter Soldier, and Shang-Chi? The three of them would make an excellent trinity of heroes battling earthbound and cosmic forces alike. Teaming him up with Sebastian Stan and Anthony Mackie would make for a heck of a collaboration. Like Steve, he would have his own enemy while still leading a team where the three of them battle the new source of earthbound bad guys for the MCU.

Whatever Marvel has in store for Shang-Chi , one thing’s for sure: he’ll be an integral part of the MCU at large. He could play any role at this point, but involving Shang-Chi with the “earthbound” heroic team and making him an Avenger would be a great way to not only add a powerful hero – but a potentially limitless rogues gallery. One that Bucky Barnes, Sam Wilson, and Shang-Chi could easily take on.

What do you think of the 10 Rings Organization in the MCU? Share your thoughts with us in the comments below!

Shang-Chi: Legend of the 10 Rings hits theaters February 12 2021

Falcon and the Winter Soldier arrives on Disney + 2020

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