Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings is the first original MCU film to premiere in what feels like forever. This has led many to speculate as to when the movie takes place within the MCU timeline. However, because Disney has intentionally kept fans in the dark, no one has really had any idea - until now.
Shang-Chi is not going to be set in the past
In an interview with Fandango, Shang-Chi director Destin Daniel Cretton explained that the film is set "in the present day in the MCU timeline". When asked if this means that the movie is set in "post-Blip, present day", the director answered simply by saying, "Yeah, yeah."
So, if you're expecting Shang-Chi to take place either in the past or pre-Infinity War, then we've got some bad news for you.
However, this isn't exactly a problem. If anything, it opens Shang-Chi up to an entire world of possibility.
Because it doesn't have to worry about retconning anything, it can explore the past, present, and even the future of the MCU. Case in point, the timeline allows the movie to take advantage of what happened to the Ten Rings organization following The Snap and the results of The Blip.
With half of the world's population gone just like that, the Ten Rings organization had the opportunity to seize power in a lawless world. The Mandarin's terrorist group might have benefitted the most from the results of the catastrophic event.
If The Snap didn't take out either The Mandarin or Shang-Chi, the upcoming MCU movie has the ideal set-up as well. Of course, this is all speculation and we recommend that you take everything that we just said with a grain of salt.
Having said that, fans don't have to wait too long to find out how Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings will fit into phase 4 of the MCU - the film is scheduled to premiere on September 3, 2021.
Speaking of Shang-Chi, what is perhaps the most interesting part about the MCU movie is Disney's theater-only release. The sudden decision to shift its release strategy comes just weeks after Disney decided to release Black Widow both in theaters and on Disney+ Premiere, which resulted in a lawsuit from Scarlett Johansson and subsequent ongoing legal battle between the two parties.