What Is Shang-Chi's Ta Lo And Where Does It Fit Into The MCU?

Is Ta Lo another reality? Another world? A different dimension? Director Destin Daniel Cretton weighs in.

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With Phase 4 officially kicking off, the MCU is looking a little different. For one, there's officially an active multiverse now, thanks to Loki and Sylvie taking out He Who Remains over on Disney+. Of course, given the entirely esoteric nature of time and the universe within Marvel in general, it's extremely difficult to pin down exactly what this means and how it affects things moving forward. For instance, is the multiverse retroactive? Is the flow of time strictly linear or was that also messed up in the chaos of the branching timelines? What exactly constitutes an alternate reality and how do you differentiate them from something like the Quantum Realm or an alternate dimension?

Of course, there are a lot of extremely comic book semantics at play here and the answers, if they come at all, are likely going to be doled out in pieces. We've already got some hints of what might be on the horizon with the new Spider-Man: No Way Home trailer, which teased a Doctor Strange spell going awry and causing all sorts of reality warping. And then there are characters like Wanda who were recently revealed to have extremely potent chaos magic powers. There are definitely big things on the horizon, even if that horizon is vaguely defined.

But as things stand right now, we have Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings, which, while avoiding any direct nods to the Disney+ TV show roster, introduces a handful of new concepts to the MCU that may or may not become very important in the future--and may or may not tie into some concepts we're just beginning to learn. Most important of the bunch is the existence of Ta Lo, a mystical realm where Shang-Chi and Xialing's mother came from, separated from the real world by a supernaturally shifting bamboo maze.

Ta Lo is home to humans--or at least human-looking people--who are aware of, but cut off from, the happenings of the "regular" world. It's also home to any number of magical creatures, from dragons to nine tailed foxes. Ta Lo seems like the sort of place you'd find in a fantasy novel. More than once, Ta Lo is called a different "reality" or a different "world." In the comics, Ta Lo was a briefly visited realm in the Thor comics, back in 1980, where it was roughly analogous to Asgard in that it was home to the gods of Chinese mythology, but the movie gave us no indication that the people who lived in Ta Lo were actually mythical themselves.

All of this begs the question--what exactly is the cinematic version of Ta Lo and where does it fit into the MCU's expanding cosmos? Should we think of it more like Asgard or Kamar-Taj or as something else entirely? GameSpot sat down to ask writer/director Destin Daniel Cretton just that.

"That's a great question--and honestly, I think that's something much more fun to debate than to answer right now," he teased. "The one thing to remember is that Ta Lo is not confined to the little village that we see [in the movie]. Ta Lo is a big world in and of itself, which is a fun place to imagine exploring in the future."

Of course, Cretton was unable to confirm whether or not there were any plans to do said exploration on the docket just yet--but the hope is certainly there. And, regardless of whether or not Ta Lo's existence is ever solidified, there seems to be plenty of potential for new stories to crop up from its mythology--after all, there are literal dragons in the MCU now, and cuddly little faceless chicken cats, and they're all just a quick (and dangerous) trip through a lethal maze away.

Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings is in theaters now.

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