The Marvel Cinematic Universe’s Phase 4 is introducing new characters and continuing the stories of already established heroes, and one character who is appearing in various projects — both with new and old heroes — is Wong (Benedict Wong) suggesting he will be this phase’s Phil Coulson (Clark Gregg). The MCU’s first three phases, collectively known as the Infinity Saga, came to an end with Spider-Man: Far From Home, which took place after the events of Avengers: Infinity War and Avengers: Endgame, so now this universe is ready to move forward. Phase 4 has thus far covered both TV shows and movies, further expanding this connected universe, and it seems Wong is the one character who is bringing various projects together, including Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings.
Up to his death in The Avengers, which ultimately led him to star in Agents of SHIELD, Phil Coulson was Director Nick Fury’s (Samuel L. Jackson) right-hand man, appearing in several MCU films to aid in various missions, including a role in Thor. Given that the MCU is a connected universe, characters from one trilogy appear in others without a problem, but these friendly visits seem to have been gaining momentum in recent years. Phase 4 carries on this tradition, albeit with new characters, with Thor being joined by the Guardians of the Galaxy in Thor: Love and Thunder and Doctor Strange showing up in Spider-Man: No Way Home. However, Doctor Strange’s Wong is so far the one supporting character that will appear in very different scenarios from what viewers are used to seeing him in, who appeared in Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings, and will appear in Spider-Man: No Way Home, and Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness.
Wong is a Master of the Mystic Arts and was the keeper of all the books at Kamar-Taj when Stephen Strange arrived, assisting him in his studies whenever he could. Wong joined Strange and Karl Mordo (Chiwetel Ejiofor) in defending Earth from the Dark Dimension, and after Kaecilius’ (Mads Mikkelsen) defeat at the end of Doctor Strange, he joined Strange in protecting the Sanctum Sanctorum in New York. Wong returned in Avengers: Infinity War and Avengers: Endgame, where he fought alongside Strange and Tony Stark when Ebony Maw and Cull Obsidian arrived, and as he was one of the fallen heroes after Thanos’ snap, he returned in Endgame to join the Battle of Earth. Now, Wong is set to appear in movies that don’t involve team-ups, giving him a similar role to that of Phil Coulson in Phase 1. In Shang-Chi, Wong first showed up battling Abomination in Xialing’s underground fight club before opening a portal back to New York City after winning. Wong later played a more crucial role in the film’s mid-credits scene that saw him, Captain Marvel, and Bruce Banner trying to figure out what (or who) the beacon inside the Ten Rings was calling to.
Coulson was one of Nick Fury’s best SHIELD agents. Coulson appeared in Iron Man, Iron Man 2, Thor, and The Avengers (and later in Captain Marvel as it’s set in the 1990s, but was still a part of Phase 3), before being killed by Loki in the first Avengers movie, which served as the push the heroes needed to properly team up and defeat the trickster god and the Chitauri army. Coulson, especially as a non-superhero, served as a sort of guide for the audience and the “glue” to many of the big films in Phase 1, and Wong seems to be following those steps. Wong, like Coulson, is a somewhat neutral figure, and with him appearing in two movies outside the Doctor Strange world, he might be the one who brings them all together. His role in Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings is already alluding to his being the link between the films in Phase 4 and the overarching plot connecting them together.
While it’s unclear what his role in Spider-Man: No Way Home will consist of (he’s seen leaving Doctor Strange’s mansion and warning him not to do anything irresponsible), Shang-Chi has already set the stage for him to play a much bigger role in the MCU’s future. It’s to be seen if Wong will appear in other upcoming MCU projects beyond Phase 4, but here’s hoping he won’t have a tragic and violent end like Phil Coulson had.