Warning: Contains SPOILERS for Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings.
Where exactly where the Avengers during the events of Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings? The MCU’s 25th movie, and its first Asian-led film, Shang-Chi is very much the real beginning of Phase 4’s movies. It introduces key new characters and worlds, setting up elements that will likely come back into play in several upcoming Marvel movies.
Shang-Chi‘s story largely stands alone, save for references to Iron Man 3 and a couple of cameos (most notably Wong and Abomination in the film proper), but it does raise questions about the Avengers. With the Dweller-in-Darkness emerging as a threat not only to Ta Lo but the fate of the main MCU dimension as well, then there’s again a major force that the Avengers would be handy for dealing with, not to mention the danger the Ten Rings present. Similarly, the presence of Wong at key moments in the movie leads to discussion where Doctor Strange is during Shang-Chi, and with that where other members of the team are.
Firstly, there’s Shang-Chi‘s timeline to consider, which places the movie after Avengers: Endgame, although it doesn’t specific exactly how long it’s been. At the very least, that means Iron Man and Black Widow are both dead by this point, while Captain America is missing too (whether in hiding, back in an alternate timeline, having passed away, or, as some believe, on the moon). Scarlet Witch could still be in isolation by this point following WandaVision‘s post-credits, Hawkeye’s show could reveal what happened to Clint Barton, and Thor is presumably still off with the Guardians of the Galaxy. The Falcon & The Winter Soldier revealed its eponymous heroes were doing their own thing, though again it’s unclear if this is before or after that, but it’s likely in a similar, rough ballpark timeline wise.
However, Shang-Chi‘s mid-credits scene does reveal at least two Avengers, with the appearance of Bruce Banner (notably no longer Smart Hulk) and Captain Marvel. It stops short of revealing too much, but it’s not an unreasonable assumption that Banner’s transformation will be explained in She-Hulk, and that Carol Danvers’ emergency sets up The Marvels. In terms of what they’ve been doing prior to Shang-Chi‘s credits, then at least some of it has been spent examining the Ten Rings, which it’s said aren’t vibranium nor any recognizable alien tech. This does confirm that some form of Avengers team is still active, albeit it’s more like the version led by Black Widow in Endgame, with some scattered updates and communications rather than seeming like a fully functional unit right now.
The recurring presence of Wong in Shang-Chi also suggests he too may now be an Avenger, since he’s working closely with Bruce and Carol and is the one bringing Shang-Chi and Katy into the fold. If so, then it explains the whereabouts of one Avenger, with Wong spending his spare time fighting Abomination, and also looking into the Ten Rings. As for where Doctor Strange is at this point, that’s also left deliberately vague: he could be with Spider-Man, with Scarlet Witch, or in some other kind of multiversal madness. It’s also worth noting that much of Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings‘ biggest events happen in an alternate dimension. Since they’re not actually on Earth, then the planet’s Mightiest Heroes presumably aren’t aware of what’s happening on Ta Lo, only being alerted when the Ten Rings begin sending a beacon that reaches Kamar-Taj.
Even if Wong isn’t an official member of the team just yet, there is one Avenger in the movie prior to its mid-credits cameos, and that’s the eponymous character himself. Marvel has referred to Shang-Chi as “a new Avenger,” which likely means he is now supposed to be considered a true part of the roster. That bodes well for his future, with plenty of places he could appear after Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings, including a possible Shang-Chi 2, Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, and Avengers 5 whenever it happens.