TV & Movies

What To Know About Ta Lo, Shang-Chi’s Ethereal Realm

The latest Marvel film features a curious and elusive locale.

Actors Tony Leung and Fala Chen in 'Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings.'
©Marvel Studios 2021

Marvel StudiosShang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings is filled to its brim with extravagant battle sequences, which take place around the world — and beyond. The climactic scenes are set in Ta Lo, an ethereal yet elusive realm that’s sought by many but reached by very few. Spoilers for Shang-Chi follow.

In the film, we learn that Shang-Chi’s parents — Wenwu (Tony Leung), aka “The Mandarin,” and Jiang Li (Fala Chen) — first met in battle. By that time, Wenwu had wielded the Ten Rings (a set of otherworldly rings, worn with five on each arm) for 1,000-odd years. The rings grant him superhuman strength and immortality, which he’s used to defeat every opponent he’s ever faced — until he faces Jiang Li, a resident and protector of Ta Lo. Wenwu seeks to visit Ta Lo, hoping its secrets can further augment his powers, but Jiang Li successfully prevents him from infiltrating her home. Unexpectedly, however, she finds herself falling for her adversary. Jiang Li leaves Ta Lo for Wenwu, and the two marry and start a family.

Decades later, their children find themselves pulled back to their mother’s homeland, hoping to stop their misguided father from harming its inhabitants. But what exactly is so special about Ta Lo, and why is it guarded so heavily by its people? Below, everything to know about the magical realm.

Ta Lo is described as a “realm.”

In the film, the realm of Ta Lo isn’t easily accessible by those who seek it — unless you have razor-sharp reflexes. The entrance is hidden by an ever-changing maze, and its residents also ensure that those deemed unworthy are kept out.

In the comics, Ta Lo is one of the “God Realms,” and is home to the godlike Xian people. (The Marvel Cinematic Universe has already featured another God Realm: Asgard, home to the Norse gods and the Asgardian people.) For thousands of years, its inhabitants have fiercely protected their land and shielded Ta Lo from outsiders.

Ta Lo is home to many magical creatures, including two cardinal dragons.

Shang-Chi shows several otherworldly beings that call Ta Lo home, but two in particular stand out: a dragon known as the Great Protector, and a villainous invader known as the Dweller in Darkness. The Great Protector guards the realm, ensuring that the Dweller in Darkness and its pterodactyl-like minions, which have the power to destroy Ta Lo, are locked behind a barrier called the Dark Gate. It’s understood that Ta Lo was once a much larger world, but the Dweller in Darkness destroyed almost all of it before the Great Protector could stop it.

The source of inspiration for the Great Protector isn’t clear, but the Dweller in Darkness closely resembles Fin Fang Foom from the comics.

Boys and girls are trained as equals.

What sets Ta Lo apart from, let’s say Wenwu’s army, is that both men and women are trained as fighters. Shang-Chi’s aunt Jiang Nan (Michelle Yeoh) explains that all young inhabitants are expected to protect their realm from the Dweller in Darkness, regardless of gender. This gives them twice as many warriors to defend their land.