The marketing for Iron Man 3 promised the introduction of The Mandarin, leader of the terror syndicate The Ten Rings and Iron Man nemesis, into the Marvel Cinematic Universe and portrayed by Academy Award-winner Ben Kingsley no less.
Director Shane Black threw moviegoers for a loop during the actual film when it was revealed that Ben Kingsley’s character was not the true Mandarin, but a washed-up actor by the name of Trevor Slattery hired to impersonate the Mandarin for propaganda videos meant to drum up fear so that Aldrich Killian, a disgruntled arms dealer, could drive up the demand of his enhanced bio-weapons.
This twist left a sour taste in the mouths of a lot of comic book fanatics, but left open the possibility for the Mandarin and his Ten Rings to make a legitimate appearance somewhere down the line. Then, in the short 2014 follow-up titled All Hail the King, Kingsley’s character is busted out of prison by a small militia we’re told works for the real Mandarin, who hasn’t taken too kindly to the actor’s impersonation.
Since then, the Mandarin’s MCU trail has gone cold and there’s been no word on when or if he’ll strike again. At least until now. During a Reddit AMA (Ask Me Anything) last week, Marvel Studios President Kevin Feige was asked if there were any future plans for the Mandarin and his terrorist troupe. Feige replied with one simple word. “Yes.” It’s not a detailed answer to be sure, but it is a solid confirmation, which is something Kevin Feige rarely gives up.
The idea of getting to meet the real Mandarin in the MCU is an exciting one, but it’s also one that brings up plenty of questions. Chiefly, where would the Mandarin fit in? In the comics, he’s most commonly associated with Iron Man. With the MCU’s Iron Man now dead following the events of Avengers: Endgame, who could face off against the Ten Rings?
One possibility is the upcoming Shang-Chi film. If the MCU’s Mandarin is Chinese like he is in the books, then facing off against Shang-Chi could make the most sense. The two already share a similar cultural heritage and their backstories could easily be tweaked to more closely tie them together if need be.
Another possibility is Iron Man. Stay with me here. Whether Tony Stark proper somehow gets resurrected (it wouldn’t be out of place in the established MCU) or someone new takes up the mantle, there is still a real possibility that Iron Man is the one who squares off against his old foe. At least this would fall in line with how the MCU has handled their villains up to this point, which is by pitting them against the hero they face the most in the comics.
Either way, there’s no telling for sure how the real Mandarin will factor into the currently existing MCU. Only time will be able to tell. However, one thing is for sure: this time we’ll see him coming.
What do you think about finally getting to meet the true Mandarin in the MCU after all these years? Is it something you’re interested in? And which hero could he fight? Jump down to the comments below and let me know your thoughts!