Arguably, Iron Man 3 is the most divisive product from the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Apart from the fact that the 2013 comic book techno-thriller from Shane Black gained outstanding attention from critics as well as box office, it formed an essential aspect in the personal arc of Tony Stark from Robert Downey Jr. Nevertheless, a significant level of dislike was shown by fans. The hostility was believed to materialize from the manner in which Marvel used Mandarin.
In 1964, the Mandarin was co-developed by Stan Lee and Don Heck. However, in the Iron Man comics, the character was presented as one of the superhero’s arch-nemesis. The Mandarin’s lust for domination was passed down to him from his progenitor called Gengis Khan. Hence, during his time, he decided to dominate by using his super intellect combined with his ten magical rings, which was a rebranded alien technology retrieved from crashed aircraft. Also, the presentation of the Mandarin as a moving collection of poor Asian stereotypes as well as caricatures, became a problem.
However, in Iron Man 3, Marvel tried to address the issue by featuring Sir Ben Kingsley as the Mandarin as well as rebranding the character as an impressive crime specialist, who handled the Ten Rings terrorist group that was previously mentioned during the first Iron Man movie. Also, in the film, Mandarin was presented as a mixed-race personality with a combination of Asian and Middle-Eastern attributes – just that he possesses none of it in reality.
In an amazing, yet, hilarious turn of event, Kingsley’s Mandarin turned out to be a drunk British actor known as Trevor Slattery. Trevor Slattery was hired by Adrian Killian to use flashy attractions to cover his criminal activities.
Nevertheless, there was a divisive opinion among the fans concerning how things turn out. While one group considers the way Marvel reveals the truth as brilliant and entertaining, others see it as a punchline in a gag. However, Marvel gave the fans a consolation through a short film titled All Hail the King which was added to the Thor: The Dark World, where Slattery became a prisoner in Seagate prison but lived a luxurious life as a result of other inmates’ false assumption regarding his infamy. But, eventually, Slattery made it out of prison with the help of a man who showed himself as one of the real Ten Rings. Also, the same man told the actor that the true Mandarin is unhappy with his name being used by Slattery.
Afterward, nothing more was revealed until recently when Kevin Feige (the Marvel Studios boss) engaged Ask Me Anything (AMA) on Reddit. Among the several questioners, who focused on phase 4 of the MCU, one of the Redditors (named GentlemanGearGrinder) asked if Marvel plans to use the Ten Rings of the first Iron Man or the true Mandarin of “All Hail the King” in their subsequent project. Surprisingly, the Marvel studio boss gave an affirmative answer.
In truth, Feige had always revealed that much in the past. For instance, when All Hail the King was released, Feige informed IGN movies that people have spoken a lot about the true Mandarin, and as a result, the studio has decided to do it based on the writings and directing of Drew Pearce. He further revealed that because they are doing one thing doesn’t mean another thing does not exist; and that during the making of Iron Man 3, it has always been their intention to present Aldrich Killian as perverting the ideas which he has heard of.
AVENGERS: ENDGAME SPOILER WARNING
In Avengers: Endgame, with the way the story of Iron Man ended, the inclusion of the true Mandarin in the MCU may not be possible in an Iron Man sequel despite the strong connection between the two. However, the only other alternative for Marvel is to present Fu Manchu (the same poor Asian caricature on which the Mandarin was based) as the true villain of the impending Shang-Chi solo film instead of the other Mandarin. The updated appearance and functions of Mandarin from the contemporary Iron Man comics would fit expertly into the updated backstory of the Shang Chi. Most people would be surprised if this is not the case eventually.
In the meantime, endeavor to check Feige’s complete performance in AMA. Even though he didn’t disclose any other top secrets, you will get to know about some interesting facts, like what Marvel is planning for the next half-decade.