Over the years, I’ve grown to appreciate and love Shane Black’s Iron Man 3 for its unique vision. It’s one of the wittiest Marvel Cinematic Universe films to date and has some excellent character exploration to go with it. However, I also understand the frustration fans felt, heck, still feel to this day because of Shane Black and co-screenwriter Drew Pearce’s treatment of the iconic Iron Man comic book villain, The Mandarin. In a plot twist, The Mandarin was revealed to be nothing but a comical drunken actor named Trevor Slattery (Ben Kingsley).
After massive backlash from fans, Marvel Studios released a short film titled All Hail the King which revealed that the “real Mandarin” is still out there. Since then, fans have eagerly anticipated the introduction of this popular villain. After years of waiting, it looks like we will finally be getting a proper version of The Mandarin as the main villain in Shang-Chi and the Legends of the Ten Rings. In an interview with Cinemablend, writer Drew Pearce mentioned that a number of modern interpretations of The Mandarin could be done well in the MCU, especially since Shang-Chi is being helmed by an Asian director.
“You know, and there are modern interpretations of The Mandarin that I think can work in the context of, particularly of a Marvel movie that has a much more grounded basis in Asian culture and has, frankly, Asian filmmakers and other Asian actors in its ensemble, and driving the story.
In our Iron Man movie, as you and everyone else knows, it was my feeling that if we did The Mandarin in many of the forms that he is most commonly known as, we were playing into the racial stereotypes that generated the character in the beginning. Yellow peril, you know. … That idea was what inspired our take on the Mandarin.”
In the same interview, Drew Pearce also mentioned that when he penned the script for All Hail the King, he made it very clear that The Mandarin was an ancient mantle. The villainous Aldrich Killian (Guy Pearce) made the mistake of using that ‘mantle’ thinking that it’s nothing but a fictional entity. It’s going to be really really cool to see the proper terrifying form of The Mandarin when Shang-Chi hits the big screen, especially if they cast a big name dramatic actor to play the role.
But if there is one issue, it’s that in the comics, The Mandarin is tied to the Iron Man character, the way Joker is to Batman. Since Tony Stark died in the MCU after his noble sacrifice in Avengers: Endgame, The Mandarin is being introduced in Shang-Chi. So what will happen to the seeds previously planted in Iron Man 3 and All Hail the King? Drew Pearce doesn’t know for sure as well.
“I’ve also spoken to some of my friends at Marvel and of course I don’t know exactly what happens, but there’s a strong sense that everything will be revealed and nothing is being retconned. And that, at the end of the day, is all we can ask for. That, and the fact that, you know, they clearly think it’s going to be — he’s going to be the best adversary. And I trust in Marvel. In Marvel, we trust.”
Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings is set to be released in February 2021.