It feels like only yesterday that the Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings trailer dropped, revealing that The Incredible Hulk antagonist Abomination would be making a surprise appearance in the film. And yet, another MCU antagonist was revealed to be returning in the film as well — and it's not who you'd expect.
References to terrorist leader The Mandarin go back to the original Iron Man, way back in 2008. Speculation abounded until 2013, when Shane Black's Iron Man 3 promised to finally bring the comic-book villain to the big screen — only to reveal that it was actually a comedic role. Ben Kingsley portrayed Trevor Slattery, a zesty washed-up English actor who was hired by Aldrich Killian (Guy Pearce) to portray a fictional terrorist. Though Slattery was, in reality, addicted to drugs and completely incompetent, his Mandarin performance provided a useful scapegoat for Killian's explosive crimes.
This reveal proved controversial, with fans divided about whether the twist wasted a potentially terrifying Mandarin or cleverly subverted the traditional superhero narrative. Marvel felt confident enough in the character to bring him back for a short film, All Hail the King, in 2014, where it was revealed that there was a real Mandarin who wanted to punish Slattery for his impersonation.
Today, things have come full circle: Ben Kingsley appeared at Monday's red carpet premiere for Shang-Chi, where he revealed that his character makes an appearance in the film. He remained vague about the details, but expressed great enthusiasm about his role in the movie:
""As you just saw, I was talking to Kevin Feige, and thanks to Kevin and Robert Downey Jr. and Drew Pearce and Shane Black, I am in this movie and I'm a member of the Marvel family, because their welcome on Iron Man 3 was so astonishing and generous that I'm still with Marvel again. And I'm delighted to be here!"
It seems as though audiences will finally be introduced to the true Mandarin (played by Tony Leung, who also starred in Hero and Chungking Express), though how Slattery fits into things is still a mystery. Shang-Chi releases in theaters on September 3rd, 2021.
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