In Marvel Comics, The Mandarin was a Fu Manchu-inspired supervillain. He’s a genius scientist, superhumanly skilled martial artist, and decked out with ten rings made from alien tech imbuing him with power.
In the Marvel Cinematic Universe, he was introduced in “Iron Man 3” originally as a bin Laden-esque leader and head of the terrorist organisation ‘The Ten Rings’ which were featured in the first “Iron Man” (though his name wasn’t mentioned then). Of course, Shane Black’s film ended up revealing in a twist that he was a drug-addicted hammy British actor and puppet figurehead created by one of Tony Stark’s rivals.
That surprise twist was a delight to some and a slap in the face others who hold it against that film and Marvel to this day. The one-shot short film “All Hail the King” revealed that there is a real Mandarin in the MCU and then the other week came the news that Tony Leung will be playing said character who serves as the main villain of “Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings”.
Drew Pearce, who wrote “Iron Man 3” and is doing press rounds for “Fast and Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw” this week, has spoken with Cinema Blend about that reveal and says he couldn’t be more excited about the real The Mandarin finally being introduced and offered his thoughts on how the character could and should be handled:
“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.”
Pearce says he made it clear that The Mandarin is an ‘ancient mantle’ that can be passed down and that Iron Man 3’s Aldrich Killian (Guy Pearce) co-opted it for his own purposes, mistakenly thinking The Mandarin was a fictional entity. With Killian and Stark both dead, he says he doesn’t expect any retconning of his “Iron Man 3” work to take place:
“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.”
Simu Liu will play Shang-Chi himself in the film which also stars Awkwafina. Destin Daniel Cretton helms the project which will shoot in the first half of 2020 in Sydney, Australia ahead of a February 12th 2021 release.