Now that the real Mandarin will officially make his debut in Shang Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings, it would be fitting for his fake counterpart, Trevor Slattery, to also make an appearance in the film. Marvel Studios made their triumphant return to San Diego Comic Con after skipping last year to lay out their post Avengers: Endgame plans – including pertinent details about Destin Daniel Cretton’s take on Shang-Chi. Simu Liu will play Shang-Chi while legendary Chinese actor Tony Leung will portray the real Mandarin.
The Mandarin has been lurking in the MCU shadows longer than Thanos (Josh Brolin). He is the leader of the terrorist group Ten Rings, which Obadiah Stane (Jeff Bridges) commissioned to abduct and ultimately kill Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) in the first Iron Man movie. The group also aided Ivan Vanko (Mickey Rourke) as he sought revenge on Stark in Iron Man 2. So when Iron Man 3 teased of the eventual reveal of the mysterious warlord, everyone bought it. Comic book readers, in particular, were stoked considering the famous rivalry between Iron Man and the Mandarin in print. But in one of the most controversial plot twists in the franchise, Stark was pit up against a fake version of the character. It turned out, the primary villain of Iron Man 3, Aldrich Killian (Guy Pearce), hired a struggling actor named Trevor Slattery to be the face of the feared terrorist.
As revealed in the Marvel One-Shot, All Hail The King, however, there’s actually real Mandarin, and he’s not thrilled with Slattery robbing him of his name. During an interview session with Jackson Norriss (Scoot McNairy), a Ten Rings operative posing as a journalist, Slattery was abducted with he promise that he’ll see the real Mandarin. It’s been five years since that canon clip debuted, and we still don’t know how that meeting went down.
The One-Shot was obviously a set-up for the eventual introduction of the real Mandarin. So, in light of his upcoming debut in Shang-Chi, it makes sense that we finally find out about Slattery’s fate. The babbling British actor hasn’t been seen since All Hail The King, and what better way to effectively establish Leung’s Mandarin in the MCU than by seeing him ruthlessly kill Slattery shortly after their introduction. This efficiently links the villain to the established lore, and for a franchise that prides itself for interconnectivity, this does wonders for their ever-evolving universe.
At this point, it’s still uncertain how the Mandarin fits into Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings; all we know is that he’ll play the primary antagonist of the film. Marvel Studios typically gets rid of their standalone villains after a single outing, despite how well-crafted some of them are – case in point: Black Panther‘s Erik Killmonger (Michael B. Jordan) and Spider-Man: Far From Home‘s Quentin Beck/Mysterio (Jake Gyllenhaal). Taking this into consideration, there’s a chance that the real Mandarin will eventually fall into that growing pile of one-and-done bad guys, and worse, become a bigger let down than those who have come before him.
That being said, no antagonist has had as much set-up as the Mandarin does in the MCU without any screen time thus far. Over the years, before his Avengers: Infinity War debut, we’ve seen Thanos a handful of times via few post-credit scenes and glorified cameos, and yet we have never seen the real Mandarin. This already sets him apart from his predecessors. His ties to Iron Man’s overall story makes him an important piece of the MCU lore, which emphasizes Marvel’s “it’s all connected” slogan. Given all this, it’s not outside the realm of possibility that he’ll be a recurring player in the universe, so it’s very important that Marvel Studios nails his introduction once he finally comes out of the shadows in Shangi-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings.
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