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One of the greatest surprises the summer had to offer was the twist involving The Mandarin's origin in Marvel's Iron Man 3. But even though Tony Stark defeated the baddies, it seems Ben Kingsley's work as Trevor "The Mandarin" Slattery isn't done just yet! Speaking with The Belfast Telegraph , (via Coming Soon), Kingsley revealed he's reteamed with Marvel and much of the Iron Man 3 crew for a "secret project." He explained:
"It's a secret Marvel project. I'm not allowed to say any more, you're going to have to wait and see… I was with many members of the crew that were involved in Iron Man 3. It was lovely to see them again. It was great to be with this wonderful family…I think they have enormous taste as creative artists. There's nothing lazy or gratuitous about their work. They are at the top of their game, and they're great company to keep."
What could this mean for the fast-expanding Marvel movie universe? Well, to discuss the possibilities, we're going to have to get into spoilers for Iron Man 3. So if you somehow haven't yet seen the movie that has grossed more than $1.2 billion worldwide, you probably should stop reading now.
Okay, so in the third installment of the Tony Stark-centered franchise, our titular superhero was facing off against a notorious terrorist called The Mandarin, whose cryptic messages took credit for explosions that caused civilian causalities, and included promises of more mayhem to come. But after struggling through crippling self doubt, the self-proclaimed genius, billionaire, playboy, philanthropist suited up and came face to face with this unholy terror…only to discover The Mandarin was just a cowardly and morally bankrupt actor named Trevor Slattery, serving as a front for a far more insidious foe. By movie's end, Slattery was arrested--presumably as an accomplice to crimes including murder and treason--but what could be up to now?
While some out there might leap to the conclusion that Kingsley is hinting at plans for Iron Man 4 that seems unlikely - mostly because the English Academy Award-winner is an old pro, and probably knows better than to leak info about a project that big. And though Robert Downey Jr. has signed on for both Avengers 2 and 3, there's no firm word that Iron Man 4 is yet in the cards. It could be possible Slattery/The Mandarin will pop up on the Avengers spinoff series The Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D, which recently had Samuel L. Jackson reprise his role of Nick Fury in a surprise cameo. But it's highly doubtful, as the show is far from a "secret project."
The most likely options boil down to two by our count. One is that Kingsley will appear in an end credits scene in an upcoming Marvel movie, possibly in a comical note as Mark Ruffalo's Bruce Banner did at the very end of Iron Man 3. The other possibility - and the one that could be the most intriguing - is that Kingsley's secret project is another Marvel One-Shot short, like "The Consultant," "Agent Carter," and "Item 47." These short films basically allow the studio to flesh out their film worlds with smaller stories, and serve as a sort of bonus gift for fans hungry for Marvel's next movie. Basically, these One-Shots could prove a perfect venue to have more fun with the decidedly bonkers character of Trevor Slattery. Maybe the US government or S.H.I.E.L.D. will co-opt him as a front that can work to their advantage? Or he could be chatty cellmate to another vanquished villain?
Sadly, Marvel producer Kevin Feige is keeping mum on this secret project for now. So all we can do is speculate. Feel free to share your guesses below in comments.