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For the past week Marvel has been teasing the release of the first trailer for Iron Man 3, and the strategy seems to have worked since it's now all anyone can talk about. Of course, it doesn't hurt that the footage itself was also fantastic, offering up endless things to discuss from writer-director Shane Black's darker tone to the vocal theatrics of Sir Ben Kingsley as the main villain Mandarin.
Kingsley's voice is something, I hear a southern drawl (and saw someone on twitter mention Reverend Lovejoy from The Simpsons), but let's not forget his looks since he could also comfortably pass as one of the 13 dwarves in Peter Jackson's The Hobbit. Hm. Rings do feature prominently in both stories, maybe a crossover? Nitpicking aside, his overall appearance, which I'm sure I'll find less comical in context, is perhaps not as interesting as one specific physical feature prominently displayed in the trailer. First spotted by our pal Da7e Gonzales, it seems Mandarin is sporting some rather interesting ink. Check out the neck tattoo...
Looks an awful lot like Captain America's shield with the Avengers' 'A' in the center. Could Mandarin's history somehow overlap with Cap's? Or lead into the upcoming sequel The Winter Soldier? Perhaps he has a history with Nick Fury in a previous incarnation of the initiative? But then why would he be coming after Tony and not the either of the other heroes? He is obsessed with technology, so Mr. Stark might just be the first step in his master plan, accumulating the firepower needed to go after the bigger fish. Some are speculating that the 'A' actually looks more like the Anarchy symbol, which would probably fit better with his character but not within the center of the red and blue rings. Speaking of rings...
You can also see that he's not wearing the Ten Rings of Power in either of the shots that show the tattoo, which could simply mean he doesn't have them yet or, another theory, that it isn't actually him at all. But if it isn't Mandarin, then who is it? It's worth noting that in the 70s, Mandarin's minions in the comics became known as his 'Avengers' or 'Avatars' so that could be one of his branded cronies. Others think it's Tony in disguise and, if you look closely, the person is wearing some kind of headpiece (or glasses) similar to the thing he's wearing while talking to Pepper. At this point I'm just going to assume it's Mandarin and he's got a hard on for the Avengers after the events of New York.