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Iron Man 3 came out three years ago, but it seems like just yesterday that comic book fans were raging online that Ben Kingsley’s Mandarin wasn’t the formidable villain he was made out to be in the trailers, but just an idiotic actor hired to play the terrorist. Almost a year after the movie came out, Marvel released All Hail the King, which revealed that there was a real Mandarin somewhere in the MCU. While on the surface it may seem like this was always the plan, according to Iron Man 3 director Shane Black, the short film was created as a way to temper the backlash.
During an interview with Uproxx, Black mentioned that All Hail the King was made simply to apologize to fans who were upset about how Mandarin was adapted in Iron Man 3. He said:
Marvel saw so many negative things they made a whole other movie just to apologize called Hail to the King. In which they said, 'No, no, the Mandarin is still alive. That wasn’t him. There’s a real Mandarin.' The only reason they made that was an apology to fans who were so angry.
Throughout Iron Man 3’s previews and marketing, Ben Kingsley’s Mandarin was portrayed as the primary antagonist. He was cunning, sinister and looked like he would give Tony Star his toughest, non-arc reactor-related threat yet. In actuality, this man was Trevor Slattery a washed-up actor hired by Aldrich Killian, creator of the Extremis virus and the movie’s true main antagonist, to play the Mandarin for the masses and spew propaganda while Killian’s group, A.I.M., operated. In the movie’s climactic battle, Killian declared himself the Mandarin, but aside from dragon tattoos on his chest, there wasn’t anything remotely Mandarin about him. Following that, moviegoers were left to believe that the Mandarin was simply a legendary figure that Killian used for his own purposes.
Then came All Hail the King, which caught up with Trevor Slattery in Seagate Prison as he was interviewed for a documentary. At the end of the film, the interviewer revealed himself as an agent of the true Mandarin, who was angered by Trevor’s use of their title. It’s been two years since that short film was attached to Thor: The Dark World’s home release, and we still haven’t seen the real Mandarin on screen. With everything coming up in Phase Three, it’s doubtful we’ll see him appear in the near future, but there may be hope in Phase Four, especially if Iron Man 4 gets off the ground.
If they want to go for a faithful Mandarin adaptation, they would need to keep him Chinese, though obviously ignore the stereotypes that plagued him in his early years. It already sounds like he has a massive criminal organization at his disposal, and if he has/gets ahold of the ten alien rings he wields in the comics, he would be even more dangerous to Iron Man and the other MCU heroes. Let us know if you’d like to see the real Mandarin eventually introduced in the comments below.