In 2013, the Marvel Cinematic Universe introduced The Mandarin… or so we thought. As it turned out, Ben Kingsley’s Iron Man 3 character was actually a drunken actor named Trevor Slattery who was hired to play The Mandarin by Aldrich Killian, but now we’re finally meeting the real deal in the upcoming Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings, and he’ll be played by Tony Leung.
No specific details about how The Mandarin fits into Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings have been revealed yet, although it’s a good bet that he’ll serve as the main villain, and there’s been speculation that he’ll replace Fu Manchu/Zheng Zu as the father of Simi Yu’s Shang-Chi.
Regardless, The Mandarin is one of the oldest villains in the Marvel Comics universe, debuting in 1964’s Tales of Suspense #50. That’s a lot of history, so we’ve gone ahead and assembled all the important facts you need to know about the super villain, both from the printed page and what little has been revealed about him in the MCU.
He’s Primarily An Iron Man Villain
Although Mandarin is one of those Marvel villains who’s clashed with numerous heroes over the years, his main enemy is Tony Stark, a.k.a. Iron Man. Those two have been fighting since the beginning, with Iron Man being the one who most frequently foils The Mandarin’s attempts at world domination. In a way The Mandarin serves as a twisted reflection of Tony because he also boasts incredible intelligence and harnesses advanced technology (we’ll talk more about that later).
Unfortunately, we won’t ever see an Iron Man vs. Mandarin clash in the MCU. Tony Stark sacrificed his life to defeat Thanos in Avengers: Endgame, and he never crossed paths with the true Mandarin in the years prior. That would have been a great conflict to witness, but at least the MCU’s Mandarin has another superhero to antagonize soon.
He Wields Ten Rings That Each Have A Different Power
Aside from his impressive brain and skill in various martial arts, The Mandarin also utilizes ten rings that each have a different special ability, ranging from emitting cold waves to rearranging matter. Mandarin discovered the rings at the wreckage of a ship belonging to a dragon-like alien from Maklu IV named Axonn-Karr, and the villain figured out how to mentally link with them.
While there was an Iron Man storyline a few years back about each of The Mandarin’s rings ending up in the possession of 10 other people, for the most part Mandarin’s always used them against his foes. Given the name of Shang-Chi’s movie, it’s logical to assume that the MCU’s Mandarin will use the rings as well, although whether they have the same powers and origins remains to be seen.
He Lied About His Origins
In The Mandarin’s original origin tale, he was depicted as the son of a wealthy man from pre-revolutionary China and an English noblewoman (and also a descendant of Genghis Khan). His parents died shortly after he was born, and his aunt raised him to hate the world and used up all of his inherited fortune to train his body and mind. After he was evicted from China as an adult, he found Axonn-Karr’s corpse and spaceship in the Valley of Spirits, and thus this man officially became The Mandarin.
However, all of the above was revealed to be a lie that The Mandarin had made himself believe to be true using one of his rings. During Matt Fraction’s Iron Man run, The Mandarin kidnapped a film director to make a movie about his life, and this director discovered while researching that Mandarin was actually the son of an opium den prostitute. He did still find those rings later in life, but he killed the pilot of the alien craft, and he was apparently also at the camp where Tony Stark was held captive when he constructed his first Iron Man armor. Mandarin later killed the director when he made the Mandarin movie based off these true facts rather than the idealized past the villain preferred.
He Has A Son Who’s Also Caused Trouble
The Mandarin’s son, Temugin, grew up in a Himalayan monastery and barely had any contact with his father in those years. After Mandarin died during a battle with Iron Man (in typical comic book fashion, he didn’t stay dead), Temugin received a package containing his father severed hands with all the powerful rings, and Temugin felt honor-bound to exact revenge against Tony Stark.
Temugin seems to have buried the hatchet with Tony, and while he’s not a super villain Mandarin is (he was last seen working with the Agents of Atlas), there’s definitely some darkness in him, and it wouldn’t be surprising if he turned back to crime. Assuming Mandarin ends up being Shang-Chi’s father in the MCU, it’s hard to say if that means Temugin will be around as well. Giving Shang-Chi a brother could provide an interesting twist for his hero’s journey, as while he ultimately rejects The Mandarin, Temugin would continue to carry out their father’s bidding.
There’s Been A Lot Of Groundwork Laid For Him In The MCU
Mandarin’s influence in the MCU has been felt since the very beginning, as the terrorist group that kidnapped Robert Downey Jr’s Tony Stark in Iron Man is called The Ten Rings. Members of that organization would later pop up in Iron Man 2 and Ant-Man, but it wasn’t until Iron Man 3 that Mandarin was finally named. As mentioned earlier, this Mandarin was a fraud, and for nearly a year, there was no indication that The Mandarin was anything more than a fictional entity.
However, then came the Marvel One-Shot All Hail the King, when Trevor Slattery was visited in prison by Jackson Norriss, who initially presented as a documentarian, but was actually a Ten Rings agent. Jackson told Trevor he was bringing him back to the real Mandarin to be punished for him and Aldrich Killian making a fool of his name. By the time Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings comes out, seven years will have passed between learning about the real Mandarin and finally seeing him in person.
Stay tuned to CinemaBlend for any updates about what we can expect from the real Mandarin in the MCU. Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings opens in theaters of February 12, 2021. Head to our Marvel movies guide to find out what else is coming in Phase 4 and beyond.
Connoisseur of Marvel, DC, Star Wars, John Wick, MonsterVerse and Doctor Who lore. He's aware he looks like Harry Potter and Clark Kent.
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