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The 'Real' Mandarin Has A Future In The MCU, Teases Kevin Feige

The Marvel Cinematic Universe might add a little Mandarin into the mix. 

This particular revelation comes straight from Marvel Studios president and executive producer of the MCU Kevin Feige, who lodged dozens of questions from fans during a recent AMAA (Ask Me Almost Anything) session on Reddit. When one Marvelite asked Feige whether there are plans to incorporate "the 'real' Mandarin teased in All Hail the King" into future Marvel projects, Feige answered with a simple, "Yes." 

The user's inquiry also touched on Marvel's potential intentions to feature the Ten Rings from the first Iron Man movie from 2008 elsewhere in the MCU. Judging by Feige's response, the fear-mongering terrorist coalition led by the Mandarin could be coming back to the silver screen at some point in time as well. 

For those confused as to who the heck the Mandarin is and what All Hail the King is about, and for those who need a refresher on the Ten Rings seen in the OG Iron Man film, we'll break it all down for you. 

Created by writer Stan Lee and designer-artist Don Heck, the Mandarin is an archenemy of Iron Man, who uses his skills in martial arts, his incredible intelligence (particularly when it comes to alien Makluan science), and his brilliance in strategy to terrorize his foes. The Mandarin obtains much of his super-human abilities from the ten rings he wears on his fingers: Nightbringer, Spectral, Zero, The Liar, Lightning, Incandescence, Daimonic, Remaker, Influence, and Spin. Each ring has a unique power — from blasting cold waves to emitting electricity to rearranging atoms — akin to how the six Infinity Stones all have their own purpose. Together, the ten rings help make the Mandarin a super-powered super-villain. 

In the Marvel Comics, the megalomaniacal Mandarin kidnapped Tony Stark after luring him to Afghanistan to oversee a field test of a new weapon. Of course, the Mandarin had an ulterior motive: capture the Stark Industries CEO and another prisoner named Ho Yinsen, and force the two to figure out the full scope of the ten rings' powers and reveal their secrets. The Mandarin has done a lot of other evil stuff, like infiltrated the U.S. government and tried to take over the world on numerous occasions, but his ties to Tony Stark are the most important when discussing the character's history in the MCU.

The Mandarin's ten rings "appeared" in the MCU by name — as the Ten Rings, the terrorist group described as "historically associated with the Mandarin." They captured Tony Stark and made him their prisoner when he took a business trip to Afghanistan (sound familiar?), then tried to get him to craft a Jericho missile for their own nefarious use. Instead of building the missile for the Ten Rings, Tony made a mini arc reactor and a suit of armor, escaped from captivity, upgraded his suit, and fought back against the Ten Rings a few days later. 

The Mandarin was only referenced in Iron Man (with the Ten Rings briefly appearing in the Iron Man sequel), but did pop up in Iron Man 3. His inclusion was divisive to say the very least. The three-quel revealed that Aldrich Killian (Guy Pearce) assumed the persona of the Mandarin to cover up his crimes, and the image of the man was an English actor named Trevor Slattery (Ben Kingsley), whom Killian hired to portray the likeness of the larger-than-life villain. This wasn't the way fans expected the Mandarin to be introduced to the MCU, and the bait-and-switch moment caused major uproar in the Marvel fandom. 

Even after the backlash, though, Ben Kingsley reprised his role in All Hail the King, a Marvel One-Shot direct-to-video short film that follows Trevor Slattery in Seagate Prison following the events of Iron Man 3. A documentary filmmaker named Jackson Norriss (Scoot McNairy) interviews Slattery, and during the conversation, states that Slattery's portrayal as the Mandarin upset the Ten Rings crew — of which Norriss admits he is a member. Norriss then kidnaps Slattery to break him out of prison and take him to meet the real Mandarin. 

According to Iron Man 3 director Shane Black, Marvel only made All Hail the King to say sorry to fans who were upset by what happened with the villain in the core MCU. "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,'" he told Uproxx in 2016. "The only reason they made that was an apology to fans who were so angry."

Based on Feige's one-word response during this Q&A sesh, it looks like Marvel plans to fully make up for the controversial move it made with the Mandarin in years past by bringing him back... for real this time.

There's no telling how exactly the Mandarin could appear in the MCU, though one specific project seems the most likely candidate: Shang-Chi. If recent whisperings prove true, the Mandarin could end up being the central villain in the standalone superhero movie, which has Short Term 12 filmmaker Destin Daniel Cretton attached as director. Some fans, like Reddit user Infinity-Gauntlet, are taking Feige's comment here as confirmation that the Mandarin will indeed go toe-to-toe with Shang-Chi in the upcoming film. 

Looking ahead into a post-Avengers: Endgame film slate, there's some pressure on the MCU to introduce villains as big, bad, and brutal as Thanos (Josh Brolin) was. Incorporating someone like the Mandarin, a super-smart baddie who rocks gems on his hands just like the Mad Titan did, seems like an excellent step to take in Marvel's Phase 4.