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Getting The Mandarin Right for Shang-Chi

August 1st, 2019Getting The Mandarin Right for Shang-Chi

When Marvel Studios revealed its upcoming slate for Phase 4, bringing several popular characters back to theatres, they also introduced a new character who comes with an old twist. Destin Daniel Cretton has been tapped to helm SHANG-CHI AND THE LEGEND OF THE TEN RINGS, an origin story for a new Marvel hero who will actually face a villain the MCU has used before.

Savvy Marvel Studios fans will recognize the name “the Ten Rings.” This was a terrorist organization that has been around on screen ever since Jon Favreau’s first IRON MAN. They were the baddies who imprisoned Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) at the start of the movie, prompting him to construct his debut suit of armor.

The Ten Rings returned, sort of, in IRON MAN 3, when their leader, The Mandarin, was portrayed by Ben Kingsley. By the end of that movie, however, The Mandarin was outed as a fraud, as Kingsley’s character, Trevor, was merely an actor hired to pretend to be The Mandarin.

The real Mandarin is out there, and the MCU plans to bring him and the Ten Rings back into the fold in time for SHANG-CHI. Relative newcomer Simu Liu (“Kim’s Convenience”) will play the title role, and Hong Kong screen icon Tony Leung has been tapped to play the major Marvel villain.

CinemaBlend spoke with IRON MAN 3 screenwriter Drew Pearce about the decision to bring The Mandarin back into the MCU after his portrayal in the IRON MAN sequel.

“I actually couldn't be more excited, partly because the casting of what looks like it will be The Mandarin is maybe one of the most exciting pieces of casting in American cinema in the next three years,” Pearce said. “On a purely fan level, I'm like, ‘Yep, bring that.’

“And there are modern interpretations of The Mandarin that I think can work in the context of — particularly of a Marvel movie that has a much more grounded basis in Asian culture and has, frankly, Asian filmmakers and other Asian actors in its ensemble and driving the story,” Pearce continued.

SHANG-CHI AND THE LEGEND OF THE TEN RINGS will be in theatres on February 12, 2021. Between now and then, Marvel Studios plans to bring Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson) back to “life” for a BLACK WIDOW prequel movie, and then introduce THE ETERNALS in late 2020.

But when CinemaBlend asked Drew Pearce if he thought SHANG-CHI would unravel everything that he established in Shane Black’s IRON MAN 3, he stated that he believes that wouldn’t be the case.

“I've also spoken to some of my friends at Marvel, and of course I don't know exactly what happens, but there's a strong sense that everything will be revealed and nothing is being retconned,” Pearce said. “And that, at the end of the day, is all we can ask for. That, and the fact that, you know, they clearly think it's going to be — he's going to be the best adversary. And I trust in Marvel. In Marvel, we trust.”

Trusting in Marvel Studios has worked for fans so far. We will continue to report on developments for all Marvel movies, including SHANG-CHI AND THE LEGEND OF THE TEN RINGS, as they happen. Stay tuned!