Marvel Once Considered Introducing The Mandarin As Iron Man’s Central Villain


Ten years is a lifetime in the film industry – just look at the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

Almost a decade has passed since Jon Favreau’s Iron Man lit the fuse, spawning a record-breaking superhero franchise that has since collected a whopping $12 billion in box office receipts. Its latest title, Thor: Ragnarok, is on the verge of becoming the 17th addition to Marvel’s lucrative juggernaut, and all signs point to another slam dunk.

As the press junkets continue for Taika Waititi’s acclaimed romp, Marvel Studios head Kevin Feige has spent the past few days answering all sorts of questions and queries about the MCU, its future, and that hotly-anticipated Phase 4. But Uproxx took things in a different route. Rather than focusing on Marvel’s immediate future, the outlet circled back to ground zero (read: Iron Man) to discuss script changes and the death of Obadiah Stane.

Not unlike the pint-sized battle between Ant-Man and Yellow Jacket, the third act of Iron Man had Tony Stark square off against his former ally (Stane), who acquired a suit of his own in the Iron Monger. Said spat resulted in the death of Jeff Bridges’ villain, but as Kevin Feige told Uproxx, there was a time when Marvel considered allowing Stane to live another day.

It’s a line of thinking that would have elected the Mandarin as Iron Man‘s central villain, as Feige recalls:

Well, that would be awesome to have him come back. That would be great. As you may recall, when he was hired, he was a secondary villain to the Mandarin. And as we were prepping the movie we realized we didn’t want to do the Mandarin in that movie. And when we took him out and made Obadiah the lead villain, Iron Man became what Iron Man became. But what was required is that Iron Monger [Obadiah Stane] had to go down into that arc reactor.

Given his fantastical trappings, the Mandarin would have certainly steered the MCU in a different direction had he been included in Jon Favreau’s Iron Man. History tells us that Marvel ultimately sided with Stane, and if nothing else, it gave us a memorable performance from Jeff Bridges.