One of the first major controversies in the Marvel Cinematic Universe has resurfaced, with fans reappraising the chaotic twist on the Mandarin in Iron Man 3.
In all of the marketing leading up to the film, it seemed that Ben Kingsley would be playing a terrifying terrorist-like character who had once masterminded the capture of Tony Stark in the original Iron Man film. Instead, it’s revealed that he’s simply a quirky actor who has been paid by A.I.M. to appear publicly as the leader of the Ten Rings organization.
The twist didn’t go down particularly well with diehard fans at the time, who had seen the menacing look of the “villain” in promotional material, and thought Tony Stark would finally face an interesting threat who wasn’t just someone in another Iron Man suit. Guy Pearce is later revealed to be the Mandarin in the film, and was never heard from again after his apparent death.
Fans are reflecting on it again on Reddit, with Iron Man 3 now nearly a decade old.
Important to note that not everybody hates it, as a few commenters have expressed their appreciation for the twist. Perhaps the internet is just overly reactionary? Nah, that can’t be it.
Others noted that it’s the type of move that it’s hard to see the modern Marvel Cinematic Universe taking, especially after the outcry over simple things like having a Muslim teenager headline a Disney Plus series like Ms. Marvel.
Praise went to Kingsley regardless, with many noting his menacing performance for the first two thirds of the threequel. The Mandarin had been built up since the first film, so perhaps that’s why the twist felt so cold to so many.
There’s also important background to all of this. The twist was always going to happen, but it wasn’t going to be Aldrich Killian who was the mastermind. Instead, Rebecca Hall’s Maya Hansen would be the true big bad, which lines up much better with the opening scenes set in 1999.
In the end though, Kingsley did get his due in Shang-Chi some eight years after Iron Man 3, while he also starred in the One-Shot All Hail The King, which followed his time in prison.
Iron Man 3 is available to stream on Disney Plus.