Ever since Iron Man 3 gave us possibly the least-satisfying twist in the whole of the MCU, fans have had a chip on their shoulder over the way franchise handled the Mandarin. You’ll no doubt remember that Ben Kingsley’s supervillain was revealed to be a washed-up actor hired by Guy Pearce’s Aldrich Killian to front his crimes. Marvel has moved on a lot since then, though, so we didn’t think the Mandarin would ever be treated right on the big screen. But it turns out that we were wrong.
We Got This Covered has heard from a source that the real Mandarin will be the main antagonist of the upcoming Shangi-Chi movie. The project, which would bring Marvel Comics’ first Asian superhero to life, hasn’t been officially announced, but we all know it’s in the works and now our source is telling us that the titular Master of Kung Fu could face off against the Master of the Ten Rings in the film.
Those familiar with Shang-Chi should be able to see how this would work, too. In the comics, he’s the son and nemesis of Fu Manchu, the pre-existing Chinese villain who’s nowadays seen as something of a racist stereotype. As such, it would make a lot of sense for Marvel to switch this outdated character out for one that fans are desperate to see realized. Plus, there might also be rights issues preventing the studio from using Fu Manchu.
As for how the Mandarin could be brought into the MCU again after Iron Man 3, well, the 2014 One-Shot “All Hail the King” already provided an explanation for that. The short saw a documentary crew interviewing Kinglsey’s Trevor Slattery in jail and at the end it’s revealed that the crew actually work for the real Mandarin, and he’s not pleased that Slattery impersonated him.
Obviously, Shang-Chi is still being developed, so we’ll have to see what happens, but a long-awaited appearance from the Mandarin would be a perfect way of linking the character into established MCU lore and is surely something that would please the fans.