One of the most memorable villains in Marvel Comics could be returning to the big screen, according to Marvel Studios head honcho Kevin Feige.
In an “Ask Me Anything” session on Reddit, the 45-year-old exec revealed that there are plans to bring the “real” incarnation of the Mandarin to the forefront in future movies.
The character debuted in Iron Man 3 and was portrayed as a terrorist kingpin by Sir Ben Kingsley, until it was revealed that he was actually actor Trevor Slattery, hired as a stooge by malevolent scientist Aldrich Killian (Guy Pearce).
Killian revealed himself as the true Mandarin in the film’s third act in a twist that proved controversial among fans of the more conventional take on the Mandarin in the comic books.
In the 2014 Marvel ‘One Shot’ short film All Hail the King, included on the DVD release of Thor: The Dark World, Scoot McNairy played a filmmaker interviewing Slattery for a documentary.
At the end of the interview, McNairy’s character revealed he was a member of the real ‘Ten Rings’ terror organisation and broke Slattery out of prison to meet his boss - the real Mandarin.
Since then, the character has been absent from the Marvel Cinematic Universe, but Feige hinted during the Reddit discussion that fans may not have long to wait.
A fan asked: “Without going into details about developing projects, are there any plans to incorporate the Ten Rings from the first Iron Man, or the ‘real’ Mandarin teased in All Hail the King in the future?”
“Yes,” replied Feige.
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His remarks appear to lend credence to rumours stemming from an online leak, which suggested the Mandarin could appear as the primary antagonist in the upcoming Marvel movie Shang-Chi.
The leaks, which spread via 4chan, suggested the Mandarin will be revealed as the father of the titular hero, who is a master of multiple martial arts.
In the comic books, he later gained the ability to make duplicates of himself.
Marvel has hired Short Term 12 director Destin Daniel Cretton to helm the movie.
Elsewhere in the wide-ranging Reddit discussion, Feige hinted that the function played by the One Shots would now be passed on to the studio’s Disney+ shows, which are set to explore characters including Scarlet Witch, Loki, Falcon and The Winter Soldier.
He said: “The best thing about the One Shots is that we got to flesh out other characters.
“It's tremendously exciting that we now have Disney+ series where we get to do that on a grand scale with many of the characters you know and love.”
Disney+ will launch in the USA in November, with no UK date yet announced.