Iron Man 3 Writer Says Mandarin’s Return in Shang-Chi Wasn’t Part of a Grand Plan

Iron Man 3 co-writer Drew Pearce doesn’t believe there was a plan in place for the real Mandarin to later surface in Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings, where the string-pulling villain will be introduced as played by Hong Kong icon Tony Leung Chiu-wai.

“I’d be lying if I said I knew there was a grand plan, and I would be surprised if there had been a plan,” Pearce told Inverse when promoting Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw.

2013’s Iron Man 3 revealed the supposed Mandarin to be actor Trevor Slattery (Ben Kingsley), backed by mastermind Aldrich Killian (Guy Pearce), who was trading on the name of the real Mandarin — a threatening presence alluded to in Pearce’s Marvel One-Shot: All Hail the King.

“I couldn’t be more excited,” Pearce added. “I was always super clear with [Marvel Studios President] Kevin [Feige] that Killian co-ops an ancient mantle and exploits it. All Hail the King backed that up, and it also was an excuse to hang with Trevor a bit longer.”

The decision to pit Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) against the Extremis-fueled Killian over an accurate depiction of his comic book archfoe was made out of a desire on Marvel’s part to avoid a character who was representative of “yellow peril” stereotypes.

“My approach to the Mandarin was inspired by the reason why I couldn’t use the original,” Pearce said.

“It’s very much a yellow peril stereotype with a particularly unsavory edge of propaganda used in this era. But that inspired the idea of what kind of propaganda is used [now]? The concept of demonization of the other, capital ‘O,’ we really flipped that concept.”

Because the sequel had “the context of a movie with a powerful white lead,” it was considered out of date to present a Chinese Mandarin.

“It felt deeply organic that the Ten Rings and the Mandarin mantle have been legitimately taken up,” he added. “There are versions of the Mandarin in the comics that are incredibly interesting and doable — the multinational technocrat Mandarin is a really attractive one.”

Pearce is next looking forward to seeing an authentic Mandarin in the context of Shang-Chi, where he’ll menace Marvel’s first Asian leading hero (Chinese-Canadian actor Simu Liu).

“I think it’s more exciting to me when you cast one of the most exciting names I’ve ever seen in a Marvel movie as the Mandarin,” Pearce said.

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“When it’s a movie that has such an authentically Asian context, and an Asian lead and Asian filmmakers behind it, frankly, I couldn’t be more excited to see where the Mandarin goes next.”

Marvel Studios releases Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings February 12, 2021.