When Shang Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings comes to theaters in 2021, the film will come back to one of the longest-running plotlines of the Marvel Cinematic Universe: that of the Ten Rings organization, first teased all the way back in 2008's Iron Man. The organization was referenced in the Iron Man trilogy, with the third film culminating in a showdown with "The Mandarin," the ostensible leader of the group. Instead, there was a stunning misdirect in the film's third act, and fans never got to meet the "real" Mandarin. That will change soon enough.
Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings is set to bring back the Ten Rings. While it appeared that Iron Man 3 would introduce Ben Kingsley as the Mandarin, the leader of the Ten Rings organization and a classic Marvel villain, it ended up being a "fake out" as part of a wider plot designed to trick Tony Stark. In a subsequent Marvel One-Shot, All Hail the King, Ben Kingsley's character was broken out of prison by a Ten Rings operative who warned him that the "real" Mandarin was upset by the misuse of his title. Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings will introduce Tony Leung as the real Mandarin and the assumed leader of the Ten Rings organization.
"There are modern interpretations of The Mandarin that I think can work in the context of, particularly of a Marvel movie that has a much more grounded basis in Asian culture and has, frankly, Asian filmmakers and other Asian actors in its ensemble, and driving the story," Iron Man 3 writer Drew Pearce admitted to CinemaBlend. "In our Iron Man movie, as you and everyone else knows, it was my feeling that if we did The Mandarin in many of the forms that he is most commonly known as, we were playing into the racial stereotypes that generated the character in the beginning. Yellow peril, you know. … That idea was what inspired our take on the Mandarin."
Pearce also said that while the "real" Mandarin will finally stand up, that does not mean that the events of Iron Man 3 don't "count."
"I've also spoken to some of my friends at Marvel and of course I don't know exactly what happens, but there's a strong sense that everything will be revealed and nothing is being retconned," Pearce said. "And that, at the end of the day, is all we can ask for. That, and the fact that, you know, they clearly think it's going to be -- he's going to be the best adversary. And I trust in Marvel. In Marvel, we trust."
Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings will star Simu Liu as Shang-Chi and Awkwafina. The new movie will be released on February 12, 2021.
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