Marvel Studios head man Kevin Feige is defending that Mandarin twist from Iron Man 3 in an interview with Rotten Tomatoes. For those who are unaware, Shang-Chi and the Legend of The Ten Rings is not the first appearance of The Mandarin. In the 2013 movie, a fake version of the bad guy comes about with Guy Pearce's Aldrich Killian hiring an actor named Trevor Slattery to pose as the amazing presence. Marvel continues to catch some flak for that decision, but Feige stands by it. Threading the needle between deploying a yellow peril stereotype and completely dismissing the character's role was a tricky one. (The continuing debate is evidence of how hard it can be to get this right. But, the movie is debated for a number of other reasons as well.) In Feige's eyes, director Shane Black's decision to subvert expectation was a great one.
"We've been talking about that when we do bring this character to the screen, [we] only wanted to do it when we felt we could do it supreme justice and really showcase the complexity of this character, which frankly we couldn't do in an Iron Man movie because an Iron Man movie is about Iron Man; an Iron Man movie is about Tony Stark.," he said. "So [Iron Man 3 director] Shane Black, in his film and his script that he co-wrote, came up with this fun twist that we love to this day, and it turned out to be Trevor Slattery. Just because that version wasn't real didn't mean there's not a leader of the Ten Rings organization, and that is who we meet for the first time in Shang-Chi."
"That's what's fun about the MCU at this stage," Feige also mentioned. "We can do something like Shang-Chi, introducing a brand new hero into the MCU and into the world at large. But that subtitle, The Legend of the Ten Rings, actually connects it back to the very beginning of the MCU, the Ten Rings being the organization that kidnapped Tony Stark at the very beginning of Iron Man one. And that organization was inspired by a character called the Mandarin in the comics."
Co-writer Drew Pearce also said that the decision excited everyone around in a conversation with Inverse.
"I couldn't be more excited," Pearce mused. "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."
"My approach to the Mandarin was inspired by the reason why I couldn't use the original," he added. "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."
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