One of the biggest lingering mysteries in the Marvel Cinematic Universe is the true identity of The Mandarin. The iconic villain has had a strange run within the MCU, first hinted at in the original Iron Man movie, before Iron Man 3 thwarted fan expectations with a reveal that "The Mandarin" was just a avatar used by Aldrich Killian (Guy Pearce) to build up his A.I.M. organization. However, after fan backlash to Iron Man 3 Marvel was forced to retcon the faux Mandarin by revealing that a real version of the villain exists - and we will finally meet him in Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings.
After seeing all the different ways the MCU has approached the topic of The Mandarin, fans don't know what to expect from actor Tony Chiu-Wai Leung's portrayal of the villain. Well, Shang-Chi director Destin Daniel Cretton is offering Marvel fans some new hints about what his version of The Mandarin will be like.
Here's what Destin Daniel Cretton teased about The Mandarin in Marvel's Shang-Chi, while appearing on the podcast The Call Us Bruce:
"...In the same vein, the emotional aspect and the ideas of camaraderie, family, and connection is something that will definitely be a part of this movie."
While the quote comes in the context of a larger discussion, it is definitely worth noting. Cretton speaking to the idea of family and connection being central themes of Shang-Chi is actually a much deeper hint about a major change to Shang-Chi's origin.
Ever since hearing the title Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings we've speculated that the film will reveal that The Mandarin is Shang-Chi's father in MCU continuity. The reasoning for that is that in Marvel Comics an international crime boss named Fu Manchu is actually Shang-Chi's father, who trains his son to become the Master of Kung Fu in order to make him the ultimate syndicate assassin. Shang-Chi's story is all about carrying out his father's dark wishes while thinking he is an agent of justice, only to eventually learn the horrible truth, and turn against his father.
Marvel Studios can't use Fu Manchu in the MCU due to ownership rights, as well as the obvious cultural stereotype the villain represents. However, a story about the Mandarin running a clandestine global crime syndicate (Ten Rings) and training his own son to be the ultimate assassin? That makes Shang-Chi a pivotal part of the MCU - especially as villains like Mandarin and Zemo rise up in the wake of Tony Stark's death.
Upcoming Marvel Studios projects include Black Widow on May 1, 2020, The Falcon and The Winter Soldier in Fall 2020, The Eternals on November 6, 2020, WandaVision in Spring 2021, Loki in Spring 2021, Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness on May 7, 2021, Spider-Man 3 on July 16, 2021, What If…? in Summer 2021, Hawkeye in Fall 2021, Thor: Love and Thunder on November 5, 2021, and Black Panther 2 on May 6, 2022. Marvel Studios Disney+ series without release dates include Ms. Marvel, Moon Knight, and She-Hulk.