Marvel outlined its upcoming plans for its the MCU Phase 4 during a panel at San Diego Comic-Con, and it includes a way to slightly ret-con one of its most divisive villain choices. The company announced that the Mandarin is going to be represented as a villainous threat closer to his comic inspirations–and it’s even working the twisty Iron Man 3 plot in.
Essentially, Iron Man 3 established the Mandarin as a cover for the film’s real threat, the industrialist Aldrich Killian (Guy Pearce). Killian had been manufacturing a terrorist threat via a bumbling actor pretending to be the Mandarin (Ben Kingsley). It was a clever take, but some fans voiced disappointment over a classic character being treated as a punchline. The next phase of the MCU will address that head-on.
Shang-Chi and the Legend of the 10 Rings will bring on actor Tony Leung as the iconic villain. The ten rings is a reference to both a major part of the Mandarin’s character, and to references already made in the MCU.
“The 10 rings have been in the MCU from the very beginning,” Marvel Studios head Kevin Feige said during the panel. “There is a real Mandarin, and he was quite upset with the imposter in Iron Man 3.”
Shang-Chi director Destin Daniel Cretton added that now that he’s been given a peek behind the curtain, “incredible things have been thought out from the very beginning.” That suggests that the plot beats will at least feel like a natural fit with the rest of the MCU.
Shang-Chi is scheduled to hit theaters on February 12, 2021. It follows a kung fu master, and is the first film to feature an Asian lead in the MCU. For more on the next phase of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, be sure to check out all the Phase 4 plans revealed during the SDCC panel.