Will Ben Kingsley’s Secret Marvel Project Reveal The Real Mandarin?

by Charles Webb

Alright, place this squarely in the “rumor” column, but Latino Review is claiming they have a scoop on Sir Ben Kingsley’s role in an upcoming secret Marvel project – a role that undoes one of the most interesting things in this summer’s “http://splashpage.mtv.com/tag/iron-man-3/ttp://splashpage.mtv.com/tag/iron-man-3/”>Iron Man 3.”

According to the site, Kingsley will be appearing in a new Marvel One-Shot which will reveal the true head of the Ten Rings and perennial Iron Man villain, the Mandarin.

So somehow, Kingsley’s “Trevor” character – a drug-addled, hedonistic British actor hired by AIM to play act as a global terrorist – will bring the real version of the character into the Marvel universe.

Even if “Iron Man 3″ director and co-writer Shane Black has publicly wondered aloud “Is it really worth it?” to revisit the character, the approach makes sense in a way for Marvel. Trevor effectively took one of Iron Man’s most iconic (and problematic) villains off the board, leaving Tony Stark with a pretty shallow bench of heavies to face in subsequent, inevitable sequels.

The Mandarin in the comics was a resident of imperial China who came into possession of ten alien rings which granted him a variety of superpowers. As a brilliant scientist in his own rights, he made a dangerous foil for Tony, but his early iconography was ripped right from the same culturally-gross thinking that gave us Fu Manchu (i.e. thin-mustached villains in traditional garb, rubbing their hands with glee at the prospect of subjugating the white man).
Plus, some “Iron Man” fans weren’t exactly happy with the Trevor reveal, so to Marvel’s way of thinking, this could be a win-win.

Black and co-writer Drew Pearce said in a recent Q&A that Marvel spent years attempting to make a cinematic version of the one-time Yellow Peril villain work, going so far as to tease him in the first film (before dropping the concept entirely for “Iron Man 2″). Maybe someone in the cinematic brain trust has cracked the character in a way that won’t alienate the potentially large Chinese audience for a sequel.

That last bit is the most important part: if you’ll recall, Disney/Marvel shot additional scenes for the Chinese release of “Iron Man 3″ featuring a pair of name Chinese stars. All this in the hopes of increasing the film’s reach in what is being seen as one of the most lucrative film markets in the world right now.

So if this rumor does pan out, we’re curious to see precisely what kind of line Marvel and Disney are prepared to tread in order to keep the character “true” to his comics counterpart without killing their Chinese box office.

[Source: Latino Review]

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