‘Iron Man 3′: Ben Kingsley Teases ‘The Real Mandarin’

Published 8 months ago by

All Hail the King Kingsley Iron Man 3: Ben Kingsley Teases The Real Mandarin

Last year, Shane Black kicked the hornet’s nest with his contribution to the Marvel Cinematic Universe; Iron Man 3 might be the studio’s second highest grossing release to date (right behindĀ The Avengers), but to this day it’s easily the most controversial. If you’ve seen the film, you already know why. If you haven’t, well, you’ve probably tangentially gained knowledge on the fracas through the magic of pop culture osmosis. The truth of Iron Man 3‘s midpoint twist is old hat by now.

But like all good geek disputes, tussles over the nature of The Mandarin just won’t die. (On that note, for anybody who has yet to watch the film, be warned of spoilers ahead.) Even as early as six months back, screenwriter Drew Pearce had a few things to say about the matter of washed up British actor Trevor Slattery’s actual identity; his comments were timed with the release of Thor: The Dark World on VOD and home video, and the Slattery focused one-shot All Hail the King along with it.

And now Sir Ben Kingsley himself has added some fuel to the fire with remarks made in a recent interview with IGN; he’s currently doing the press rounds for The Boxtrolls, so of course the discussion eventually wove itself round to the subject of The Mandarin, Trevor Slattery, and character integrity. Seems that the topic has stuck with Kingsley, too, and not just his creative cohorts and disgruntled fans.

This isn’t the first time he’s opened up about Iron Man 3 and mused over the many and sundry misgivings over the direction Black chose to take The Mandarin in the film; it is, however, one of the more compelling suggestions put forth regarding the character’s motivations. Read on for the full quote from Sir Kingsley:

“Has the Mandarin invented Trevor, or has Trevor invented the Mandarin? Which is which?…The Mandarin could be so supremely intelligent that he could have said, ‘You know what? I’ll invent this actor, and he will be my mask.’ You know, which is which? Who’s pulling the strings. Now, this is me just free-thinking here, but I would love to revisit that world. But Trev, bless him, may have made an indelible mark on that world. So everyone might say, ‘Is it Trev under there?’ So they’d have to approach it quite carefully, and so would I, but I would love to go back to that world, yeah.”

Ben Kingsley Mandarin Trevor Slattery Iron Man 3: Ben Kingsley Teases The Real Mandarin

Let’s recap for posterity’s sake: in Iron Man 3, the stylishly bedecked terrorist known as The Mandarin takes responsibility for a series of lethal attacks in the US, and Tony Stark takes it on himself to issue an ill conceived challenge to the man via television. Halfway through the film, thereabouts, we discover that The Mandarin isn’t The Mandarin at all, but rather a has-been thespian named Trevor Slattery, posing as The Mandarin at the behest of Guy Pearce’s villainous megalomaniac, Aldrich Killian, who (sort of) claims that he’s The Mandarin.

Cut to winter 2014, and All Hail the King asserts that there is a real Mandarin out there in the world, and he’s pretty cheesed at poor Trevor, who has spent the intervening period between Iron Man 3 and the one-shot luxuriating in the slammer. Except now we’re being treated to the notion that perhaps Trevor really is The Mandarin after all, which makes his would-be rescuer in All Hail the King look like kind of a dunce.

Ben Kingsley as Trevor Slattery in All Hail the King1 Iron Man 3: Ben Kingsley Teases The Real Mandarin

Keeping in mind that Kingsley is speaking solely for himself and not as a mouthpiece for Marvel, this isn’t exactly the worst solution for mollifying comic diehards without completely disrespecting Black’s work on Iron Man 3. If there’s a real Mandarin biding his time in the MCU, why not have him be Trevor? What if Trevor has been trolling everyone – not just Tony Stark, but the US government, the public, and even Killian – this entire time? What if he’s the ultimate criminal mastermind, disguising himself as the most pitiable person possible to deflect suspicion? Everybody straight up buys Trevor’s story without much fuss; it would be the perfect cover.

It would also enrich the MCU by giving Kingsley another opportunity to do what he did so well in Iron Man 3: play two sides of the coin, the bumbling, hapless Trevor and the sonorous, menacing Mandarin. If the adaptive elements of the film didn’t work for some, perhaps everyone can still agree that Kingsley turned out a great performance. More of that wouldn’t be a bad thing.

Again, Kingsley is just spitballing here – don’t expect to see him return to Marvel films until otherwise noted – but as far as spitballs go, this is a pretty good one.

Source: IGN

Follow Andy Crump on Twitter @agracru
TAGS: Iron man 3
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  1. Iron Man 3 is a JOKE.

  2. He was the best thing in Iron Man 3.

    • Agreed. Don’t see why people don’t understand that. I guess fans were just not prepared for so many superhero twists in 2013…. especially Zod’s twist. On his neck.

      • I don’t understand every one is being so surprised at zod dieing in the end, yes it was in a different way, but Superman(Christopher Reeve’s version) killed him in the original movie too. After he de-powered them, he picked him up and threw him down a cavern. Sure, you don’t actually see the “death”, but if he was basically human at that point, i think its safe to say he didn’t survive the fall. Hell, even lois lane punched one off into the pit as well.

        • Slightly off-topic, but yeah I know what you mean. The controversy surrounding Zod’s murder seemed appropriate from the general audience, since most recall the Chris Reeves films as being light-hearted old-school camp and regard MoS as “dark and gritty” for obvious reasons …but I don’t get the fan-community getting all riled up for it, even Mark Waid who said he walked out on MoS after the neck-snapping, even Kevin Smith.

          I don’t get that. Forget Superman II, the John Byrne Superman DID kill Zod in the first outing in the comics, and it led to him establishing his no-kill policy, if I’m not mistaken it isn’t an original idea by Christopher Nolan/Zack Snyder.

          But you gotta admit, with Zod’s death and the Mandarin’s counterfeit, 2013 was a pretty controversial year for superhero movies.

    • I LOVED 3…. and loved him….. He’ll be back, I’m pretty certain that’s been the plan all along….. as John Lovitz would say… ACTING!!!!

  3. If they try and twist the twist it’ll only make it suck more IMO.

    It’s too late now, you wasted a badazz performance by Mr Kingsley and tainted the name Mandarin for many.
    Myself included.

  4. Its obvious to me, Trevor Slatery mentioned in the movie that Killian paid for plastic surgery to make him unrecognisable… That plastic surgery must have been modeled on the real Mandarin.

  5. Guess for me, I just would like a Iron Man 4. I personally loved the 3rd film and the twist. While I agree there were no “Iron man” moments, the story was really not about Iron Man but Tony Stark, his dealing with the aftermath of New York, and the threat by Mandarin/Killian. The movie was more who is Tony, can he be a hero without the armor.
    Whether Slattery is the true Mandarin or not is intriguing and would make for a great film, to see the real Mandarin be so shadowy that even his own followers do not know the real man, how powerful he truly is, would make for a great film, lets hope Marvel thinks so has well, with RDJ saying a month or so ago that he would be more than willing to make a 4th film, might be time for Marvel to say lets do this.

    • I think they’re opening up to the possibility of more magic-based characters in Phase 3, also they seriously need more than just one original Avenger headlining the solo-films for phase 3.

      • Hopefully. Though I look forward to Captain America 3, we need at least Thor 3 or iron man 4. I am hoping for the latter, because Thor hasn’t exactly wow’ed me yet, and I look forward to the mandarin.

        • Getting the Dark World BluRay this week and will probably have a different view for Thor 2, but yeah I agree I really want there to be a Thor 3 up there. I know the second one was a flop and from the overwhelming praise of Guardians and the general categorisation of Thor as a space-alien kinda makes me wonder if that’s still a possibility or not. Loki fans are still around and Thor 2 really ended in a cliff-hanger, so we need part 3, sans Jane and Darcy (though if they return for a Marvel Short I’m all for it).

          I mean, we have yet to see Hel.

          • I just wanna echo what you said here, because the elements that worked best in Thor 2 didn’t really involve Jane or Darcy. At least not to the point of being annoying. The entire sequence in the movie from the moment the Dark Elves invade Asgard through to the funeral scene is absolute gold, and tonally felt like what the entire movie should feel (with bits of humor thrown in every once in a while). It was exciting, thrilling, action packed, but also very emotional at times. The same can be said for Thor confronting Loki, breaking him out, and their crazy plan to confront the Dark Elves. But all the stupid slapstick things that happened, and especially Selvig just felt awful and misplaced.

            • Yeah, and the cringe-worthy humour didn’t help either. The best part was Loki and Thor. Okay for most part, doesn’t the Dark Elves feel like a loosely-based allegory for dark-matter and the general concept of entropy in the universe? I mean, Algrim’s power is basically a “death-touch” like he’s some embodiment of Dan Brown’s version of anti-matter (which reminds me, that’s how they could’ve salvaged Selvig — as a parody of Robert Langdon!)

              I liked that we got to see Jane interacting with Odin and Asgard, but it just felt too rushed; I would’ve loved to see more of her with Lady Sif, and less of the science vs. magic jokes.

              What I didn’t like regarding the central plot that you described here is how much the Dark Elves didn’t evoke older mythology. One of the most important themes from the first Thor movie was people discovering that Mjolnir, Thor and Asgard — these myths — do actually exist, and of Thor waking up as a perceived lunatic, powerless, and having to deal with the myth and legend of “Thor” itself, a concept of being “worthy” of his own myth. It was set AGAINST a world of science and demythologisation, which I felt was extremely close to the sort of magic realism that is popular in the works of Borges or even Kubrick; it was TASTEFUL and RELEVANT to the idea of a mythology that has been explained scientifically by Kirby and Lee; however, the new movie is a mere shade of that. I was hoping that the Dark Elves would basically be to Asgard what the Asgardians were to Earth: the existence of an even older strata of mythology that has suddenly appeared real; a scene where Thor speaks of genuinely being afraid of these guys to Jane and Jane responding as to whether this was any different from what we felt when Thor/The Chitauri came to New York last year, would’ve been the real gold in the treasure-box.

  6. Initially, I had big problems with the handling of Mandarin until I saw “Hail to the King”. Now, I’m good. Bring on 4!

    • Oops, I meant “All Hail the King”.

      • Not sure if he will be IM4, could be the Dr. Strange movie.

  7. Kingsley’s Mandarin / Trev. Slattery > Jeff Bridges and Mickey Rourke as an IM villain. Definitely more memorable.

  8. Loved Trevor ! Thought Kingsley & RDJ were hilarious in that scene together. Best bit in IM3 for me.

  9. The main problem was that it was an Iron man movie without Iron man. More like The dark knight rises, a batman movie without batman. Both movies made huge profit at box office – mainly due to their previous successful sequels, check the huge drop in ticket sales after 1st weekend – but most viewers/fans were disappointed from the story line. Especially with Iron man 3 because people already knew Nolan’s style and were not surprised from his conclusion, and probably were waiting for it! With Iron man 3, I think it was a bad surprise for fans to watch their superhero destroying his Iron man character, completely, and slowly. The idea that the real superhero is the man behind the suit/mask maybe right, but very weak and dangerous. Nolan was smart and introduced a possible replacement for the retired Bruce Wayne so that Batman’s character could stay alive and the legend continue. Iron man 3, to save Tony Stark, killed Iron man. While Dark Knight Rises kept both alive and at the end everyone – well, almost everyone – was happy. Both movies established more connection with regular viewers – not die hard fans – because they showed the inner struggle of Tony and Bruce as regular people, with their own inner demons and struggles. While fans were angry because in both cases, the superhero they love, was missing. So at the end it depends on you to love or hate Iron man 3. If you are a big fan of Iron man then you will probably hate it. Just like how Batman fans hated Dark Knight Rises. If you are not a big fan and only interested in the action and special effects within a good – or at least acceptable – story line, then you probably loved Iron man 3.

    • I am a huge Batman fan and I am not alone in saying that I absolutely loved The Dark Knight Rises. As well as IM3. It gave us a closure to the “never-ending battle” syndrome that superheroes suffer from. Ask Alan Moore and he’ll tell you how that’s a better way to write a superhero story than any other — to focus more on the “human” side of “super-human.”

      I personally think that this attack on the films, that they were terrible because they were endings, is a pretty solid and therefore sad truth. We want to keep seeing our heroes go on endlessly but these stories have to end at some point and let us move on and form our own conclusions and own heroes.

    • Aaaaaaaghh… Dark Knight Rises should never be mentioned EVER AGAIN…
      Still, The Mandarin Twist = John Fake who wishes he was Rob… rbo.. Robin… BUT NOT AS HORRIBLE… OOOh..


        “The Dark Knight Rises”

        There, Noah…was it mentioned enough for your head to explode?

        Personally, I loved the film AND its closing of an excellent trilogy.


  10. I think you have to bring Kingley back to play the real Mandarin. He’s too great of an actor to turn into a joke character when you actually need someone with his strong presence to play the mandarin.

    as someone else said the plastic surgery could have been to make him look like the mandarin. just have someone at some point kill Slattery and then the real mandarin starts to pop up and everyone is like who is this guy slattery is dead. that would even add a little more mystery to the story which is great for the mandarin.

    and hopefully he get the rings which i know is a stretch but i would like to see them or at least a variation of some iron man armor.


  12. Just get an actual Mandarin. I want to see Tony Stark’s tech vs. a 10-ring, magic-wielding super wizard.

    I still believe that Marvel hired Ben Kingsley because they didn’t want to offend the surging global (cough* Chinese) audience by casting a badass actor of asian descent. That’s more alarming than Kingsley’s character turning into a goofball.

    • Even in the comics, the Mandarin’s rings are not “magic,” they are actually alien tech.

      The big problem with the comic book version of the Mandarin is that he was created in the early sixties as a racist stereotype. Today’s audiences will not accept the character as he was written in the comics. I thought turning him into an anonymous terrorist who was NOT Chinese was a good move, and turning him into a made-up terrorist was a great way to bring in a reference to the old character but avoid the racist stereotype issues.

      I had other problems with Iron Man 3, but the “Mandarin Twist” was fine. “All Hail the King” was a good attempt by Marvel to appease the die-hard fans, but I would not be surprised to see them never address the issue again.

  13. So, Trevoer Slattery/The Mandarin = Verbal Kint/Keyser Soze?

    • No…one was interesting and well done, and the other was IM3. In the latter, it was also the least problematic aspect of the movie for me.

  14. They could have done so much better with the Mandarin and didn’t really even have to include magic so much. He could simply have found some alien technology left over from the battle in New York. I personally thought Iron Man 3 was one of the worst superhero movies I have ever seen, but that’s just my personal opinion. The Mandarin is Iron Man’s arch nemesis I they just failed in so many ways bringing him into the movie. Also, this was more a Pepper Potts 1 than an Iron Man 3 as she was the hero of the movie.

  15. Well, disney/marvel should troll us with a IM4 and have ben kingsly troll everyone as the real slimdarin…

    anyway, IM3′s villain was really not that great, I guess the many suits was eye candy for the audiences, but you’d expect those suits to be more than just cannon fodder for someone who just turns red/orange and slices through them like butter…IM’s previous suits survived worst attacks and villains, but meh, was quite disappointed in the villain choice…but I guess it makes sense in the super science-y world of IM to not have magical rings

  16. would be genius if he used one of his rings to influence Guy Pierce’s character to claim to be the Mandarin while he (Trevor/Mandarin) feigns incompetence as a measly actor to lower everyone’s guard.

    Then he attacks when least expected like maybe he gets out of prison, goes to visit Stark. Stark thinks he’s just the actor and then he gets zapped by the power in his rings, maybe reinjuring him and forcing him to have another Arc Reactor in his chest….

  17. Iron Man 3 didn’t have enough IM moments?
    -Lotsa new suits, can come to him at will, can eject from them, can control via Jarvis or remotely, essentially has his own army, defends him in his sleep
    -Removed his two biggest weaknesses:
    –Chest magnet that made him vulnerable to Obediah in IM1
    –Pepper being weak (now fortified with Extremis)
    -He fixed (not removed) the Extremis in Pepper and likely later used on himself once his magnet was removed
    -Destroyed his old vulnerable suits and likely started over with brand new less vulnerable ones (we have seen how quickly he can build them and the plans are all on the Oracle cloud or accessible by him somewhere)
    -Destroyed his old vulnerable house and likely will replace it with a better defended one
    -Showed himself he has the ability to protect without his suits
    -Ya gotta remember he isn’t a super soldier and he isn’t from another planet. He is just a smart guy trying to rights his previous wrongs. If alcohol can be a storyline about his weakness in the comics why can’t his PTSD be the equivalent in the movies?

    But what about the lame villain?:
    -Killian was a nutjob (as shown in their first meeting at the conference) that thought himself the Mandarin (created by his thinktank) but was still a major threat. He and his amateur followers hacked through Tony’s suits like butter.
    -Mentioned AIM had created the Mandarin persona for Killian and thereby showed us they have less than noble intentions for future concern and currently have military contracts.
    -Had Trevor surgically altered to look like the Mandarin (which we know is a real character based on the Ten Rings in IM1 and the One Shot)
    -Breathed fire (just like in the Extremis comic)

    Lets face it people that wanted their first exposure to the Mandarin to be epic are the ones letdown by the movie. The twist threw me too but i watched that movie multiple times in the theater because it was good and entertaining. Would I have liked to see more, yeah. Was i satisfied with what i got, yeah. Same goes for CATWS and Avengers and Guardians, etc….

    Don’t think Kingsley is out of this yet. If he looks like the Mandarin I could see him playing both parts. I could see the villains teaming up with the good guys to defeat Thanos at some point. How awesome would it be to see Kingsley in full Mandarin force fighting alongside Stark to defeat Thanos (all the time trying to undermine Tony so he can still rule after Thanos is taken down)?
    All I can say is I have enjoyed the ride so far from the Marvel movies and look forward to each and every one in the future.

    • Also, don’t forget the The Avengers movie:
      - Stark Tower has a lot of the tech that his home did. So it is possible that Tony can have his suits built there.

  18. Ever since I saw Iron Man 3 I knew the real Mandarin was out there. Why expose his true self so early? You’ve got to play out the current story first, get of jail, and then start raising some hell again. Bring on the 10 Rings!

  19. First of all, I flat-out LOVED Iron Man 3 — it was by far the wittiest Marvel movie yet (well, maybe outside of The Avengers) and I completed adored the “Mandarin twist.” The Mandarin as written in the comics may be a classic villain, but he’s also a problematic racial stereotype and could never be performed as a straight copy from the comics. Plus, then what would you have? Just one more boring super-villain, a carbon copy of everyone from Lex Luthor to any Batman baddie — just vaguely, insultingly Asiatic.

    What Iron Man 3 did was brilliant — the script cleverly turned it inside out, faked out the audience, and gave Sir Ben Kingley a wonderful comic turn. I was hugely entertained by it — it was unexpected and hilarious. Nope, I would NOT have wanted to see just another super bad guy.

    Iron Man 3 was touching, though, as well as funny — I call it “the liberation of Tony Stark,” because Tony has had one of the most complex and compelling story arcs of any superhero. He’s a genius inventor, but his supposed “arrogance” is a complete put-on, a metaphorical suit of armor that he covers himself with every bit as much as he does with the real armor. Underneath, Tony Stark is a mass of confusion, self-hate and insecurity, and RDJ plays all that so, so well. (I have to laugh any time I hear somebody say Stark is arrogant or has a huge ego — he doesn’t…not really. It’s a facade.)

    In The Avengers, his fear is that he is just a man in a can, not a real superhero — what is he, really, up against a god, a super-soldier and a Hulk? He’s a little guy with a bad heart, who’s kept alive only by his arc reactor, and he feels like it’s only his armor that allows him to compete with the real heroes. Steve Rogers’ barbed comments provoke him, but underneath he fears Steve is right – he’s all flash and would never lay down his life for the other guy.

    Of course, at the end of Avengers, Tony proves he’s the bravest of them all, and almost DOES give up his life to save New York. But in Iron Man 3, he’s back to fear and self-doubt, having terrifying PTSD flashbacks and obsessively building more and more suits, thinking they are the only things that will protect those he loves (meaning Pepper).

    But the story in Iron Man 3 takes ALL that away from him — and that’s why it’s so great. It leaves Tony stranded without a working suit at all, so it’s just up to him to MacGuyver his way to a solution and save America while he’s at it. Personally, I would rather see RDJ out of his suit than in it, because more face time, yo. (I don’t go to Iron Man movies to see big CGI Iron Men flying around and clashing with each other – I go to see RDJ.)

    And when he blows up all the suits at the end – well, those are the metaphorical fireworks that herald the freedom of Tony Stark — yes, the answer to “is it the man who makes the suit, or the suit that makes the man?” has EVERYTHING to do with it.

    And the answer, Tony has found, is that it IS the MAN who is the hero — Tony IS Iron Man. He can always build more stupid suits – that’s what he does. But it’s the man inside the suit who has found he is a real hero.

  20. so basically trevor slattery is a marvel keyser soze?

  21. While 3 isn’t my favorite MCU movie, after multiple viewings I do now appreciate it for the themes it presented. The ideas about masks and what lies beneath, and continuing the overall Iron Man theme of making your own demons, your past coming back to haunt you. Seemed a much more solid film.

  22. I really hope Marvel picks up on this. When I heard Kingsley would be The Mandarin, I thought it would be epic. I was totally let down. I hope it comes about that Mandarin was fooling everyone and controlling Killian as well.

  23. I think this is the modern and reinvention origin story of the mandarin “Man often becomes what he believes himself to be”.

  24. Expect an Arrow/ Agents of Shield X-over soon