The story of Iron Man began with Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) getting attacked and captured by a terrorist group known as the Ten Rings while demonstrating a new weapon his company developed for the U.S. military. That moment not only began the origin story of the titular hero who managed to build himself an arc reactor to sustain his health and power his armored suits, but it may have set the foundation for the events of Iron Man 3.
The Ten Rings was a shout out to Iron Man's archenemy in Marvel Comics, the Mandarin, and refers to the literal ten rings that the Mandarin wears, rings with alien origins. The Mandarin character has been the talk of fans and those involved with the production of Iron Man 1 & 2 since the outset. Days after Iron Man 2 hit theaters for instance, back when it was a given that Favreau would helm number three, he - like Iron Man 2 writer Justin Theroux - made it clear that Iron Man 3 would have to introduce the Mandarin but they were unsure about how to handle the Ten Rings aspect of the character.
"You’ve got to do the Mandarin… The problem with the Mandarin is that the way it’s depicted in the comic books, you don’t want to see that.
"He has 10 magical rings — that just doesn’t feel right for our [franchise]… So it’s either tech-based, or the rings are not really rings. But maybe with Thor and all those others, you’ll introduce magic to that world and it won’t seem so out of place."
With Ben Kingsley playing Mandarin in Iron Man 3, the Ten Rings will make a return, but it's a mystery as to how. This unsurprising fact was confirmed today by Latino Review who managed to acquire photos of one of the production's crew hats which has the film name on the back, and on the front, the Ten Rings logo as depicted in the original Iron Man (pictured up top).
At Comic-Con this summer, director Shane Black flat out confirmed the speculation of Kingsley's role before playing several minutes of footage from the film, a sizzle reel that concluded with a 360 degrees shot of Kingsley in full Mandarin costume, ten rings and all.
Mandarin is undoubtedly the leader of the Ten Rings organization and it wouldn't be a stretch to assume that Iron Man 3 is going to do something similar to that of The Dark Knight trilogy in that the villainous faction in the origin story will return with its background fleshed out in the third installment, bringing the series full circle. It may be explained that the Mandarin had a lot to do with the events of the first Iron Man that saw Stark kidnapped in order to build weapons of mass destruction, along with many of the events in his family's past.
In the books, Mandarin embraces and uses technology much like Tony Stark. He's sabotaged military tech (including Stark weapons and vehicles) to turn them against other nations during their multiple encounters, and from the footage we've seen already, we know that in Iron Man 3, Mandarin sends attack helicopters to destroy Stark's home.
We also know that the Extremis technology from Warren Ellis "Extremis" miniseries is playing a key part in the story and that Mandarin will attempt to use it for very bad reasons. What we don't know is how the rings factor in. So far, the "Ten Rings" a name and a symbol representing a terrorist group. The origins of the logo and why Mandarin wears them are still a mystery. Black has compared the Iron Man 3 screenplay to that of a Tom Clancy thriller with "real-world villains" - seemingly removing any possibility of the Mandarin having supernatural abilities - but could we be in for another twist where the Ten Rings are of supernatural or otherworldly origins?
In the comics, the Mandarin character discovered a crashed alien ship and that's where he acquired the rings. We keep hearing Iron Man 3 is very "grounded," but with Thor and The Avengers taking moviegoers to other worlds and realms, the idea of ten alien rings are not that much of a stretch.
Iron Man 3 is directed by Shane Black based off of his and Drew Pearce’s screenplay, and stars Robert Downey Jr., Ben Kingsley, Don Cheadle, Gwyneth Paltrow, Guy Pearce, Jon Favreau, Rebecca Hall, Cobie Smulders, William Sadler, James Badge Dale and the voice of Paul Bettany.
Iron Man 3 releases May 3, 2013, Thor: The Dark World on November 8, 2013, Captain America: The Winter Soldier on April 4, 2014, Guardians of the Galaxy on August 1, 2014 and The Avengers 2 on May 1, 2015.
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Source: Latino Review