It’s fair to say that prior to Marvel’s Comic-Con panel this year, the Shang-Chi movie was not one of the most highly anticipated in the MCU’s upcoming slate. However, when Kevin Feige confirmed that the title would be Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings and it would feature the real Mandarin (not the Trevor Slattery fake-out from Iron Man 3) as the villain, the excitement levels went off the charts.
It’s a shame that we won’t get to see him do battle with Tony Stark, since the Mandarin is his arch-nemesis in the comics – it’s like seeing the Joker appear in the DCEU to fight some other superhero following Batman’s death – but at least it’s happening. Here are 10 Things Shang-Chi Needs To Fix About The MCU’s Mandarin.
10 Have him execute Trevor Slattery
In All Hail the King, when an associate of the true Mandarin came to visit the impostor Trevor Slattery in prison, he informed him that the Mandarin was very unhappy that he’d been using his name and then took him away, suggesting that he’d be brutally killed as punishment for pretending to be a real-world terrorist leader and making a mockery of his name.
It would be awesome for fans who were crushed by Iron Man 3’s big twist to see the actual Mandarin execute Slattery in cold blood in his big-screen introduction. It’d be a great way to show that no, that wasn’t the Mandarin, he was easy to defeat – but this guy, he is the real deal, and he’s ruthless.
9 Depict the scope of the Ten Rings’ reign
It would be great to see the Ten Rings depicted as a multinational terrorist organization with members from all over the world hailing from the shadiest corners of the criminal underworld. This could be a great way to introduce villains like Norman Osborn and Namor into the MCU, and bring characters from the Netflix series like Wilson Fisk into the movies.
The Mandarin is bent on world domination, and he would need to have some of the most powerful people in the world in his circle to achieve that. We need to see just how far the Ten Rings’ reach is (we’ve already seen their logo tattooed on a guy’s neck in Ant-Man, but the scale needs to be larger than that).
8 Show the abilities his power rings give him
The Ten Rings terrorist organization is named after the ten power rings that give the Mandarin his superhuman abilities. This would make him one of the few characters in the MCU with genuine superpowers that don’t come from a scientific formula or a special suit.
Still, the rings make him one of the most powerful villains in the Marvel universe, and no big-screen portrayal of him will be complete without those rings and the powers they give him. The rings would make the Mandarin a worthy adversary for even other magical MCU characters like Doctor Strange, so that power needs to come across in the movie.
7 No big surprises this time
The last time we were promised the Mandarin on the big screen, we had months of marketing setting up a terrifying terrorist leader as the villain of Iron Man 3. He would be a mystical challenge for Tony Stark whose threat he couldn’t just counter with more advanced technology, and he would strike fear into audiences across the world. And then halfway through the movie, we realized the trailers had been lying the whole time and everything was not what we thought.
Granted, it surprised fans who like to go into Marvel’s movies with a clear idea of what to expect, but not in a good way. A fan-favorite villain (and perhaps the fans’ favorite villain, period) was reduced to a laughing stock to make a point about “giving evil a face.” If the Shang-Chi trailers promise a terrifying villain, we’d better get a terrifying villain – no surprises this time.
6 Maintain the mystique
The great thing about the Mandarin as a mystical and sinister character is that he’s totally unpredictable. You can never figure out his next move or exactly what he’s planning to do next. Iron Man 3 nailed this in the initial video messages that the Mandarin who turned out to be fake was spreading across America’s TV airwaves.
But then there was the big twist that explained everything about the Mandarin and the mystique was gone. Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings needs to maintain the mystique surrounding the character (at least for as long as possible) to keep the audience on their toes and petrified of him.
5 Honor the character’s legacy from the comics
It’s no exaggeration to say that the Mandarin is a comic book villain on the level of the Joker or the Green Goblin when it comes to Iron Man lore. There is a rich history of narratives involving the Mandarin and honoring that history is the key to satisfying fans. The MCU already bungled the chance to give those fans a satisfying confrontation between Iron Man and the Mandarin back in 2013, but it’s not too late to do the character justice.
The MCU has always thrived on taking decades of comic books involving a character like, say, Captain America, and condensing their deep legacy of character development into a complex and engaging multi-movie arc. The botch-job of Iron Man 3 (which, all things considered, isn’t a bad movie – aside from failing to deliver on the promise of the Mandarin) can be rectified by simply honoring the comics in the way that Marvel has done with pretty much every other character on their bench.
4 Involve War Machine somehow
War Machine was a huge part of Iron Man 3 – although back then, he was known as the Iron Patriot – and with it, the fight against the Mandarin. All throughout the first act, as the Mandarin was taunting a shellshocked Tony Stark, his pal James Rhodes told him not to worry – as a terrorist, the Mandarin was the government’s problem, not a superhero’s problem.
And then he helped him take down the fake Mandarin and the even faker Mandarin in the final battle. It’s a shame that we’ll never get to see Stark battle the real Mandarin in the MCU, but seeing Rhodey “avenge” his fallen comrade by taking down the tyrant he failed to conquer (or at least helping Shang-Chi do it) will be a nice consolation prize.
3 Acknowledge the events of All Hail the King
The MCU movies haven’t really acknowledged the One Shot short films in the past. They tie in directly with the other movies, because it’s reasonable of the producers to have expected audiences to see them, but they don’t directly reference the One Shots, because they’re DVD extras and therefore not as widely seen.
However, All Hail the King needs to be acknowledged and referenced in the Shang-Chi movie in relation to the Mandarin, because it was a very important short – it gave fans hope that the Iron Man 3 twist wasn’t all we’d be seeing of the Mandarin on the big screen. Since this tease is finally getting paid off, it needs to be referenced in some way.
2 Give him an evil plan that makes sense
The Mandarin’s grand plan in Iron Man 3 didn’t make a link of sense. Since he turned out to be a hired actor and Aldrich Killian was the “real” Mandarin, the whole thing boiled down to a personal vendetta against Tony Stark (making him yet another Obadiah Stane/Justin Hammer type), so the “Death to America!” chants and attacks on major U.S. cities and targeting the President were never really explained.
Exactly why Killian chose the name “Mandarin,” an alias with obvious Asian connotations, isn’t explained either. The only explanation is that the Vice President’s daughter is an amputee, so she needed the Extremis virus, so he allowed a terrorist to bring America to its knees and blow up Air Force One. Tony only became involved when Happy was caught in a Mandarin attack and Killian couldn’t have known that would happen. The real “real” Mandarin in the Shang-Chi movie needs to have a plan that makes sense.
1 Make him Shang-Chi’s father
The MCU has a rich history of making villains out of fathers and father figures. Tony Stark’s mentor Obadiah Stane turned out to be working with terrorists to steal his armor and dethrone him as the CEO of Stark Industries. When Peter Quill met his biological father Ego, he turned out to be a genocidal maniac bent on starting the universe anew. The Vulture turned out to be Spider-Man’s girlfriend’s dad in a jaw-dropping twist.
Some fans have speculated that the real Mandarin will be revealed to be Shang-Chi’s father (even though his father was Fu Manchu in the comics). This would be a shocking revelation that would immediately make Shang-Chi incredibly important to the wider MCU.