The Mandarin’s Reinvention in Shang-Chi Is Not What Marvel Fans Are Expecting

    Marvel’s upcoming martial arts epic Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings will not only introduce audiences to the MCU’s newest superhero, it also plans to re-introduce the villainous leader of the Ten Rings, The Mandarin. Following the controversial take on the Marvel supervillain in Iron Man 3, fans have been wondering ever since whether he would return in a more familiar form. However, while Marvel are doing The Mandarin for real this time, co-writer Dave Callaham has teased some surprises along the way…

    “Our version of the character is not The Mandarin in the way that people are expecting him to be. ‘The Mandarin’ is a title that has been applied to him in the past by people that don’t understand his culture. But he’s a much deeper character than I think a lot of people would expect.”

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    The Mandarin’s appearance in the 2013 Iron Man threequel was met with both criticism and adoration in equal measure. Portrayed by Academy Award winner Ben Kingsley, a terrifying, all-powerful figure emerges before subverting expectations and being revealed as a cowardly actor under the employ of Guy Pearce’s Aldrich Killian. After such a contentious debut, how will Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings reinvent the character as a villain to be feared? Why, by casting Tony Leung, of course.

    “He’s Brad Pitt, Clooney, De Niro, all roles up into one,” Simu Liu says of the Infernal Affairs star joining the MCU. “He Ocean’s One! He came up to me and shook my hand with both of his, and I just about died in that moment.”

    Directed by Destin Daniel Cretton from a screenplay he wrote with David Callaham and Andrew Lanham, Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings will chronicle the story of a skilled martial artist who was trained at a young age to be an assassin by his father Wenwu AKA The Mandarin. After escaping the clutches Ten Rings organization and opting to live a normal life in San Francisco, Shang-Chi is soon drawn back into the clandestine world of the Ten Rings and is forced to confront the past he thought he had left behind.

    The fragile relationship between Shang-Chi and his father will sit at the center of the upcoming Marvel installment, with the family drama drawing director Destin Daniel Cretton to the project in the first place. The task of bringing in and reinventing The Mandarin though brought with it some responsibilities, most notably the avoidance of perpetuating harmful stereotypes. “It was for me the part of the Shang-Chi comics that I personally really connected to,” Cretton said. “It was really important for us to find the root of that anger and that pain. That was the goal from the get-go, and probably the number one fear of all of us was creating a Mandarin that was further contributing to the ‘Yellow Peril’ type of stereotypes that are still flying around.”

    Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings will premiere in Los Angeles on August 16, 2021, and is scheduled to be released in the United States on September 3, as part of Phase Four of the MCU. This news first appeared at Empire Online.

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