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Ben Kingsley's Secret Marvel Project Is A Mandarin-Focused One Shot

by Drew Taylor
October 29, 2013 9:22 AM
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One of the more tantalizing unrealized moments from Shane Black's terrific "Iron Man 3," that was revealed during the lead-up to the film's home video release: Ben Kingsley's Mandarin character (in actuality a druggy London stage actor named Trevor Slattery), mistakenly injects himself with the Extremis virus, a virus that turns people into human bombs (he thought it was just some really good shit). Slattery walks out onto the oil tanker where the big action set piece happens and spontaneously explodes. It's a shocking, wonderful moment and its deletion made us wonder if Marvel has other plans for the character. It turns out, they do.

Kingsley made waves last week when he told an Irish paper that he was in a "secret project" for Marvel. "I’m not allowed to say any more, you’re going to have to wait and see,” he told the Belfast Telegraph. "I was with many members of the crew that were involved in 'Iron Man 3.' It was lovely to see them again. It was great to be with this wonderful family. I think they have enormous taste as creative artists. There’s nothing lazy or gratuitous about their work. They are at the top of their game, and they’re great company to keep.”

Apparently, according to Latino Review, Marvel wants to make amends to those it offended with turning one of the Iron Man canon's most feared villains into a really clever punch line. In the short film (one of the "One Shot" minis that usually accompany Marvel home video releases but could easily be an added bonus to an episode of "Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.") the real Mandarin comes looking for Slattery, appalled at the actor for disgracing his name. Who plays the real Mandarin? What bearing does this have on the Marvel cinematic universe considering the Iron Man character will more or less be confined to the "Avengers" movies for the next few years? Who knows. But it still sounds pretty cool.

The Mandarin reveal was one of the better surprises in summer movies this year, and while Marvel backpedaling is kind of a wimpy move, hopefully it will garner a nifty little short film. While you're waiting, why don't you watch a gag reel where Kingsley tries on a bunch of different, equally hilarious accents. It'll probably make you giggle.


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More: Iron Man 3, Ben Kingsley, Marvel

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  • Washington | October 29, 2013 5:46 PMReply

    What an utter betrayal of such a classic racist stereotype.

  • JMan616 | October 30, 2013 3:04 AM

    Because as we all know, he supports that age old stereotype that all Asians were mad scientists with alien technology, super marital artists, and had no true national allegiance and were out for their own interests to conquer the world. I know it must have been really hard for people to shake off such a compelling and harrowingly believable conception, but I'm glad we made it past such days!

    Sorry, sorry, I couldn't resist.

    Though in all seriousness he did have pretty ridiculous visuals (though that's more to blame on artist Don Heck than the Character's true creator Stan Lee) I've never founds his characterization to be inherently racist in spite of questionable/stereotypical visual motifs early on. His characterization put under analysis being more along the lines of Dr. Doom than Fu Manchu in a way. Fu Manchu very specifically targeted white people and western philosophy and was written by Sax Rohmer as a man fighting for the collective interest of the "Yellow Menace". Infiltrating and hurting the whites. And was said to be evil essentially because he was the "Most Asian of Asians." The Mandarin is a conqueror based upon the status he was born to/his lineage he was born to, who is a threat to everybody and subjugated members of his own race/nation long before ever doing anything to the west. (And he is bitter/cruel/evil because of the harsh up brining by his aunt in a quasi-militaristic lifestyle who was bitter towards him because he was set to the family fortune she thought was rightfully hers, and was later evicted from his home by the communists.) His belief being that his birth status (and his relation to the world's greatest conqueror Genghis Khan) made him believe he had the right to not only take over the world, but also shape it in whatever way he saw fit. (Ex: "Hands of the Mandarin" & "Haunted") Which is a great contrast to Tony Stark who doesn't uses his prestige/wealth as an excuse to have power over others, but uses it to help those that The Mandarin would say were "beneath" him. And he was even presented as a rival to the communists. That all is in part is why I personally don't think the character is an irredeemable racist caricature. That all being a far cry from Fu Manchu. He was not written as a representation of his race like the characters of the true "Golden Age" of the Yellow Peril were, with there just being evil because of what they looked like essentially. (That being more around both ends of the turn of the 20th Century while Mandarin was created in the 1960's) That along with the fact that there are legitimate thematic reasons for why Mandarin works well as Tony's arch-nemesis are the reasons I don't think what Marvel did was a good idea. (Hell, Denny O'nei has explicitly stated that Ra's Al Ghul was modeled on Fu Manchu, yet I never see that character get scrutinized as much.)

    Though naturally that's all just in my own opinion.

  • NO THANKS | October 29, 2013 12:44 PMReply

    I still think the Mandarin twist was a shitty thing. It ruined the movie. Till then it was brilliant, no doubt. Ben Kinglsey was really awesome, Guy Pearce was awesome in his decoy character. MARVEL should have stopped at that.

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