Ben Kingsley: The Mandarin Is Not The Man We Thought

Iron Man 3 had its share of surprises when it was released back in May of 2013, nearly a year and a half ago. The biggest shock no doubt came from Ben Kingsley’s portrayal of Mandarin, perhaps Iron Man’s biggest foe in the comics world. But is the Mandarin in that film really the man that was portrayed on film? Ben Kingsley doesn’t think so.

SPOILER ALERT for Iron Man 3: If you have not seen the film or know the twist that occurs two-thirds of the way through the film, this is your final moment to turn back before you get spoiled.

Quick recap: The Mandarin in Iron Man 3, as portrayed by Sir Ben Kingsley, is nothing but an actor named Trevor Slattery, who was hired by the true villain of the film (Aldrich Killian) in order to further his own agenda. Instead of the chilling performance we were promised by Marvel, we were instead treated to perhaps the biggest punchline in Marvel cinematic history, wherein Ben Kingsley portrayed a bubble-headed, drug-addicted, womanizing British actor with no more spine than that of a slug.

The backlash was immense. Fans were distraught at the notion that the clues of The Ten Rings left in the first film in 2008 had gone to waste just to make a joke — not to mention the decades of comic book history that was flushed down the toilet in the process. However, back in February, we were treated to the Marvel short All Hail the King, which followed Ben Kingsley’s character after he was arrested at the end of Iron Man 3. Without spoiling, it strongly hinted (read: outright said) that the real Mandarin was still out there somewhere.

A few days ago, in an interview with IGN, Sir Ben Kingsley touched even further on the subject, implying potential further intrigue for the character in the Marvel Cinematic Future:

“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.”

So will we see Ben Kingsley and the real Mandarin the next Iron Man flick? Only time will tell. But the table has been set for that possibility, and it’s a joy to know that the actor will be game should the time arrive.