Iron Man 3 Delivered The Mandarin Twist 10 Years Ago

Iron Man 3 divided fans with its bold twist.

Ben Kingsley as Mandarin in Iron Man 3

Iron Man 3 hit theaters ten years ago, in 2013. The third installment in the Iron Man franchise is the seventh film in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU). It stars Robert Downey Jr. as Tony Stark, a billionaire industrialist who becomes the superhero Iron Man. The movie was directed by Shane Black and written by Drew Pearce and Black. One of the most talked-about aspects of Iron Man 3 was the twist surrounding the character of the Mandarin. In the comics, the Mandarin is a powerful villain with ten rings and various mystical powers. However, in the movie, the Mandarin is portrayed as a terrorist leader who claims responsibility for a series of bombings in the United States.

Halfway through the movie, the Mandarin twist is revealed.

The Mandarin is not a real person but an actor named Trevor Slattery, hired by the real villain, Aldrich Killian (Guy Pearce), to play the part. Killian is the head of Advanced Idea Mechanics (AIM), a group that uses a formula to enhance human beings to superhuman levels.

The twist was controversial among fans.

Many expected a faithful adaptation of the Mandarin from the comics. However, others appreciated the twist for its subversion of expectations and the humor Ben Kingsley’s portrayal of Trevor Slattery provided. The real Mandarin appeared in 2021’s Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings. Actor Tony Leung Chiu-wai plays the iconic and appropriate version of the Mandarin, who is also the father of Shang-Chi.

Kingsley’s appearance in the Shang Chi movie was a pleasant surprise for fans of the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU). He reprised his role as Trevor Slattery, the fake Mandarin from Iron Man 3, in a comedic yet significant role. In the movie, Trevor lives in a remote compound, seemingly repentant for his past actions. However, he is soon recruited by Shang Chi and his friends to help them on their mission to stop the real Mandarin, Wenwu. Kingsley’s performance as Trevor provides some lighthearted moments in an otherwise intense and action-packed movie. His character also connects to the wider MCU and ties in with the ongoing storyline of the Ten Rings organization.

The Mandarin twist in Iron Man 3 also ties into one of the movie’s themes: perception versus reality. Throughout the film, Tony Stark struggles with anxiety and PTSD after the events of The Avengers, and he relies heavily on his Iron Man suit to protect him. However, in the end, he realizes that he doesn’t need the suit to be a hero and that his true strength comes from within.

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Sean Tajipour is the Founder and Editor of Nerdtropolis and the host of the Moviegoers Society Podcast. He is also a member of the Critics Choice Association. You can follow on Twitter and Instagram @Seantaj.

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