While promoting the upcoming Ender’s Game, Sir Ben Kingsley recently revealed that he is working on a “secret Marvel project.” Neither he nor Marvel would comment further, much less confirm that he would reprise his role as the Mandarin. SPOILERS FOR IRON MAN 3 AHEAD
Kingsley appeared as long time Iron Man villain, the Mandarin, earlier this year in Iron Man 3. His role as the main villain was heavily promoted and teased in the trailers and posters for the movie. All of which turned out to be misdirection as the movie version of the Mandarin turned out to be an out of work actor named Trevor Slattery dressed in a costume as part of an elaborate ruse by the film’s true villain. Iron Man 3 left Trevor’s fate uncertain leaving open the possibility that he could return.
Given fan outcry over the perceived ‘wasting’ of an iconic villain, it seems unlikely that the normally source-material-accurate Marvel movie-verse would completely abandon the Mandarin’s potential. Given what has happened in previous movies, it does not seem implausible that another evil organization could pick up the Mandarin idea and run with it. Or maybe Trevor could get his hands on some real magic rings that give him the Mandarin’s comic book powers. Or maybe the reveal in Iron Man 3 was a double bluff and Trevor really is the Mandarin pretending to be an actor posing as a fake Mandarin. Considering that Marvel’s current undertaking marks the most ambitious attempt yet to translate comic book logic to the big screen and that 2012’s The Avengers alone brought in over $1.5 billion worldwide, nothing seems implausible at this point.
If the plan is to bring the Mandarin back in some capacity in time for Avengers: Age of Ultron, Marvel and Disney will have ample opportunity to tease his return among Thor: The Dark World, Captain America: The Winter Soldier, and Guardians of the Galaxy as well as the TV show Agents of Shield on ABC.