Yesterday Marvel Studios and Disney dropped a teaser trailer and a poster for their upcoming film Shang Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings. After the dust had settled, we know more about the plot and characters. Including Tony Leung‘s mysterious character: The Mandarin.
The 58 year-old actor is an A-lister in Hong Kong cinema. He has been in such classics as In the Mood for Love, Chungking Express, and Internal Affairs, which Martin Scorsese’s The Departed is based on. Leung brings a lot of gravitas to all of his roles and it is certainly exciting to see him playing the main villain in an MCU film.
A villain that was originally supposed to be in the first Marvel film: Iron Man. However, after long consideration, The Mandarin was left out of that film, and then teased greater in Iron Man 3. However, nearly a decade in a half later, the MCU is introducing this villain played by a veteran actor.
It makes sense that they waited and it was probably for the best, as in 2008 who knows what their portrayal of the character would have been like. In the comics, the Mandarin, Fu Manchu, and a plethora of other comics characters have long complicated and somewhat racist histories. The latest Marvel installment is trying to avoid that.
Originally, Shang Chi’s father is Fu Manchu, but, we know from the teaser that Wenwu aka the Mandarin will be Shang Chi’s father. He will try to sway Shang Chi to join the Ten Rings organization. It is obviously a dynamic that we have seen before, but it is certainly a complex relationship that will hopefully be expanded throughout the MCU.
The Mandarin is a huge villain. He is essentially the Joker to Iron Man’s Batman, and while he has been teased twice throughout the last decade, it is enthralling to see him done right this time around. They are focused on doing this character justice, and avoiding the racial stereotypes of the past.
Director Destin Daniel Cretton had this to say about Leung’s performance, he says that “Tony [Leung] opened this character up [so] this is an antagonist who has a deep ability to love.”
Shang Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings is set to hit theaters on September 3, 2021.