Marvel is a company that always has a lot going on. This past year, Disney+ gave the studio a new playground and many surprises. They now have a platform to better explore some of their growing cinematic universe in new ways. After some work from one of Giant Freakin Robot’s trusted and proven inside sources, we have now learned that a Mandarin prequel is currently in development for Disney+.
The Mandarin has been seen in the comics and on-screen now in a few different ways. Shang-Chi both helped make some clarifications on the background behind the title originally awarded to a supervillain in the comics, and confused the backstory a little more. It’s going to be interesting to see how the Mandarin prequel handles these challenges, and just exactly what story they’re planning to tell. In Shang-Chi, actor Tony Leung is introduced as Xu Wenwu, the father of Shang-Chi and the leader of the Ten Rings criminal franchise. He is loosely based on The Mandarin as seen in the Marvel comics, but he rejects that moniker.
Meanwhile, Iron Man 3 introduced Ben Kingsley as The Mandarin. His character wasn’t really what he appeared to be. In short, that movie saw Ben Kingsley as The Mandarin, later revealed to be Trevor Slattery, an actor playing the role of a supervillain. Other players were pulling that character’s strings. He is eventually put in prison. The character returned in Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings, mostly to play a sidekick type character who adds a lot of laughs.
Will the Mandarin prequel be covering the story of Ben Kingsley’s character or that of Shang-Chi’s father, Xu Wenwu, who more accurately portrays the supervillain but who rejected the title in Shang-Chi? In the film, he said that The Mandarin sounded like “a chicken dish”. He made it sound like the title didn’t live up to his own legacy and he found it distasteful. While he rejected the title, his character brings in a lot more of the back story as seen in the comics. Ben Kingsley’s Trevor Slattery has often been a hit with fans, largely because he’s an amusing sidekick, but he isn’t really The Mandarin. It seems most likely that the Mandarin prequel will be telling more of Xu Wenwu’s story. While much of his life was shown in Shang-Chi, the period of time where he ran a crime syndicate was largely unshown. That seems like a ripe source of material for a prequel series full of high-stakes drama. That’s a story that could finally tell of The Mandarin’s life as a villain.
This news comes to Giant Freakin Robot shortly after Deadline made the announcement that Destin Daniel Cretton is currently working on a mysterious new Marvel series for Disney+. As he is the director for Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings, where both characters who could hold The Mandarin mantle were recently seen, it seems very likely that this current project is the Mandarin prequel our insider has learned of. However, keep in mind that is only speculation. We were unable to confirm that the two are one and the same, though it does make a lot of sense. Who better to write and direct the Mandarin prequel than Destin Daniel Cretton?