I've yet to hear a legitimate argument against Iron Man 3's "big villain reveal" – in general, rather than any specifics of how this reveal might have been paced or staged – but if you think you have one, now's the time to rehearse it.
According to a new report at Latino Review, which could very well be utterly unsubstantiated rubbish, the studio has plans for The Mandarin that will need very careful handling.
For one thing, this new idea could plunge the Marvel Movieverse into the kind of dodgy representations that Iron Man 3 so deftly swerved. For another, it could really blunt the edge of that film's satirical intent.
From here on out, we're in real spoiler territory so make sure you've seen Iron Man 3 before reading on.
So. According to this new rumour, Sir Ben Kingsley's secret project for Marvel is a One Shot short film in which:
the REAL Mandarin is furious with Aldrich Killian and Ben Kingsley's character Trevor Slattery for the mockery they made of the real Mandarin's identity and legacy. The real Mandarin wants to set the record straight.
Yes, the REAL Mandarin.
Now, Iron Man 3 seems to take place in a world where there is no real Mandarin and this is a good part of the point. This character from the comics was leveraged as the hodge-podge of misbegotten cliches and xenophobic stereotypes that he always was, something created because he passes for a terrorist to the fearful and blinkered, the sheep who need manipulating.
The above One Shot premise could be true and Marvel could still come out of this smelling of roses. For one thing, the "real" Mandarin could be not quite what we're expecting, again, in a new way.
Or maybe they're just thinking of winding back the clock and giving the naysayers the two-dimensional, racist, paranoid nonsense they were baying for in internet forums and message boards around the release of Iron Man 3.
I'm not at all sure Latino Review have this right. If it so happens that they do, I'm then not sure Marvel are on the right track at all.
Incidentally, another big budget action project has Kingsley in mind for a Middle Eastern villain right now. I'm not sure he'll take the role, but more on that soon in any case…