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Ben Kingsley Has His Own Idea About Iron Man 3's Mandarin
Posted by Jeremy Thomas on 08.27.2014

Warning: Iron Man 3 and Marvel One-Shot: All Hail the King spoilers follow.

Among the Marvel Cinematic Universe films, few are more controversial than Iron Man 3. The most recent Tony Stark adventure made huge money at the box office (to the tune of $1.2 billion worldwide) but polarized fans because of its use of the Mandarin...specifically, the reveal that Ben Kingsley's Trevor Slattery was only an actor and that Guy Pierce's Aldrich Killian claimed to be the real Mandarin toward the end of the film. The Marvel One-Shot All Hail the King threw an additional wrinkle into the situation when Trevor was broken out of jail on orders of the actual Mandarin, which mollified some but also drew criticism as an after-the-fact retcon.

Kingsley, it turns out, has his own theory about the Mandarin and it hearkens back to a 1990s crime classic: The Usual Suspects. While speaking with IGN about his role in The Boxtrolls, Kingsley suggested that Trevor may be the Mandarin after all. It's important to note that he says he's speculating on his own, not teasing anything he knows from Marvel. Check out the highlights of the interview:

On if we'll see Trevor again: "[Audiences may] always see Trevor in whatever figure [he plays]. So, it's up to the powers that be to decide whether or not they'd want to introduce Trevor, whether or not they'd want to reintroduce the Mandarin."

On the possibility that Trevor really is the Mandarin: "Has the Mandarin invented Trevor, or has Trevor invented the Mandarin? Which is which? The Mandarin could be so supremely intelligent that he could have said, 'You know what? I'll invent this actor, and he will be my mask.' You know, which is which? Who's pulling the strings. Now, this is me just free-thinking here, but I would love to revisit that world. But Trev, bless him, may have made an indelible mark on that world. So everyone might say, 'Is it Trev under there?' So they'd have to approach it quite carefully, and so would I, but I would love to go back to that world, yeah."

On his experience with Comic-Con this year: "My first visit to Comic-Con was with this project [Boxtrolls]. And we were all kept fairly in our bubble in terms of the vehicles, the hotel, even walking through the kitchens -- and I felt fine. It was no big deal. But then on the streets and when I walked on stage, I was quite surprised at the reception. I really was. It was an eye-opener, because I realized that things that I create are hitting a group of people that really love it and they're enthused by it. It's their mythology. It's their story. It's their contemporary way of sharing stories and dressing up and enthusing. Enthusiasm's wonderful. It's a great thing. I was very touched by how benign and innocent it is. That's what really struck me, because people were saying, 'It's crazy! It's crazy!' And I was a little bit nervous thinking, 'You mean crazy-aggressive?' But is was so benign -- so friendly, so enthusiastic. It's sweet. It really is."

On the rise of comic book films: "It's not to do with exploration. It's not to do with tribal warfare -- it's more galactic warfare. But it is more to do with gods and goddesses, and that has hit a nerve for some reason. The audience will find a focus. Somehow the comic books evolved and just hit that archetype -- I don't know whether they're archetypes, but it's nudging on mythology. It's nudging on Zeus and Apollo and Medea and all those extraordinary creatures from very, very ancient mythology. I think that perhaps -- some time ago I coined a rather pretentious phrase -- I'm quite good at that -- saying that we have given over our mythology to the advertising men. I think that did happen, that suddenly everything got broken up and trivialized and shallow. Aspirations were all about the makeup and the vehicle and the dress and the shoes. It's still present, but the ad men just started appropriating mythology in the wrong way, using superlatives for things that are quite trivial and everyday and shouldn't be in that place. I think, honestly, the good, healthy audience has said, 'You know what? We've had enough of this. Give us values. Give us good and evil and morality and ethics and that horrible gray bit in the middle. Give us that.'"


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