Ben Kingsley has officially confirmed that he is returning to the Marvel Cinematic Universe for Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings, after making a big splash with his 2013 debut.
The Oscar-winning actor first collaborated with Marvel Studios on Iron Man 3, where the trailers depicted him as the armoured hero’s comic book nemesis, The Mandarin.
However, fans were shocked to discover in the film that this was all an elaborate ruse devised by scientist Aldrich Killian (Guy Pearce) and that Kingsley’s actual role was bumbling British actor Trevor Slattery.
It was a twist that divided the fanbase straight down the middle, with some enjoying the subversion of expectations and others detesting the sharp deviation from comic book lore.
Trevor’s return to the MCU was first teased in Blu-ray short film All Hail The King and now it’s finally here; read on to hear what Kingsley has to say about his Shang-Chi role and a refresher on his character’s journey so far.
Is Ben Kingsley in Shang-Chi?
Yes! After months of rumours, it has now been confirmed that Ben Kingsley does have a role in Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings – by the man himself, no less.
The actor attended the world premiere of the film alongside Simu Liu, Awkwafina and the rest of the cast, later speaking to Entertainment Tonight to thank the team behind Iron Man 3 for setting up his MCU return.
“As you just saw, I was talking to Kevin Feige and thanks to Kevin and Robert Downey Jr and Drew Pearce and Shane Black, I am in this movie and I’m a member of the Marvel family, because their welcome on Iron Man 3 was so astonishing and generous that I’m still with Marvel again,” he said. “And I’m delighted to be here!”
The extent of Kingsley’s involvement in Shang-Chi is still to be revealed, with most fans assuming he will take a cameo rather than a full-fledged supporting role.
Who does Ben Kingsley play in the MCU? The Mandarin connection explained
The return of Ben Kingsley to the Marvel Cinematic Universe is not a huge surprise given his character’s strong connection with Shang-Chi’s primary villain, The Mandarin (Tony Leung).
In Iron Man 3, he is initially depicted as The Mandarin himself, becoming a sworn enemy of Tony Stark after committing a series of terrorist attacks, one of which seriously injures Happy Hogan (Jon Favreau).
However, it later emerges that Kingsley is not the scheming criminal mastermind he seems, but instead is a dim-witted actor named Trevor Slattery being used as a pawn by AIM scientist Aldrich Killian.
At the end of the film, Slattery is sent to prison for being an accomplice in Killian’s crimes, but his story is continued in Marvel Studios short film All Hail The King (released as a bonus feature on the Thor: The Dark World blu-ray).
The one-shot sees Slattery serving time in Seagate Prison, where he is interviewed by supposed journalist Jackson Norriss (Scoot McNairy), who is later revealed to be an undercover member of the Ten Rings terrorist organisation.
Norriss informs him that his imitation of The Mandarin has angered the Ten Rings and ultimately breaks him out of prison to take him to the real crime lord i.e. Shang-Chi villain, played by Leung.
Many fans have theorised that that Slattery will be killed off in Shang-Chi as The Mandarin takes revenge for his disrespect, but there’s always a chance he could slip from his grasp.
It’s unclear if All Hail The King was always intended as a prologue to Shang-Chi or if Marvel was still figuring out exactly what relevance it would play down the line, but the resumption of this plot thread will be gratifying to longtime viewers.
Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings is released in UK cinemas on Friday 3rd September. Before then, check out how to watch the Marvel movies in order, take a look at some more of our Film coverage or visit our TV Guide to see what’s on tonight.