He is a British stage actor named Trevor Slattery. Trevor was forced to live on the streets after his drug habit bankrupted him, but Aldrich Killian came to him and offered him a new life in exchange for pretending to be "the Mandarin" for the cameras.
"The Mandarin" is the sinister head of the terrorist organization known as The Ten Rings, from which all the acts of extreme terrorism plaguing the world appear to emanate. Although he is reclusive, "The Mandarin" wields great power and makes his presence known by striking fear in the government and the populace through his brazen plans of attack. It is revealed, however, that the terrorist known as "The Mandarin" is nothing more than a front created by Aldrich Killian, as a means of covering the latter's illegal activities. In the final battle between Aldrich Killian and Tony Stark, Killian declares himself as the real "Mandarin" having masterminded the events that would lead to the attack on Tony's residence as well as Pepper's abduction. After the events in which Killian was killed, Trevor was apprehended by the authorities for assisting Killian's organization as well as his portrayal of the supposed terrorist leader.
However, the short "All Hail the King" reveals that the character that Trevor Slattery portrayed is based on a real terrorist. There is a real Mandarin out there, and he's not Slattery or Killian...
The terrorist who was widely known as "The Mandarin" (as portrayed by Trevor Slattery) surrounded himself with Chinese iconography, dragons, and the symbols of warlords. He used many other warrior motifs and symbols and twisted them for his own use, such as Asian royal robes, a terrorist beard, samurai hair, a Captain America shield tattoo with the "A" for "anarchy" on the back of his neck. He also wanted to teach the world lessons, such as the fact that there was no such thing as heroes. Aldrich Killian described this idealized image of "The Mandarin" as being inspired by real life terrorists. In fact, there IS a real Mandarin that isn't Slattery or Killian, and Killian fashioned Slattery after him.
Behind the scenes
Kevin Feige quotes on the character adaptation of The Mandarin in Iron Man 3
- Despite what Kevin Feige has said, neither Slattery nor Killian are the true Mandarin, so the real Mandarin may still have his cosmic rings.
- Iron Man 3 will be more about a clash of technology, Feige says and those who have been paying close attention to the previous two films know that The Ten Rings is a term for the terrorist group that kidnapped Tony Stark in the first movie, and gave the villain Whiplash some assistance in the sequel.
- "A lot of this movie is about characters going back into the shadows for various reasons and characters who have been in the shadows coming out and into the light for the first time," Feige says. "It is Tony who, for various reasons, finds himself receding into the darkness. I don’t mean emotional darkness, I mean literally ducking out of the spotlight. And we’ll see other characters stepping up who have pulled strings from the background, starting to show their hand."
- Kingsley not being Asian is one of the signs that he is not the true Mandarin. Presumably, the real Mandarin is Asian.
- Despite what Feige has said, we don't know the real Mandarin's true intentions.
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