In 2010, Jon Favreau wasn’t out of the Iron Man business yet when he announced that Iron Man 3 had to have The Mandarin. It made sense. After all, it’s the most formidable opponent Tony Stark ever went up against. Plus, there have been small hints and references to the Chinese baddie since the opening of the first film.

There hasn’t been an official announcement, but all news has been leading to the obvious: that The Mandarin will be the villain in Shane Black‘s movie. First, it was rumored that Sir Ben Kingsley might be on board to fight Robert Downey Jr.,  according to Variety, The Walt Disney Company China will co-produce alongside Marvel and DMG Entertainment. DMG will oversee the production in China as well as distribution in the country.

Is there any doubt at this point that The Mandarin will be the villain? There were some unconfirmed “insider” reports that the production wasn’t looking to The Mandarin, but with China in play, Kingsley as a clear (albeit non-Chinese) choice for a role like this, and the earlier nods within the storyline, either it’s definitely him, or this is a massive head fake from Marvel. Shoe money is on the former.

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