There is no denying that the prime agenda of the recently released Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings is to debut a new hero in the Marvel Cinematic Universe after we lost the likes of Captain America, Iron Man, Black Widow, and Vision (who will be back) in the last phase.
So, up until much later in the second half of the film, all that is connecting the film to the past MCU features is an offhand remark about the Blip.
But then we come across the most surprising cameo in the film- Trevor Slattery (Ben Kingsley), whose addition in the film is no mere afterthought and is definitely much more than a happy coincidence.
Trevor Slattery from Iron Man 3 to Shang-Chi
Trevor Slattery’s first appearance in the MCU was in Iron Man 3 where Guy Pearce’s Aldrich Killian hired him to pose as Xu Wenwu, the real leader of the Ten Rings, under the pseudonym “The Mandarin.”
He unwittingly became the face of the deadly explosions caused by Killian’s Extremis project and was used to strike terror in the heart of Americans.
The Ten Rings and its leader, which already has a problematic representation in the comics, received a further skewered portrayal in the film which was then twisted into a fake display, thus serving to reinforce Marvel’s penchant for shying away from inclusivity and instead, giving in to stereotypes.
Given the less than a satisfactory reaction to this twist, Marvel began its procedure of undoing their own mistakes with the one-shot, All Hail the King, which featured Trevor in prison and a documentary filmmaker dropping in to visit him.
He turns out to be a member of the real Ten Rings who relayed the message that its true leader is angry with Trevor for daring to impersonate him.
He proceeded to kill the guards and broke Trevor out of prison so he could face the consequences of his actions.
This not only established that Marvel didn’t tease the Mandarin in vain but also confirmed that he is much more formidable than the watered-down portrayal by Trevor.
With Shang-Chi, Marvel has not only presented an exceptional adaptation of the Ten Rings sans its racist stereotypical origin in the comics but also made sure that the errors committed by Iron Man 3 and Iron Man (which wrongfully introduced the Ten Rings as a terrorist organization instead of debuting it via the mythical force of power it commanded).
On one hand, Wenwu’s mocking comments about Killian fabricating the name Mandarin- “He gave me the name of a chicken dish. It worked. America was afraid of an orange”- pitching a phoney leader of the Ten Rings concludes the divisive twist in Iron Man 3, rectifies the character’s earlier inappropriate representation in the MCU and establishes the proper origin story of the organization while neatly sidestepping all the issues attached to it.
Him mocking the name “Mandarin”-
On the other hand, the fact that Trevor has been reduced to surviving as a court jester for Wenwu further nullifies the importance of his stint as the Ten Rings’ leader and presents him as a much more likeable character now that he is free from the burden of the Mandarin/Ten Rings’ dodgy debut.
Trevor’s future in the MCU?
Given his attachment to the mystical face-less creature, Morris, and his search for asylum as he is still an escaped convict associated with the terrorist organization A.I.M., it is more than plausible that he will stay behind in Ta-Lo.
He is no fighter, something which is apparent from the fact that he played dead in the last battle scene in Shang-Chi to escape the prospect of facing the Dweller-in-Darkness and its minions.
Staying in Ta-Lo will ensure his safety and give him complete protection from anything and everything out there.
This means that his next appearance in the MCU is tied with when Ta-Lo is seen again, as it is obvious that the mythical village’s contribution to the over-arching Phase IV storyline is not over.
Whether it is Shang-Chi 2 or whenever (Avengers 5?) whatever entity the Ten Rings are calling out to decides to breach into the MCU dimension, the residents of Ta-Lo (and by default Trevor Slattery) will join hands with Shang-Chi to neutralize the threat, which means that Trevor Slattery will be back too.
But what was the purpose of Trevor Slattery’s appearance?
Was it just for the sake of an Easter egg? Maybe he was brought back because, despite many MCU fans disliking the diabolical Mandarin twist in Iron Man 3, Ben Kingsley was loved as the washed-out actor, Trevor?
Or was it really to rectify the errors of the film, even though the introduction of Tony Leung as Wenwu more than compensated for it?
But as certified MCU fans, we should be well aware that nothing happens in the Marvel universe without some solid future implications.
While Trevor’s inclusion could be an exception, we have to entertain the possibility that his appearance hints at something better and bigger.
It is well known that after SHIELD, Hydra, and the recently introduced SWORD, there is a dearth of shady organizations.
Perhaps Trevor’s presence is a subtle indication that the terrorist organization, AIM, is ready to make a smashing re-entry along with its leader i.e., Aldrich Killian, after all, we never did get to see his charred remains after an incensed Pepper Potts barbequed with a missile.
What do you make of this story? Let us know in the comments below or on our Facebook, Twitter or Instagram pages! And if you enjoy listening to film podcasts, why not check out our podcasts, Small Screen Stories and Small Screen Film Club wherever you get your podcasts!