Rumor of the Day: This is Ben Kingsley's secret Marvel project

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Oct 29, 2013, 1:07 PM EDT (Updated)

We already knew Ben Kingsley would be back for at least one more Marvel project, and now a new report claims to know exactly what that project is.

Kingsley said last week that he's working with Marvel Studios on a "secret" project that involved some of the crew from Iron Man 3, but he wouldn't say any more than that. The news spawned a number of fan theories, and though Marvel itself hasn't yet chimed in to confirm or deny anything, Latino Review believes it knows what's really going on. 

According to that site, the people who guessed that Kingsley's Trevor Slattery character -- who played the Mandarin on behalf of the real Iron Man 3 villain, Aldrich Killian -- would be back for a Marvel One-Shot short film are correct. Kingsley will indeed reprise the role for a short, but that's only part of the story. The same Latino Review report also claims that the short will feature the real Mandarin, who will show up angry that his good name has been sullied by an actor, and attempt to "set the record straight" about who he really is.

It might just be an attempt to cater to fans who lambasted Iron Man 3 for turning a legendary Marvel villain into nothing but a hoax, but that premise also sounds somewhat similar to the re-appearance of the Mandarin in Matt Fraction and Salvador Larroca's Invincible Iron Man Annual #1 from 2010, in which the supervillain kidnaps a filmmaker and forces him to tell his life story, whie examining several alternate versions of that life story along the way. Not only was that issue critically acclaimed, but it also presented a version of the character that was far more sophisticated and nuanced than his original Marvel Comics appearances. Of course, we don't know if Marvel Studios is keeping that comic in mind at all right now, but the thematic similarities to this report are intriguing.

So, could we really be seeing the real Mandarin popping up in the Marvel Cinematic Universe soon? And if so, does that mean he's set to be Tony Stark's opponent in the as-yet-uncertain Iron Man 4, or even a foe of Earth's Mightiest Heroes combined in Avengers 3

Nothing is certain yet, but go ahead and make your Mandarin dream casting list, just in case.

(Latino Review via ScreenCrush)