MCU Phase 4: Who Will Replace Thanos To Be The Next Big Bad Villain?

Avengers Infinity War is about to hit theaters worldwide and Thanos is on his way to destroy half the humanity. He will collect all six Infinity stones and gains control over cosmic singularities that makes all existence possible. He will literally become the most powerful cosmic entity. But make no mistake, he will be defeated and humanity will be saved although the scars will be deep.

The next big question for MCU is – Who can possibly replace Thanos going forward? We know our pick won’t be chosen but just read on why it makes sense…

Everyone remembers Iron Man 3, do we not. In the close to one of the first ever character arcs started by the MCU, we see Tony Stark go through perhaps one of the most complex character development stories we have ever seen on the silver screen.

The hubris and over-inflated ego of Anthony Stark Jr. is first satiated by the general public and then broken by Aldrich Killian under the veil of Mandarin. But why does this happen? Why does a businessman such as Aldrich heading A.I.M. and on the cusp of cutting-edge organic augmentations choose to veil himself as a terrorist and then attack Tony Stark and tries to destroy Iron Man?

Well, you see the plan was twofold. Killian had been conducting illegal human experiments to perfect his Extremis virus. The Extremis virus raised the metabolism and body temperature of individuals to unprecedented levels, giving the test subjects immense strength and superhuman powers like pyromancy.

Although the powers sound cool and would have made Aldrich Killian a billionaire if he played his cards right but the road to development of extremis was paved with the death of innocents. A series of failed acceptances of the drug during the trial phase had caused unanticipated explosions in A.I.M. laboratories on US soil.

This had prompted the Agents of SHIELD under the ground leadership of Agent Phil Coulson to undertake an investigation of the said explosions. The team had encountered certain individuals with extremis like capabilities during their investigation but never had conclusive proof of the workings behind the explosions. The SHIELD had not been able to complete their investigation when the Mandarin videos were released at the start of Iron Man 3.

You see, Aldrich Killian needed someone to take responsibility for extremis explosions, so his think tank thought that who better to take the blame than a custom-made terror threat. The best kind of lies are the one with a smidge of truth in them. What Killian thought up was brought to life by the characterization of Mandarin played slyly by Trevor Slattery in the MCU.

The fans had their minds blown by the first Iron Man 3 trailer ad largely expected to see a full powered Mandarin in all of his magical glory. But the movie’s unexpected climax of representing the Mandarin in the guise of Trevor Slattery was largely condemned by fans. So what is the real scenario? How do we proceed from here?

Well you see, Marvel released a one-shot short movie after Iron Man 3 titled “All hail the King”. During the events of “All hail the king” we meet Trevor Slattery in prison. Hugely popular ever since his stint in iron man 3 as the Mandarin, the failed actor rules the jail as a popular attraction among one of the gangs. His interviewer talks to the man about who Trevor Slattery is and discusses the consequences of the actor’s actions on the behalf of Aldrich Killian and Trevor’s own role in the Mandarin videos.

And that is exactly what Trevor argues, that it was merely a role. A job a drifting drug addict actor was offered, along with more drugs of course. The entire thing was a sham from the start, neither Killian nor anyone else in A.I.M. had any connection to the Mandarin or the ten rings. The symbolism used by the Mandarin videos was lifted from mass media and random conspiracy theories.

The interviewer pauses and then stands and removes his coat, all the while addressing the incarcerated actor. And at the end of the questioning a gun pops out from the camera recording the interview and lands in the hands of the interviewer who proceeds to dispose off of Trevor’s protection and then threatens the struggling actor turned America’s newest scandal against their first superhero whether Trevor Slattery ever considered the truth of the role he is playing. It’s not a real interview, this man is not a journalist or a researcher, his job is to break Trevor Slattery out.

“Marvel One-Shot: All Hail the King (2014)

Jackson Norris: I’m not the one that’s going to kill you, Mr. Slattery. I’m here to break you out.

Trevor Slattery: That’s… nice?

Jackson Norris: Not really. You see, there’s somebody who wants to meet you.

Trevor Slattery: Do I know him?

Jackson Norris: No. But you took his name… and now he wants it back.”

The official word is that All hail the king was released because the fans were angry about Mandarin’s treatment in Iron Man 3 so the studio reassured fans that this real Mandarin, the real leader of the Ten rings, is still out there. That Iron man’s real arch enemy is at large and he is aware of the Ten Rings, the ancient Marvel-verse artifacts of great power. But this begs the question.


The ten rings is a terrorist organization within the Marvel Cinematic Universe and the Marvel comics. The organization works in ten separate cells, each cell receives weapons and funding from the leader and they only have one contact in the other cells.

The ten different units never know who the other members of the cells are. They only know men in their units and function independently off of each other. Hence, The ten rings. Raza, the terrorist who kidnapped Stark in iron man was also a general of a rather extremist faction of the ten rings.  This clandestine organization exists under the leadership of Mandarin.

The magician and overlord of the entire underworld of the earth. He is the final boss when it comes to crime and unrest in society. A lowly magician and illusionist raised himself to the level of the biggest threat to iron man. Magic vs Technology isn’t that how the syllogisms go in comics.

However, where does this name and idea of this organization come from. And why is this guy out for blood in such an obscure and aggressive way? Well, you see the entire idea of Mandarin and the ten rings comes from the ancient artifacts in the Marvel comic verse.

Ten rings of great power found by Mandarin. Each ring carrying a different power and the soul of the warriors from whom the ring was received. The soul of all the beings who give the rings their powers. This means that the rings may possess nigh unlimited power and may as well be the next cosmic event of Marvel cinematic universe.

Alright, so let’s review everything we know. There is a man out there operating a clandestine unit made up of ten different cells, each fighting for different objectives as guided by their leaders. Mainly the objective of the organization seems to be world domination and the supremacy of their leader Mandarin. But how does this terrorist become a cosmic level threat like Thanos in infinity war? All of that depends solely on the arc of the rings.

As it stands today, it seems that Avengers Infinity War will use the reality stone to alter the universe’s timeline and allow the studio to recast crucial characters because of actors leaving upon their contracts ending.. The prevailing theory suggests that Chris Evans’ Captain America will receive a hero’s death in Avengers 4 and upon the reboot the character arcs will start over bringing in new faces to e Marvel cinematic universe. This also means new origin movies and crucial background details of old characters such as Black Widow and Nick Fury.


This means that Marvel might start showcasing the Mandarin rings as points of conflict during these movies making use of Ten rings as their primary antagonists or rather masterminds behind the next set of perpetrators in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

It would be rather interesting to see the character of Mandarin to take the center stage in the next phase. We might even see how powerful the rings could actually be. So go on Marvel, blow our minds.

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Vidit Sood

He's the biggest comic nerd from QB!
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