While most Marvel movie fans’ thoughts are leaning towards outer space ahead of next week’s Guardians of the Galaxy, Marvel Studios’ President Kevin Feige dropped some intriguing statements about the future of two Earth-bound villains previously thought dead or imaginary. In an interview with IGN’s Roth Cornet, Feige said that both the Red Skull and the Mandarin could return down the road; in the latter’s case, the real Mandarin – appearing for the first time.
“There have been [talks]. That's one of the reasons we wanted to do the fun short that Drew Pearce wrote and directed,” Feige said, referring to the Marvel One-Shot All Hail The King. “That was to clarify, 'Hey, just because we did this thing doesn't mean this other thing doesn't exist.' And as we were making Iron Man 3 -- and I think Drew's spoken about this -- that was always our intention, was that Aldrich Killian was perverting the notion of these things he's heard."
Feige goes on to state that while Iron Man 3 featured an actor playing the Mandarin (played by Ben Kingsley), it was hinted that his role was based on rumors and hearsay in the criminal underworld. In the aforementioned All Hail The King short, Kingsley’s actor character, Trevor Slattery, is kidnapped from prison by an agent of the real Mandarin and the Ten Rings organization, impersonating a documentary filmmaker.
"[In Iron Man 3], there's a little bit of that when he's doing his detective work in his lab after Happy's been injured outside the Chinese Theater. He's talking about, 'Okay, the Mandarin is taken from various iconographies and mythologies from across the world.' The idea was always there was somebody like this. There had been rumors of somebody like this, and Aldrich Killian just built on that, to make his version."
For the Red Skull, Feige says that the character’s death at the end of the first Captain America was intended to be inconclusive.
“Well, the way we showed his 'demise' in The First Avenger was to showcase to people that he could perhaps pop up again sometime," Feige stated. "I honestly don't know when or where that would be."
Hugo Weaving, who played the Red Skull in Captain America: The First Avenger, has stated that he signed on for a multi-picture deal with Marvel. But during a promotional interview in 2013 for The Hobbit, Weaving was openly dismissive of reprising his role, saying that “it’s not something I would want to do again.”