Fans of the Iron Man comics caught the allusions between Faran Tahir's Ten Rings organization and the classic Iron Man villain The Mandarin in Iron Man, and had hopes that we might see Tahir's Raza either interract with, or possibly become the Mandarin in the sequel. In an interview with SCI FI Wire Tahir says that he isn't in Iron Man 2, but says that appearing in the future is still a possibility.
"We're still talking about it," Tahir said in an exclusive phone interview on Thursday. "It hasn't been finalized yet, so we'll see. The character didn't die in the first one, and it is part of a larger story. Iron Man's biggest nemesis is Mandarin, and my character is the only reference to Mandarin. So we're still trying to figure out how it's going to fit. The things to consider, I think, are that if it is a bigger story, how much of it is exposed [and] when.
That begs the question of whether Raza is simply the leader of the Ten Rings, who in turn work for the Mandarin, or possibly Raza actually is the Mandarin himself. "Is he the conduit to Mandarin?" Tahir said. "Does he become Mandarin? Is it just another leader of the Ten Rings, you know, thing? All the allusions [in] my first speech was all about Genghis Khan and all that, which is Mandarin's thing, you know? So I think they have created the character and the storyline very wisely. To leave it as open as possible so whatever they need to, you know, pull from, they will."
In the comics, the Mandarin is a Chinese warlord who finds ten magic rings (that later turn out to actually be alien artifacts). Using those rings, the Mandarin forges an enormous underworld empire, and the Mandarin frequently clashes with Iron Man, along with other superheroes.
Tahir did end with expressing his interest in returning, and possibly becoming one of Iron Man's most deadly enemies. "Of course I would," he said. "Yeah, yeah, we'll see. We'll see."
Iron Man 2, directed by Jon Favreau, will continue the tale of Tony Stark and his armored alter-ego as he continues his transformation from billionaire industrialist to super-hero. Robert Downey, Jr. will star as Tony Stark, with Gwynety Paltrow returning in the role of his assistant Pepper Potts. Don Cheadle, Mickey Rourke, Sam Rockwell, Scarlett Johansson and Samuel L. Jackson also star. Iron Man 2 blasts into theatres May 7, 2010.