Since the very first rumors of an Iron Man movie, speculation has been rampant as to the main villain. Most of those rumors involved Iron Man's archenemy in the comics, the Mandarin. For the uninitiated, the Mandarin is a Chinese warrior whose main weapons are ten rings that each give him a different power, making him an incredibly formidable foe. Before Iron Man was released, speculation was not about whether he would be the villain, but over who would play him in the film. Even while watching Iron Man, it seemed like they would come close with mention of a terrorist group called the Ten Rings. But here we are in the second movie of the series, and still no Mandarin. That's like doing Batman without the Joker. What gives?

It turns out Jon Favreau has been putting off using the Mandarin because of his concerns over the character. In April's Vanity Fair, he explained his decision. In part, he said:
...if you think a Soviet villain is anachronistic, the way the Mandarin was depicted in the books would be very distasteful, nowadays...to have a guy dressed like a medieval Asian nobleman with ten magical rings did not seem like it fit with what people like about Iron Man. The Mandarin would probably need to be interpreted with a large degree of creative license because it will not look like what's in the comics.
Well, I have to disagree with him there. There is a way to do the Mandarin and not have it be either offensive or out-of-place in Iron Man's world. First of all, the Mandarin doesn't have ten magical rings. If Favreau actually read up on the comics, he would know that the rings are based on alien technology - technology so advanced that it only seems like magic. So they could make the Mandarin a scientist who develops the ten rings based on a new power source or even on the ARC reactor. I mean, Whiplash creates a pair of whips that cut through metal using the ARC reactor. Why can't the Mandarin create an ice ring with it?

The allegations of racism are easily avoided. Of course, you don't have to dress him up in the Fu Manchu outfit. You just need him to be Chinese - maybe a Chinese politician or someone who glorifies the Imperial Chinese era to the point where he names himself the Mandarin. There, problem solved. So get to it, Favreau. Bring on the Mandarin.

Should the Mandarin be in Iron Man 3? Let us know in the comments
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Maurice Mitchell said...

Interestingly, Jon Favreau says the guy that gives Venko the fake papers was a member of the "Ten Rings." I hope he can pull it off. Get an actor like Ken Watanabe (Ra's Al Ghul from BATMAN BEGINS) to play it straight.

Imad Khan said...

Ben Kingsley is playing the mandarin in iron man 3.


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