‘Iron Man 3′: Kevin Feige Praises Sir Ben Kingsley’s ‘Mandarin’ Performance

Published 2 years ago by , Updated October 29th, 2012 at 8:21 am,

Iron Man 3 Ben Kingsley Mandarin Praised Iron Man 3: Kevin Feige Praises Sir Ben Kingsleys Mandarin Performance

The announcement that Iron Man 3 would finally introduce classic villain The Mandarin (and that he’d be played by Sir Ben Kingsley) was for many, a mixed omen. The knighted thespian has delivered some iconic and profound performances (HugoGandhi), but in recent years his choice in roles has been far spottier.

According to Marvel studio head Kevin Feige, there’s no need to worry. Sir Ben has delivered the goods like few others who appeared in Marvel’s ‘Phase One,’ apparently crafting a version of the Mandarin so terrifying, anyone on set felt the chill.

If there’s one thing Kingsley is famous for, it’s his ability to both silence a crowd, and produce films as if his life depended on it (come 2013, he’ll have appeared in over a dozen since 2010). It would seem that he saved something extra for his role as Tony Stark’s antagonist, despite a heavy workload. Either that, or the exhaustion is being channeled into a villainous role.

In speaking with USA Today, Feige explained that despite the remarkable actors and actresses who have portrayed Marvel’s heroes and villains so far, Kingsley left a mark like few others:

“On his last take of his first full day as the Mandarin, when they yelled ‘Cut!’ the entire crew burst into applause, spearheaded by Mr. Downey himself…It was pretty amazing to see that.

“That’s what you get when you hire Sir Ben Kingsley. He’s so excited about his part and so into this character, and frankly just scaring the heck out of everybody…They’re like, ‘You’ve broken us out of our skeptical malaise!’

‘Phase One’ saw performances from Jeff Bridges, Anthony Hopkins, Hugo Weaving, and Samuel L. Jackson, so the fact that Kingsley’s reception by the cast and crew was one witnessed few times by Feige gives an idea of what fans can look forward to.

The very first image of Kingsley in costume as The Mandarin proved that even comic book fans didn’t know quite what to expect, while the first official trailer for Iron Man 3 only provided a hint at his motives and strategy. We’re still scratching our heads as to what his mysterious tattoo has to do with anything, but his character receiving such a strong response from those behind the cameras means good things for the film’s darker tone (if Feige’s words are taken at face value).

Iron Man 3 Broken Helmet Iron Man 3: Kevin Feige Praises Sir Ben Kingsleys Mandarin Performance

As the leader of The Ten Rings – the terrorist group that abducted Tony in the first Iron Man – there’s no real reason for The Mandarin to physically square off with a suit of flying armor. That’s what henchmen are for. Yet rumors about Stark’s new suit and powers suggest a finale that will be the biggest and boldest in the franchise, and a Marvel insider has confirmed such a showdown will indeed take place. An explosion-filled climax doesn’t exactly mesh with the somber, unsettling narration Kingsley provides in the newest trailer, so something along the lines of Iron Man or Iron Man 2 doesn’t seem to be director Shane Black’s plan.

A warlord who fails to see the difference between terrorism and murder, hurting and teaching, or hero and villain is a fairly distressing concept in itself. We’ve hoped that such an opportunity for a dark, determined character study wouldn’t be overshadowed by pyrotechnics and CGI; if Feige’s comments are true, then fans could expect to see both.

How do you feel about Kingsley’s casting now that the first trailer has arrived? Is an intelligent and disturbing villain more terrifying than a physically dangerous one, or are you most looking forward to the fight scenes and action sequences of Iron Man 3? Share your thoughts in the comments.

Iron Man 3 hits theaters on May 3, 2013.


Follow me on Twitter @andrew_dyce.

Source: USA Today

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  1. Don’t have any solid opinion of him yet, but I found his voice incredibly distracting in the trailers. It just didn’t sound….good? Authentic? I don’t even know what the word is, but it was just off.

    • i liked his voice.

    • His voice was weird in the trailer and yet I liked it alot.

    • Yeah the voice sounded a little off to me as well. I mean, I wasn’t expecting it to sound Chinese or anything obviously, but it sounded very…regular in a way. Like you could just play it over another trailer and it’d feel generic.

      And hey, Mickey Rourke gave a pretty good performance in IM2 too – doesn’t mean the character was satisfactory.

    • To me it sounded like it was from a public address over a PA system. The way he addressed particular people, made me think he was addressing an audience. I doubt he talks like that through the whole movie.

    • Was the word terrorist? It really threw me off. he said turrurist

    • His voice sounded like kermit the frog.

  2. Although I am not real familiar with Kingsley, I am given to understand from other commenters that he is quite a good actor. While I have little doubt of this, I certainly hope he does do justice to the role, to make up for the Mandarin character unfortunately not being Chinese, and he will have to also bring something to the character to make up for it if the 10 rings do not in fact blast out rays, ice, etc. personally, I would prefer the traditional “Fu Manchu” warlord-style villain, but will reserve judgement, and would really like to see a big slobber-knocker between Iron Man and Mandarin, firing off his ring-weapons in all their glory. I still hold out big hopes for this film, and look forward to adding it for sure to my DVD collection.

  3. I’m really looking forward to the Mandarin in this movie. I like the voice a lot but I’m not to sure that it matches the Mandarin character. But oh well, I’m excited for how the final showdown will play out and what Mandarins Captain America tattoo means.

  4. I’m very hopeful of about the Mandarin. As much as I hate to compare to the Dark Knight, because it happens way to much anymore, the Mandarin reminds me of the way then Joker and Bane seemed authentic but also original. Only hoping they don’t completely alter his “ten rings” from the comics.

  5. I’m excited to see more of him. The trailer didn’t show much aside from his voice which I thought was good. I certainly think he’s capable of being one heck of a villain so hopefully he won’t disappoint!

  6. Don’t take this as a rude comment, but Doh… of course producers will praise their actor, especially before the movie itself is out XD
    It’s the actors who usually the opposite in return…

    And I personally don’t need any more assurance about Sir Kingsley, his acting skills is always spot-on memorable and hearing his speech on the trailer already gave me the chills. I’m sure he’ll deliver a wonderful performance of the Mandarin -even when it’s an original take on the character due to his interpretation. Hey, people didn’t expect Heath Ledger and Tom Hardy could deliver Joker and Bane at first right? Sir Kingsley is no doubt more senior in the movie business compared to them, so definitely hands down for me.

    I just hope he’ll show up in the Avengers 2 as well.

  7. I don’t mind them doing new stuff with the characters as long as they are trying to preserve something of what made them memorable from the comics and do a good job with them in their own right, so I don’t mind the idea of varying up the Mandarin.
    I will say I thought the voice was sort of distracting as well, but I guess we’ll see the context for that later.
    I’m worried though that while there might be a really well done character study in store that it will be so dark and twisted that it will leave a sour taste at the end of the movie…I don’t mind super hero movies trying to be more believable or delving into genuine character development and complex mentalities– actually I love that.. but I -do- think that the heart of super heros as a genre is to give people hope…you shouldn’t leave a super hero movie feeling traumatized. I worry a bit that if the Mandarin is too brilliantly chillingly twisted that this element of hope might fall by the wayside in this movie. With luck that won’t be the case and it will just be awesome. ; )

  8. Loved his voice in the trailer sounded really creepy loved it, but i still hope as a Marvel film fan that they deliver the Leader at some point since they created him in the Incredible Hulk,left me standing there in the dust.

    • Definitely, they need to use the Leader. Bring him and Abomination back in Incredible Hulk sequel. That the way the new smart Hulk will have to use both brain and brawn.

  9. I had doubts, but then I saw the trailer and heard his voice, it reminds me of Heath Ledgers’s Joker and Tom Hardy’s Bane, different, but perfect for the movie.

    It was at least perfect for this trailer.

  10. Given the fact that the Mandarin is of mongolian/chinese descent. What kind of voice is he suppose to have to give credibility; one with a heavy chinese accent? This is one situation where having a movie character in close resemblance to the comic book design will be bad from a PR and general public acceptance point of view. In an age where political correctness and racism are such sensitive subjects, the last thing Marvel wants is to have a really bad caricature of a chinese overlord. It’s probably not in the best interest for the movie franchise. I personally have no problem with the character design, it’s an acceptable one given that this has to played out on the international stages. However, I have more of a problem with his rings being non-magical. Given that Marvel has gone the way of cosmic with everything, whats a little magic in a movie? Tech vs Magic would be awesome!

    • I agree. We have gods and aliens, whats wrong with magic? If i recall, Loki used magic in the first Thor movie, and a little in The Avengers (teleportation, illusions). Malekith, also a magic user, is the main antagonist in the sequel, and people want a Doctor Strange movie. So what’s wrong with ten magical alien rings?

    • i certainly wouldn’t want him to say “harro iron man”

      • Don’t you mean ILON MAN?

    • In my personal opinion they should’ve changed his look a little. I totally agree with you that it’s the smart move to not try and give him a Chinese voice, because it probably wouldn’t go down well.

      But then they forgot to do the same with his look. So in the end they’ve got still got that Chinese overlord caricature look, but one who sounds decidedly not-Chinese.

      Surely there’s a slightly more modern look they could’ve gone for here?

      • He looks to be of the same group of characters from the 10 RINGS terrorist group that kidnaps Tony Stark in Iron Man part one.

      • Yes you are right, Marvel can’t win either way in the character design. It’s either he looks like FuManChu like in the comics, or he ends up looking kind of like Genghis Khan. I think the key is not having him with that crazy catfish mustache, and slant eyes, or that ugly 90′s cartoon green skin. A good analogy would be Hawkeye’s design, where he looks nothing like the comic with that god awful purple outfit, but people seem to have accepted the movie design okay after it came out.

  11. of course they’re gonna hype the s*** out of the one person that doesn’t look like he fits well into the movie. it’s like having an african american capt america and saying it’s true to source and better then anything the comics have ever done (not trying o be racist).

    his voice is weird, he doesn’t look the part and his hair (facial hair included) makes him look like someone that’s been living in a dumpster for a couple of years crying over their life failures. if he is by some chance good and fitting, they will screw him over like they did mickey rourke by having a ton of stupid scenes (romance between pepper and tony, trashy avengers stuff) that will bore the hell out of viewers so that when the relevant stuff is taking place, viewers wont be fully focused.

    all i want is a decent script with more action and a tighter narrative (as in not 5000 different sub plots at once).

    • There’s a black Captain America in Young Avengers though…

      But yes to the tighter narrative. The second one was a mess.

    • Captain Africa America?

    • There was a black Capt. America in the comics.

  12. Well, while it would be silly to not praise an actor in a movie, the fact they are bothering to hype it would seem to mean that it actually has a chance of turning out to be true. Kingsley is a good actor after all.

    If the public doesn’t agree, then this could be sort of bad. But then, if it gets people into seats then I suppose it might not matter. But then, it would probably do well regardless.

    I just rather hope they actually have the rings be the rings, rather than simply for show. It’d be irritating to simply get another armor vs. armor match like the other final battles have been.

    It’s not that big of a stretch after all since they introduced Asgard and other alien life. Just say the rings are alien tech he stumbled across. Give enough of the backstory to get the job done without being too distracting.

    Granted, given that each ring had a different ability, it could be a challenge to display them all, but perhaps they don’t have to.

  13. why does he sound like Al Gore?

  14. I thought he was Asian? 0_0

    • I love Sir Ben Kingsley, His acting is superb. He is half indian and half british.

  15. I think Kingsley will be great in this movie glad to see they’re using one of the greatest marvel villains ever. Maybe Kingsley will be as good as Heath Ledger as the Joker or Anthony Hopkins as Hanibal Lector. Can’t wait for this movie I think it’s gonna rock

  16. Two words…….. Bore. Ring. Don’t get me wrong, I love Sir Ben Kingsley, but the Mandarin, they could come up with a better villain?

    • Dab nabbit I meant couldn’t

    • I’m no expert, but last I checked boring was one word ;)

      • He was trying to be witty. He failed.

    • The Mandarin is Ironman’s main villian in the comics.

    • Stvmoe: Mandarin is to Iron Man as Lex Luthor is to Superman.

  17. All good news

  18. Its Gandhi and Ghandi that he starred in and got the Oscar for. I am surprised how often the same mistake is made by people in the West!

  19. Its Gandhi and not Ghandi that he starred in and got the Oscar for. I am surprised how often the same mistake is made by people in the West!

  20. for me, the impact of a villan on a comic book movie will forever be compared to Heath Ledger’s Joker.

    chills went down my back when i was watching that in theaters.

    i have faith that Sir Kingsley will deliver.

    i really hope Guy Pearce’s acting doesn’t go under utilized a la Sam Rockwell in IM2.

    • ala Hugo Weaving in Ca:TFA

  21. Ben was an incredible villain in Sexy Beast.

    • I was just thinking that. I only watched that film once, years ago, but Kingsley’s performance really stayed with me.

  22. Not liking the voice (although, I have a theory on it), but I’ll keep an open mind. Sir Ben Kingsley is a terrific actor and performance wise, I’m sure he’ll deliver and then some.

    • What is your theory?

      I like the voice, it is unique like Heath Ledgers Joker, or Tom Hardy’s Bane, perfect for the movie, or in this case, perfect for the trailer.

      But that is just my opinion, what is your theory?

  23. Mandarin won’t be. Complete if he doesn’t have magic or something by the end of the film if he just has an iron suit and dies at the end like the last 2 iron man movies it will be a big disappointment, I am excited for it though

  24. wouldn’t it be an awesome curve ball to the fans if it turned out the voice in the trailer ended up belonging to Guy Pearce’s character? Think about it people! …

    • I thought about it….and nothing has changed. It is Kingley.

      • Sorry, Kingsley.

  25. I find it interesting that he’s playing this villain considering he also played the villain in the ‘Thunderbirds’ movie, and I remember that the villain in the old Thunderbirds series, which I’m assuming was what the movie villain was based on, was also Chinese(?)

  26. Bane all over again.

    • Na, I can understand Kingsley.

  27. FIN FANG FOOM!!!!

  28. If anyone has any doubts about Kingsley playing a villian check out “Sexy Beast” he’ll scare the crap out of you….Looking forward to this one!

  29. His voice in the trailer was PERFECT. It was chilling and instills fear, I loved it, looking forward to the movie.