Shane Black Defends Iron Man 3’s Controversial Mandarin

Published 2 years ago by , Updated May 21st, 2013 at 3:38 pm,

Iron Man 3 Interviews The Mandarin Movie Comic Book Differences Shane Black Defends Iron Man 3s Controversial Mandarin

In March, Iron Man 3 writer-director Shane Black raised alarm among Marvel Comics fans when he said that his interpretation of the Mandarin wouldn’t have magic rings, and would instead be closer in spirit to the Joker in The Dark Knight Rises and Colonel Kurtz in Apocalypse Now.

With Iron Man 3 expected to cross the $1 billion mark by the weekend, most fans have taken to the silver screen to see for themselves how Tony Stark’s greatest foe was represented in live-action. The results were perhaps, not what Marvel fans were expecting.

Warning: The following contains MAJOR SPOILERS for Iron Man 3!








But who was expecting that his Mandarin wouldn’t be a villain at all? Reworking Ben Kingsley’s Mandarin to be a goofy, toothless figurehead subservient to Guy Pearce’s scientist has polarized audiences, with some arguing that the choice is a brave, modern move, while others decry it as sacrilege, not only to the comics but to the previous two movies. We asked Black to defend his version of the Mandarin to fans who found his weakness shocking. Here’s Black’s argument for Iron Man 3‘s bold re-imagining, from what we told us during the Iron Man 3 press day:

“I would say that we struggled to find a way to present a mythic terrorist that had something about him that registered after the movie’s over as having been a unique take, or a clever idea, or a way to say something of use. And what was of use about the Mandarin’s portrayal in this movie, to me, is that it offers up a way that you can sort of show how people are complicit in being frightened. They buy into things in the way that the audience for this movie buys into it. And hopefully, by the end you’re like, ‘Yeah, we were really frightened of the Mandarin, but in the end he really wasn’t that bad after all.’ In fact, the whole thing was just a product of this anonymous, behind-the-scenes guy. I think that’s a message that’s more interesting for the modern world because I think there’s a lot of behind-the-scenes, a lot of fear, that’s generated toward very available and obvious targets, which could perhaps be directed more intelligently at what’s behind them.”

Maybe we should have seen the change coming. After all, back when Black was denying that The Mandarin was even in the movie he was saying the character was a racist relic. But could Tony Stark’s archenemy have been rehabilitated for the modern age? Sure, there are racially suspect elements to the traditional Mandarin, but surely Black and co-writer Drew Pearce could have trimmed those out.

Robert Downey Jr Shane Black Iron Man 3 Official Set Photo from Marvel Shane Black Defends Iron Man 3s Controversial Mandarin

Robert Downey Jr. and Shane Black

Perhaps Marvel fanboys are most upset at the loss of The Mandarin’s ten rings of power. These extraterrestrial weapons defined The Mandarin for decades, and in the Iron Man movies they’ve been transformed into only the name of the villain’s terrorist network. Perhaps Black could have tried to bring those rings into the film. The Iron Man trilogy has tried to rely on science-based foes, but Pearce’s Aldrich Killian could have come up with some sort of nanotechnological spin on the rings.

While it might have been nice to keep the rings, Black’s spin on The Mandarin was unexpected and fun. It certainly gave Sir Ben Kingsley the opportunity to open up and have a blast in the role (read about Kingsley’s thoughts on The Mandarin here). It also managed to actually surprise fans, who thought they knew every detail of the story going in. It’s nice, in this age of endless reboots and sequels and adaptations from well-known source material, to be surprised in the theater once in a while.


What do you think? Is Iron Man 3‘s media-managed Mandarin an interesting, modern twist? Or were you dismayed that he wasn’t a more formidable adversary? Let us know in the comments below.

Iron Man 3 is currently in theaters worldwide.

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  2. Here we go…

    • Start your engines!

      • If somebody can name 3 classic Mandarin stories….. He has always been a C list villian at best. As a lifelong comics fan I thought the twist was an interesting play on my expectations.

        • I agree. I never was a fan of that character. Probably explains why I kinda laughed during that whole scene.

        • 2 hours later, and nobody has yet responded to you. I mentioned that point also on another website. The Mandarin is not that great of a villain. He’s just the best out of the pile of crap villains Iron Man has. His origin story is lame, his motives are cliche, and there is nothing truly great about him, maybe besides the rings. Now I didn’t like the twist, I thought it was bad, but it’s kind of wierd to say people SOOOO angry about this.

          • @tay. 100% spot on. Feels good being right for possibly the first time ever

          • Exactly. The Mandarin being Iron Mans “greatest villain” was a inherent flaw with the Iron Man character, and so Marvel dealt with it in the best way possible and moved on. I think everybody else should too.

            • Best way possible could have been revamping the character.

              I mean you said it yourself- there is an inherent flaw of the Iron Man character in terms of rogue gallery and himself. He was always a secondary hero/property at best compared to Spider-Man, the Fantastic Four, X-Men etc. Personally I liked him but he was never up there honestly.

              But they did the best they could to make him relevant and capable on his own in the Iron Man film. They did everything in there power to make him work. Look how much attention they put into forming this fake Mandarin. It deviated from the negative stereotypes of the characters and along with Kingsley’s acting the character was built up quite well before the reveal.

              As I said this was not the biggest problem of the film, but it was not the best way they could have done it.

        • That’s pretty ironic considering Iron Man himself was a B lister himself until these movies.

          • @mongoose. You’re not wrong there

        • @ MarkBartlett – I’d go for these:

          Dragon Seed Saga from IM 270-275.

          Mandarin: The Story Of My Life from Invincible Iron Man Annual 1 (in which, ironically, the Mandarin forces a movie director to film an outrageously sanitised version of his life), and The New Iron Age (set in 2052 with the Mandarin as the Emperor of Earth) – both stories collected in The Invincible Iron Man Vol 7: My Monsters.

          The behind-the-scenes manipulation of the Ten Rings To Rule The World storyline from IM 95-100, which I don’t think has ever been put out on its own.

          My personal favourite is from the Iron Man: Director Of SHIELD: Haunted collection (Mandarin with artificial Stark-tech hands, the ten rings fused into his spine, plans to release an airborne version of Extremis to “cleanse” the Earth; Stark has to face him wearing the old red/gold and Silver Centurion suits).

          Hey, that’s four! I know what you mean, though: IM’s villains were never a particular strong point. I didn’t have a problem with the Mandarin’s portrayal in IM3, by the way, although that last storyline I mentioned could definitely have been used in some way or another.

          • @big dentist. Thanks for the only response offering up a story I can read. These are Matt Fraction and Daniel Knauf stories right for the most part? I have a copy of that annual and I’ve heard about it getting pick of the week reviews on places like ifanboy.

            Cheers for the heads up.

            I still stand by my original point though. Those are mostly modern reinterpretations of the character from what I understand.

            • Yeah, My Monsters is Fraction and Haunted is Daniel/Charlie Knauf. Dragon Seed was John Byrne from the early ’90s and Ten Rings was Bill Mantlo from the late ’70s, but I completely agree that the best Mandarin stories by far are the modern ones. He was always a cheap & cheerfully unashamed Fu Manchu knockoff, and in a fit of self-awareness from Tales Of Suspense 54, Stan Lee even has Stark saying “He sounds like a hold-over from The Late Late Show”!

        • I don’t understand this point at all.

          The Green Goblin seems to me an inherently silly character with a silly name. Does this mean that the character should be dismissed as too silly to sustain a movie? I don’t think your average moviegoer knew or cared about GG or considered that character A-list or B-list or any other list…they just accepted the character when the filmmakers treated the character with respect.

          Venom is an inherently bizarre character that requires cosmic explanation or a completely original backstory. This does not prevent comic fans clamoring for his inclusion in movies.

          I see no reason why Mandarin is so ridiculous or so C-list that he needs to be used as a joke or not at all. Magic rings are more ridiculous than a man who transforms into a green-skinned goblin person and throws pumpkins? In what universe is that more realistic?

          It’s one thing to argue that the use of the Mandarin in Iron Man 3 was effective and worked for the movie. That’s a legitimate argument that I still happen to disagree with. But this idea that the Mandarin is so much more absurd or minor than every other completely absurd thing that exists in the Marvel universe and therefore no fans have a right to be upset (the way fans SHOULD have a right to be upset about changes to Green Goblin or Venom or Magneto or whatever) is a very bizarre argument.

          I’m a comic fan. I’ve seen practically every Marvel movie ever made, I am intimately familiar with hundreds of Marvel characters and I can’t name you three classic Green Goblin stories. I know that he killed Gwen Stacy. That’s the only Green Goblin story in my memory. So does that mean he’s a stupid character that shouldn’t be treated with respect?

          I can’t name 3 Doc Ock stories. I can’t name 3 great Magneto stories. I can’t name three great Lex Luthor stories. However, I still know who these characters are, I understand their basic appeal, and I would know how to write them so they are effective antagonists in a film. It would not involve playing them off as a complete joke.

          I honestly don’t understand this “name me three great Mandarin stories” point. Can you explain it to me again and why it is a forceful argument? Thanks.

          • @Thomas B. I appreciate your response. Well, I’m not sure it’s a matter of opinion. I’m speaking purely about the madarin’s perception in the eyes of comics fans. The Mandarin isn’t anywhere near the same league of popularity as the other villians you mentioned in anyone’s perception.
            I’m not understanding your counter-argument here. Oh, and 3 stories had no significance, I just wanted to see if anyone would attempt to signpost me to some good comics (which only one person has)
            Iron Man has always been known for having a weak rogues gallery.
            I’m going to try my best not to be a smart-ass but huge swathes of modern marvel comics history involve Norman Osborne/GG, pretty much every key marvel story from secret invasion to the end of siege.
            Doctor Octopus IS spider-man in the current book.
            Venom’s so popular he can sustain his own ongoing series without Eddie Brock as the lead.
            Lex Luthor and magneto? You’ve got me on those 2 :) I can’t think of ANY stories that would elevate them above the Mandarin. The Mandarin’s character has been so richly developed over the decades by dozens of writers, he’s not only important to the iron man mythos but most of his actions have a wider effect on the marvel u also.

  3. Have the Mandarin be a terrorist again, and have him cause a bunch of mayhem when he discovered that his name has been misused. Bam, problem partially solved.

    • My thoughts exactly.

      This “fake” Mandarin could easily have been something that was only said in whispers before. And then Killian used that name and mythos to build a more public figure that scared and antagonized the world for his purposes assuming that the “myth” would remain a myth. Once he is trotted out as the sham that he was, the real Mandarin that was outraged by the buffoonery that became his name and then comes forward to destroy the man that made him a laughing stock. Before people feared him in dark corners of the world, now they think him just a joke and no longer fear the name Mandarin. No comes the real ten rings.

      If you haven’t watched the directly connected series on Disney XD for Avengers Assemble you should. It would perfectly explain the Mandarin and the infamous Ten Makluan Rings. Stark always approaches the mystical from a scientific point of view insisting that everything is science that we humans just dont quite understand… yet. So the rings could easily be a byproduct of alien tech that was left behind on earth millennia ago that then became legendary artifacts coveted by the Mandarins ancestors. While they managed to figure out how to use them, they didnt really understand them and how they worked.

      If you must have backstory for their intended purpose, you could easily point to hard to believe ancient structures that keep some people awake at night asking how was it made so long ago with such primitive tools. The answer is the rings were actually Alien construction tools, used to build things like pyramids and other large scale structures. But once man got their hands on them they quickly turned them to weapons. There done. All easy as pie and with a root in real world physics.

      I think though, with this, the bigger question is why wouldnt the Mandarin bent on domination have used them already to enact his will. Which is why I would write in a plot line that dealt with them holding a myth of their own. One that allows them to be dormant until something changes and allows them to again be charged enough to allow their use once again. Perhaps the momentary opening of the galactic bridge way in Avengers leaked out the power necessary for them to once again hold a charge. Something that may have gone unnoticed by the “real” Mandarin until his outrage at seeing his name being used by the buffoon. Perhaps a scene where he is watching CNN or something and he goes into a rage that triggers one of the rings to ignite. He then learns how to focus his will through them to do the things that they were prophesied to have done. As we see in the first movie the rings were spread out… most likely to ten different people… thus the organizations name The Ten Rings. Once the “real” Mandarin discovers that the rings do have the power they were rumored to have had and no longer just ornaments of prestige. So then he goes to each of the generals and takes back by force the rings that have been scattered through out the organization. Some generals will have probably also discovered their true power and are reluctant to turn them back over to the Mandarin.
      There the Mandarin is saved and all from an amatuer. If I can think this up and write it out it should be a cinch for the professionals.

  4. i loved the mandarin…

    sure its fine to completely change characters in the batman movies yet they do it to a marvel movie s*** hits the fan.

    grow up you guys, i swear. they did it amazingly. the ultimate mandarin is a computer. imagine what it would be like if they did that -_-

    • I respect what they did with the character in that it did surprise me and was a breath of fresh air. The reason I hated the movie solely due to the Mandarin is because I feel there is so much wasted potential. You take such a massive and impressive villain, and reduce him to a trick you pull on the audience? Well, I feel tricked alright, but I feel more robbed than anything else.

      • wasted potential? he was an actor. people were expecting the Mandarin. it was your fault

      • @blake S… Massive where and when? Please explain… And be specific. What are the key important, classic mandarin stories?

      • that’s how i felt too. it was an easy trick to pull too because the villain was already a very BIG name so all they had to do was make him a fraud. but at what cost?

        the cost is they have no endgame villain. Cause they used up that card on this side show phony. had they done it straight they would have a villain that could fill at least 3 more iron man movies. instead he’s a “one shot.”

        • there (mostly) gonna be one shot villains. these movies are not going to go on forever, so they want to use as many villains AND heroes as possible before the money well dries up. i liked IM3, i thought the story was pretty straight forward, and cant wait for the next chapter, thor/dw, then cap/ws.

  5. the mandarin was the equivalent of the joker being an actual clown in the dark knight. they ruined iron man’s greatest arch enemy and made a puppet. this right here ruined the movie for me. after the big reveal with the mandarin i didnt care for the rest of the movie

    • Actually it was the equivalent of the Joker being played by the actor Heath Ledger within the movie, and not for the movie.

    • completely agree with JINT476

    • @jint… Except the joker is THE JOKER. And nobody has EVER really cared about the Mandarin… All these supposed mandarin fans coming outta the woodwork… Before iron man 1, even iron Man was a b list character at marvel… Jeeez.
      Iron man 3 is very funny and entertaining.

      • “Nobody has ever really cared about the Mandarin?”

        How does that make any sense?

        You do realize they write Iron Man comics because people read them, right? The authors don’t just write them for their health. And they keep writing Mandarin stories to this day because…wait for it….people who read Iron Man like the character.

        Do you honestly think people are “coming out of the woodwork” and pretending to be Mandarin fans? Like this is some conspiracy?

        What is your explanation for why Mandarin stories have continued to be written since the characters conception in Tales of Suspense? The character obviously has appeal.

        Also explain to me your point when you say “even Iron Man was a b list character at Marvel”. Is your point that we should all be grateful that we received our Iron Man movies at all regardless of what they do with the character or his villains? We should therefore all be pleased as punch if they made an Iron Man movie where Tony Stark was a vampire or something? Because after all, Iron Man was a b-list character and we’re lucky they even bothered to make a film about him, right?

        Also this whole idea that “the Joker is THE JOKER”. Well, the Joker only became the Joker, in mainstream culture, I would argue because of mainstream movies like Tim Burton’s film. You think your average moviegoer has read “The Killing Joke” or something? They know about the Joker because of Adam West and Tim Burton. Iron Man 3 would be an introduction to The Mandarin character that would allow that character to penetrate the public consciousness in the same way Burton’s movie and the Adam West show helped the Joker become an iconic character to your average person who isn’t interested in comics.

        Explain to me again why the Joker should be treated with respect in a movie but the Mandarin should be played off as a joke. Explain this without appealing to your own personal lack of interest in The Mandarin character.

        • @thomas. No, I don’t think it’s a conspiracy. Your argument is too flawed to even BEGIN correcting.

          So you win, enjoy the rest of your day.

          B list character?- yes, we should be grateful. Iron man is an iconic avengers member so it’s important that the films stay true to the spirit of the character. The Mandarin is so loosely defined and anachronistic that he begs to be reinterpreted for modern film-goers. Iron Man’s book was so unpopular in the 90’s it was very nearly Cancelled. So yes. We should absolutely be grateful for this amazing age of CBM’s

          • I won? Awesome.

            I am going to enjoy the rest of my day so much!

  6. Technically speaking, The Mandarin was the baddie still, it’s just that Kingsley wasn’t the individual playing The Mandarin, Pearce was…

    • I think that’s kind of worse 😉

    • @jasca. Totally right. Had no issue with it.

    • Yeah, feel like all they had to do was have him say that he was the Mandarin, immediately after the Kingsley reveal, have the rings, in some form, reveal the tattoos,and reveal his role in Tony getting captured in the first movie, and the reaction to the change would be much more favorable. They even had the actor that played Yinsen at the beginning, i thought it was odd that he didn’t taunt Tony about his death because of that. They seemed hell bent to mess up The Mandarin for all times for some reason, maybe all this stuff they were doing to get the movie to play well in China had something to do with it. Who knows.

  7. the sad thing about all this was that ben kingsley did a great job with the character up until he became a joke

  8. I would have much rather seen Kingsley’s Mandarin turn out to be exactly what he was initially presented to be; A whacked out Colonel Kurtz type Terrorist, who was in league with Killian. I would have also liked to see Mandarin get away at the end with the possibility of returning in later installments. It seems that the twist that he was an actor was unnecessary, and even killed the character for future use.
    I don’t care one way or another about magic or mystical technology being attached to the rings.

    • If you really feel that way (that the Mandarin was killed for future use) I say good riddance! There are bigger, thornier, meatier issues that Iron Man has to deal with than a racist caricature. I’d rather this version of the Mandarin and not some offensive Asian-stereotype gone wrong. Plus, the open ended nature of the conclusion opens up so many avenues. Say what you will, but this movie did not pigeon-hole itself having to deal with tired, lame villains and actually propels in the direction of the greater Marvel Movie Universe.

      • Your’e missing my point. I enjoyed Kingsley’s portrayal of the Mandarin… right up until they revealed he was a stooge! They should have kept him as what they led you to believe he was, “a psychotic terrorist”.
        Furthermore; while Mandarin is portrayed in the Comics as a “racist caricature” or an “Asian-stereotype gone wrong”, in the Film he was portrayed as a European mercenary type gone wrong who embraces an Asian flair. I feel his character in the film was initially quite frightening and deserved better respect than to be turned into a complete stooge.

  9. I guess we were complicit in thinking that Tony would have a functional suit as well.
    Having the Mandarin with an Asian background is no more racist than having Dr. Wu with an Asian background.

  10. The funny part is that the Mandarin and Killian were easily the best villains in the trilogy.

    • @filthpig. You are EXTREMELY correct.

    • I actually.,.,.agree :(

    • Yes. Definitely agree with you on that!

    • That’s so true but also so sad.

    • Kind of a low bar….

      • False. I much prefer Sam Rockwell’s Justin Hammer to Guy Pierce’s Aldrich Killian. That’s just me though.

        • I think most would agree that all of the Iron Man villains have been watered down for the movies. Rockwell is a great actor and got everything he possibly could out of the Hammer character, but overall the IM3 villains were the best of the bunch. And as stated by someone above, that’s not saying much, but true nonetheless.

  11. I loved the twist. As was said before, theres no fun in knowing everything going in. We wanted something different and we got it. I thought it would have been great to have mandarin the uber villain but seeing how it turned out, Made sense for THIS movie. But kingsley did a fantastic job as mandarin. Just my opinion. Whos to say that the actor wasnt given plastic surgery to resemble the real mandarin. Aldrich said he was mandarin, but someone funded his company. So who knows.

    • Actually, Kingsley does say in the movie that he did receive cosmetic surgery.

  12. I am all for changing comic book characters to meet the more “discerning” tastes of an audience but come on…Mandarin is an iconic villain. Yes take out the racist elements to it but they could have had a better villain with SOME casual semblance to the comic version. Bane was changed to great effect to provide a modern take on the character. While it was not enough to totally ruin the movie, they could have done a lot better.

    • Mandarin is a B-list villain at best. Probably closer to C-list, actually.

      • He is the most iconic of ALL of Iron Man’s foes. According to Wikipedia “Iron Man fights threats to his company, such as Communist opponents Black Widow, the Crimson Dynamo and the Titanium Man, as well as independent villains like the Mandarin, who eventually becomes his greatest enemy.”

        He already did the rival villains in power suits thing in the previous movies so there was very little to work with unless they created a completely new villain.

        If it were up to me I would have Iron Man’s primary foe (his Loki so to speak) be Doctor Doom. But studio politics being what they are there is no way to to get there.

      • Iron man was a b-list hero (granted status was raised significantly due to civil war) before the first iron man film which put on every bodies radar
        So why couldn’t mandarin have received the same upgrade so that Starks best villain could join him in the spotlight, Kingsley could have made him as good a villain as RDJ is iron man
        How good would it be if marvels top guy in the mcu had a villain to match

        • To be honest Mandarin is hard to do without introducing mystical elements which I think comic book movies seem like they try to avoid. That stated…Doctor Doom is the perfect villain for Stark for obvious reasons.

          They use similar means to do the things they do and are similar in a lot of ways. Victor Von Doom is wealthy, is a genius and I believe even has an army of robot Dr. Doom clones. He is in every way the ANTI-Iron Man and has some recognition being one of the greatest villains in Marvel history and as a result would be ideal to go up against Stark in an Epic way.

          • except that there was nothing mystic about the 10 rings. He found 10 unique power sources aboard a spaceship and, after learning to control them molded them into rings so he could wear them.

            It’s alien tech plain and simple.

            Of course then there’s the Thor gambit……if Thor and his alien tech can exist in this SHARED universe, why would this be so taboo?

  13. I HATE that all these artsy b******* movie critiques & people who love movies are defending “The Mandarin” You know it sucks! Don’t get me wrong I enjoyed Iron-Man 3 but this whole Mandarin was an actor b******* was not clever! I thought Mandarin was dope the way they portrayed him as a Terrorist style villain, a real villain and than they stripped it all away because it was probably to dark or wasn’t PC. How sick would it have been to see The Mandarin face off Against Iron-Man with his 10 rings of power. That would’ve been a solid ending for the Trilogy.

    • That would’ve been boring, unoriginal and something that’s been seen multiple times in the comics. BOOOOORRRRRRIIIIINNNNNG. Mandarin’s always been a sucky villain, anyway.

      • The ending was very boring with Iron Man fighting Killian. And all those wasted Iron Men doing some work for 15-20 seconds maybe? Does anyone else remember the big hulk looking Iron Man from the trailers? Rushing in looking like he’s gonna kick ass and BAM! Guess what? He just prevents something from collapsing….lol…oh Marvel.

        • All of the Iron Men suits that got destroyed was symbolic of Tony Stark’s emergence as the actual Iron Man in the suits. I thought that was obvious. It was the film showing that he doesn’t need the suits, the suits need him.

          • Obviously, and unfortunately, some people just don’t get it.

            • @ FILTHpig


  14. I LOVED the Trevor Slattery “twist” bit. It was amazingly executed and well played out. I have loved the Iron Man lore long before IM1 hit the mainstream via RDJ in 2008. I’ve always hated the Mandarin as an “arch-villain”. He was a ridiculous stereotypical goof of a villain. I only gave him a second thought in the post-Extremis version of him. So coming from a loyal Iron Man fan since the 80’s, I loved their ballzy move with the Mandarin. I understand that the “twist” did indeed upset many fans and for good reason, but to condemn this movie as being the WORST comic book movie in the world? To those people I say, please keep your “super-fanboyism” in check. =P

    • Apparently those people never saw Superman 3, Superman 4, Superman Returns, Catwoman, Green Lantern, Batman and Robin, all the Fantastic Four movies, X-men 3, Spider-man 3… all are candidates for worst CBM ever.

      • Coincidentally I’m watching superman 3 on blu-ray right now…. It’s more entertaining than I remember! Lana Lang’s kid in it needs to shut up though!

        • Com’on Superman, you can be great again!!!

      • Seriously… someone should constantly remind people of this. It could be so SO much worse.

      • @Cave-Ish Man
        Clearly Batman & Robin is the worst from the list you gave lol.

  15. Ruh roh!

  16. I loved the twist and thought it was a great idea.

    Just look at the shift in tone from the traditional boogeyman we all suspected of being behind 9/11 to the more suspicious nature of people wondering if terrorists in the Middle East aren’t actually controlled by Western governments to be complicit in murder just to support a war machine that makes billions in profits.

    The change makes a ton of sense and I just think that people are either too stubborn or too *insulting word that means the opposite of “intelligent”* to understand the concept behind Black’s version of The Mandarin.

    We’re living in a time where the villains and the heroes we initially hate/love are the polar opposite. In the 80s and early 90s, hackers were seen as unwashed and immature kids who love to cause mayhem and destruction for fun. Now we rely on them to help keep our social infrastucture and communication systems online and running perfectly against cyber attacks that could damage entire nations.

    Osama bin Laden was the public face of al-Qaeda but since his death, they’ve continued to use other members as the voice and face of the terrorist network just to continue inspiring fear in us all while others work behind the scenes to plot and commit atrocities.

    Black’s version of Mandarin was just a movie version of that. I just can’t understand the hate.

    • That about sums it up for me. Very good movie that suffered from too much hype.

    • Dazz (and FILTHpig)…

      I got what Black was trying to show; I just didn’t think he succeeded. As I said before, I found many other problems with the movie which is why I did not AT ALL like it (though I DID enjoy RDJ, as always). As for that idea of misdirection with a Western shadow puppeteer controlling the action, they had already done that (and to MUCH better effect) in the first “Iron Man”: Stane contracting the Ten Rings. I would’ve even been okay if the “Mandarin” was just that in the cinematic universe…the Ten Rings and not an actual person. IM3’s version (and the back story supporting it) came across as extremely contrived and shallow. This merely brought down the movie EVEN more for me, not in and of itself.

  17. I thought it was hilarious! Ben Kingsly usually plays so serious in films. And to have this come out of the blue like it did was fine for me as a fan of the Iron Man franchise. Definitely made up for the mess that was IM2!

  18. Also one more thing ITS A SUPER-HERO MOVIE! why does there need to be a twist. It doesnt need to have a Sixth Sense ending!

    • Don’t read any comics then… there’s twists on twists.

      • Yep, stay away from comic books if you don’t like twists in comic book movies. Comic books thrive on twists, that’s what keeps people anticipating the next month’s issue.

        • I read plenty of comics and they don’t necessarily rape the villain from what he truly is.

          • Unless you’re talking the Ultimate Universe, which a fair amount of these movies are based on.

            • Fanboys are forgetting that Marvel is putting forth an entirely new universe for the screen. They’re not “Sin-Citying” it. They are making an accessible film universe that’s parallel to all the other universes that Marvel has created. Anything goes! And so far, it seems like all the characters have been distilled to their finest features, shucking away the unnecessary such as a ching-chong fu-manchu Mandarin.

  19. I found the Mandarin twist to be mildly amusing. The one positive thing I can say about it is that Ben Kingsley was fantastic in the role, and I wouldn’t have cast anyone else. My thoughts on what could’ve been done differently and/or better would be two paths.

    path one; they could’ve had extremis the way it was supposed to be and have tony stark get it and have THAT be the reason mark 42 flew onto him, making it an even greater plotline. The Mandarin could’ve been everything they “lied” about and simply teamed up with Killian to make extremis work, Killian being the creator, Maya being the Mandarin’s lover, Killian dies 2/3 of the way through the way he killed maya in the film, and the Mandarin launches a military attack on China with Extremis soldiers to punish the country for something in his past so he could take it over. the rings could’ve been generators that amplified extremis power, turning people to dust, exploding through the great wall, etc. final battle in a chinese palace, iron man vs. mandarin, at the end tony is overwhelmed by the choices hes made and the pain of extremis and the mandarin is like “You’re not a superhero, you’re nothing more than a man, tony stark. pathetic, and weak.” and he has flashbacks of his father, the avengers, and everything that made him the man he was and he says “no, I am Iron Man,” and blasts off the Mandarin’s hands separating him from the rings, defeating him. insert random end scenario.

    path 2; you do the mandarin twist, but trevor becomes brainwashed by extremis technology and is brought with Killian to the LA docks at the end battle, where after Killian is blown up in mark 42, he puts himself into Trevor’s body and escapes, effectively becoming the mandarin and setting himself up as a loki-esque puppet villain for avengers 2.

    I loved Iron Man 3, I didn’t care about the twist, and the movie was still fantastic, easily the best of the series. I did nbot approve of the arc light being taken out, but I’m not Shane Black. I personally would’ve made Iron Man 3 the way I wrote the first path, but it was great anyway. Good job Marvel, another hit.

    • I the the removal of the arc was a Marvel thing not a Black thing. I think it’ll be more apparent a couple of movies from now as to why they did that exactly.

      • *think

    • Path one for me Cole
      Totally agree with the rest as well, Kingsley was brilliant, he almost won me over but I still could quite shake the disappointed that they didn’t do more with mandarin

      Was going to do another comment but since I’m already writing
      To those who argue that Killian was the mandarin just cos he said so, I feel like I have to disagree as ‘Calling yourself a king doesn’t make you one’
      Killian was just some scientist who got stood up on a roof by tony 13 years ago and never got over it, not a backstory or motivation that I can accept for iron mans arch nemesis
      actually I’d be disappointed in a lot of films that has its main villain be that pathetic (it would probably depend on the film though)

      I did like iron man 3 but it wasn’t as good as the trailers made it out to be
      Also that post-credits scene, almost as pointless as the swarma scene in avengers, sure we got to see tony stark and Bruce banner are still buddies but I could’ve figured that out for myself in avengers 2 when they will likely still be friends

    • “I loved Iron Man 3, I didn’t care about the twist, and the movie was still fantastic, easily the best of the series”

      Whoa whoa whoa, relax there buddy. Take a deep breath and remember how great Iron Man 1 is. Yea…Iron Man 1 is way better than 3. Just sayin’

      • Iron Man 1 for me was incredibly disappointing. The ending was the worst supervillain fight of all time for me. Iron Man 2 was excellent, and 3 was even better! that’s just my opinion. But the best MCU movie to date is the Incredible Hulk with Ed Norton. That was a masterpiece.

  20. The twist is not a huge problem of the film. I like the concept of having this character feed into what people fear and the stereotypes that come with it while the real villain is anonymous and actually homegrown. My problem is the execution if that idea.

    It terms of the villains plot to distract the authorities and advance tensions, its a sick and smart move. Those Mandarin set the tone of ear and terror very well thanks to Ben Kingsley acting. However all the time spent on building and developing the Mandarin (decoy?) in my opinion and maybe others could have been spent on Killian who seemes rather weak in portrayal. Guy Pearce did a great job as well really good but the character himself was not written to be particularly effective. The audience was afraid of mostly what he can do- breathing fire and not being ao easy to kill etc- not of his mindset which up to the point of the twist the Mandarin was more fearsome by sheer personality than anything else.

    I actually walked in expecting the 10 rings to be a symbol of the Mandarin’s power and influence- ex. The terrorist network fron the first film- not the powerful extraterrestrial rings. I expected the essence of the character. Ben Kingsley showed that while Guy Pearce just seemed like a rather cliched villain whose motivations or goals is not huge after all. If Guy Pearce Killian!Mandarin character was given more weight and development and equally as menacing and fit the essence of who the Mandarin is than I am sure the twist would have been more well recieved. I believe so because we saw something similar in Batman Begins.

    Personally the twist and its intent was well thought out but the execution could have been better to get the message or tone across. The filmmakers spent a lot of effort building Ben Kingsley’s Mandarin in personality, attention grabbing attire, development for the first act in the film, and marketing that when introducing a less effective character – in writing obly as Guy Pierce did great with what he had- as the true Mandarin some were undoubtedly underwhelmed.

    Beyond that, the twist did hurt he film as much people assume because its well

  21. The Extremis Guys spit fire and magic rings were too magic like? yeah… no

    • I agree that the use of Extremis was poorly handled. But the point was that it enhances genes right? Some people had side effects that included exploding and such. I accept that. What’s important is that Extremis is what makes Iron Man that much more powerful in subsequent movies.

  22. The defense is interesting and I find it easier to cope with what they did now and I’m glad for that. I was dissapointed at first after a while I mostly accepted what they did though movie was very good.

  23. So he was making political commentary? Addressing the fear of terrorism and insinuating that people are afraid of the wrong thing? Is that accurate? If so, very disappointing.

    • How is it disappointing? It’s an issue we all face in this day and age.

      It’d be like the HIV/AIDS epidemic frightening people and Philadelphia comes out to show that it can destroy normally happy and healthy people with a talent in one particular field and cause people to discriminate against them (as people experienced in the 80s and early 90s) and then someone saying:

      “Oh. Philadelphia was trying to tell us that people with HIV are still human beings with real emotions and shouldn’t be hated because they have a disease? How disappointing.”

      • I’m not downplaying the seriousness of the topic (terrorism). Nor am I criticizing social commentary in films in general. I’m just of the opinion that if that is indeed what was being done, then perhaps they could have found a different way to convey that message given the general negative response to the decision to “spoof” the Mandarin character. This has nothing to do with the film “Philadelphia” as that was clearly a movie MEANT to raise awareness and address that particular issue where as was supposed to be (still was) a summer blockbuster comic book film.

  24. OR, it’s all a conspiracy and the Mandarin is actually who he says he is. He’s playing a fool so no one is suspecting who he really is, playing everything in the background. Real fans should know that Mandarin has a love of theatrics and it wouldn’t be past him to play a part in order to slap it back in Iron Man’s face after and say “I was there, you could have had me, but you were a fool Tony Stark”

    • I’ve thought of that myself. It’d be the easiest way to apease the angry masses.

      But I think they should just stick with what they did and move on to other stories and characters.

  25. The only way you fan boys can beat the dead horse known as “mandarin ruined the movie” is to LITERALLY beat a dead horse at this point.
    Sure they couldve gone a different route but they didn’t.
    Move on.

    • I actually agree with you. As demonstrated in previous threads, I was one of the most “vocal” in my criticism of the twist, and the movie as a whole. But, once I got that out if my system, I have moved on (for the most part). And, I am stoked to watch Thor 2!!

  26. So people didn’t get what they were expecting and are now upset?

    Some people just can’t live outside a stale predictable environment.

  27. The twist is not a huge problem of the film. I like the concept of having this character feed into what people fear and the stereotypes that come with it while the real villain is anonymous and actually homegrown. My problem is the execution if that idea.

    It terms of the villains plot to distract the authorities and advance tensions, its a sick and smart move. Those Mandarin set the tone of ear and terror very well thanks to Ben Kingsley acting. However all the time spent on building and developing the Mandarin (decoy?) in my opinion and maybe others could have been spent on Killian who seemes rather weak in portrayal. Guy Pearce did a great job as well really good but the character himself was not written to be particularly effective. The audience was afraid of mostly what he can do- breathing fire and not being ao easy to kill etc- not of his mindset which up to the point of the twist the Mandarin was more fearsome by sheer personality than anything else.

    I actually walked in expecting the 10 rings to be a symbol of the Mandarin’s power and influence- ex. The terrorist network fron the first film- not the powerful extraterrestrial rings. I expected the essence of the character. Ben Kingsley showed that while Guy Pearce just seemed like a rather cliched villain whose motivations or goals is not huge after all. If Guy Pearce Killian!Mandarin character was given more weight and development and equally as menacing and fit the essence of who the Mandarin is than I am sure the twist would have been more well recieved. I believe so because we saw something similar in Batman Begins.

    Personally the twist and its intent was well thought out but the execution could have been better to get the message or tone across. The filmmakers spent a lot of effort building Ben Kingsley’s Mandarin in personality, attention grabbing attire, development for the first act in the film, and marketing that when introducing a less effective character – in writing obly as Guy Pierce did great with what he had- as the true Mandarin some were undoubtedly underwhelmed.

    Beyond that, the twist did not hurt the film as much people assume because its well
    thought out buts its execution could have been handled better and ultimately the underwhelming execution -because its not all bad just not good- led to or amplified provlems in the flow, tone, and direction of the story.

    The filn has other issues beyond the Mandarin twist that left the film okay at best. The twist just happened to be a piece of the acript that if handeled better, everything would have fallen into place a lot more smoothly. For example the abrupt tone shift from The menacing Mandarin to Trevor the actor is actually a manifestation of the cinflicting tones and direction of the film as a whole. If Shane Black really wanted ti explore the concept which is still present in a dilutes manner on screen if anonymity vs the expected, racial terrorist, then he should have focused the script more and the direction more to the point.

  28. I loved the surprise. Kingsley did a great job.

    It would be easy for Marvel to flip it back. The Mandarin could really be an evil genius who just pretended to be a goofy actor when confronted by Tony Stark with a pistol. He WAS the mastermind behind it all. TWWWIST!

    The only problem I had with IM3 was the fact that any time Stark was actually inside the Iron Man suit he was ineffectual. Completely useless. Even Rhodey was weak in the Iron Patriot armor. All the hero action by Stark and Rhodes was outside the armor. That made IM3 into a run of the mill MacGyver action movie.

    We watch Iron Man movies to see Stark kick ass IN the armor. Not by remote control….. or suit-less hand to hand combat.

  29. I thought the twist was amazing, didnt see it coming.

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