‘Iron Man 3′: Mandarin Won’t Have Magic Rings, Will Be ‘Creative Interpretation’

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Iron Man 3 Interviews The Mandarin Movie Comic Book Differences Iron Man 3: Mandarin Wont Have Magic Rings, Will Be Creative Interpretation

When the Mandarin makes his big screen launch in Iron Man 3, he’ll be missing one—make that ten—important weapons: his rings. While early shots of Ben Kingsley’s portrayal of the Mandarin have shown his hands cluttered with jewelry, director Shane Black stressed during an early press day for the film that the rings are no longer imbued with individual superpowers like flames, ice, mental control, disintegration, and matter-rearranging.

In fact, the rings no longer have special powers at all—and Black knows that fans might not be happy.

Explained Black:

“I hate to break it to you, but he’s not from space in this. The rings are rings. They’re showmanship, they’re accoutrements. They’re paraphernalia of warfare that he sort of drapes himself with. He studies Sun Tzu, he studies insurgency tactics. He surrounds himself with dragons and symbols of warlords and Chinese iconography because he wants to represent this sort of prototypical terrorist who—we use as the example Colonel Kurtz from Apocalypse Now—may have been an American, may have been a British National, someone who is out there doing field work, supervising atrocities for the intelligence community who went nuts in the field and became this sort of devotee of war tactics, and now has surrounded himself with a group of people over which he presides, and the only thing that unifies them is this hatred of America.”

iron man 3 trailer198 570x242 Iron Man 3: Mandarin Wont Have Magic Rings, Will Be Creative Interpretation

The decision erases one of the Mandarin’s key defenses, but it does make a certain amount of sense given Black’s goals for the film. Black wants Iron Man 3‘s tone to be as natural as possible, which means taking liberties with a character who has, in the past, been dismissed by some as an Asian caricature. Like in The Dark Knight—a film he name-checked as a reference point—Black wanted to ground the Mandarin in real world tactics.

“One of the joys for me has always been seeing how you take a villain from the comic book and realize him in a slightly more realistic way for the movie—render him for movies in a way that’s recognizable, but different. That’s fun. Like the Joker in The Dark Knight is not the Joker from the comic book, but there’s just enough of him that you recognize him and go, ‘Wow, what a creative way of interpreting the Joker for motion pictures.’ So that was our task here, too. The fans love this character of the Mandarin and we just said, ‘Well, what we don’t want is this potentially racist, stereotype of a Fu Manchu villain just waving his fist.’”

Even hardcore fans can agree that certain comic book versions of the Mandarin could use an update. But even if people are glad Mandarin won’t be waving his fist, will they still wish the rings on his fist could, say, blast electricity?

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Iron Man 3 will be in theaters on May 3, 2013.

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  1. I wasn’t huge into the comics featuring the Mandarin, so perhaps I’m not the best to judge, but I think this is perfectly reasonable. In the context of the Marvel universe, so far, things have attempted to at least be somewhat grounded in reality. Iron Man and Captain America both have their basis at least within the realm of fictional science, and Thor is framed as being a super-advanced form of it. As Thor claims in his first movie, it’s not just outright magic, but it is far-removed from what humans are capable of.

    I think that magic has a place in the Marvel universe right now, but it’s largely in the outer space realms. Things beyond human control or ability. The idea is to at least allow the audience to suspend disbelief with the assumption that things that appear to be magic (or even are called magic) are just advanced technology.

    Iron Man, however, as an individual franchise is nowhere near those themes. The Avengers and the MCU have their elements, but Iron Man solo films are all about tech and human ability. It’s about intelligence and ingenuity, not magic. If they’re going with the Extremis plot, then the inevitable themes are “when does it stop being just a suit? Where’s the line between man and machine?”

    That theme just doesn’t work very well against an enemy you’re facing that has magic rings that shoot electricity. The battle needs to be of both wits and ideology. Not repulsor blaster versus magic ring.

    • Magic rings that shoot electricity aren’t much different than a hammer that hurls electricity or a suit of armor that ‘shoots electricity’ (repulsor, whatever—it’s still power coming out of some guys hand), or a little box that can teleport people around the universe and provide unlimited energy.
      I don’t see any reason why we can’t have ‘advanced technology’ rings that the mandarin found and perhaps utilizes sparingly. I mean, didn’t he find them in a wrecked space ship in the comics?? Aren’t we getting ready to move into space with the Guardians and Thor? (and actually already did with Avengers and every mention of a Tesseract/Cosmic Cube.)

      The first movie even included the terrorist organization founded on the 10 rings. I mean, you can’t even think ‘The Mandarin’ without thinking of ‘The 10 rings’, so it seems odd to me that they’d be put in the background as a metaphor.

      I’m sure I’ll love the movie, but it seems to me they’re taking the easy way out. “It’s too hard to work advanced technology rings into the movie, so we’ll just make them normal rings with ‘meaning’.”

      • Agreed, I guess this would be to close to Thanos’ move set if the go with the Infinity Gauntlet… I just knew they would do this to Mandarin.

      • They were going for spy novel feel for this movie: sure there’s flying robot suits and stuff like that but I feel like a terrorist mastermind who also has out-of-place magic laser rings wouldn’t fit quite right with the story.

        I was all for Mandarin actually having his alien-tech rings in this movie but I do think the path they’ve taken makes sense and feels right.

        • Out-of-place magic laser rings are neither magic nor out-of-place if they’re really advanced alien technology, especially when you consider the lead character who is soul-searching because he just fought an alien horde from outer-space with giant armored flying squid thingies…
          Kinda throws the whole ‘out-of-place’ perspective out the window…

          I understand why they took the ‘magic rings’ out, I just think it was a lazy decision and they could have made some room for them. I’m sure it’ll be a great film either way.

          • It’s just a little too much. If you have Tony with a ton of suits & tech, plus War Machine, plus the Extremis dudes, it’s fair to think that maybe there should be SOME grounding elements in the film. Making Mandarin a hardcore strategist with resources is a good way to do it, giving him alien power rings on top of it seems to put it a little over the top when it’s already getting over-the-top to begin with.

            • BS

    • well said sir!

    • Mandarin’s rings were alien technology, not necessarily “magic.” The Mandarin very much wanted to use technology to conquer the world. The “rings” were actually the propulsion system of the alien ship in which he found them. Which, judging by what the rings did, it could easily be reasoned that all of them combined enabled intergalactic space travel, but the Mandarin dismantled & re-purposed the tech into individual uses, rather than just the one. Magic really has nothing to do with it. No incantations. No goblins or fairies. Alien tech. Which we’ve already seen aliens in the Cinema-Marvel universe, so it’s not crazy. I think they missed out on possibly making an AMAZING movie. This one was rather boring.

  2. I may not be remembering this correctly, but didn’t the previous films mention “The 10 Rings” as a shadow organization?

    As long as they retain the symbolism of “10 Rings”, I’m fine with them not having any “powers”.

    But this is also why I’m not too happy about the rumored Extremis element. I prefer Stark to remain as normal as possible (well… as normal as someone with a nuclear-level power plant as a heart can be).

    • I like the idea that he is desperate for a way to one-up whatever he going against, so he decides to go “under the knife” so to speak to get the Extremis tech in him. That was what I liked about the original “Extremis” story as well.

  3. As long as this movie isn’t another Marvel version of Rock ’em Sock ’em Robots, I’m cool. I think they (filmmakers) are aware of that too, the way they poked fun at themselves by having Iron Man and War Machine punching each other in a scene from IM2. No more, please, and judging by the trailer, I think we’re safe from another retread.

  4. Transposing the comics to live action film would look and feel straight up silly 99% of the time. You have to change things around to work on film with flesh and blood actors.

    If you want to see the comics brought to life in motion, that is the forum for animated features. That is why there is still a place for them, where they can stick much more closely to the source material. You can’t make alot of that stuff work on film… see Fantastic 4 and Batman Forever etc…

    • Have you not heard of CGI? its realistic enough now that we can do direct comic adaptations. The problem is that its different when put on screen. Take Toby McGuire’s Spiderman. Stan Lee said he nailed the part…yet many Spiderman fans hated the nerdy Peter Parker/Spiderman. So what did they do? In the last movie, they made a “cool” Peter Parker instead of the nerdy one. Again, my point is that it really is different on screen than in print. CGI makes almost anything possible, but it won’t matter if the critics don’t like the characters as they are portrayed on the screen.

      • Woah woah woah…. what Spider-man fan hated a nerdy version? There were parts of McGuire’s performance that a lot of people didn’t like, but it had NOTHING to do with Parker being nerdy. If anything he wasn’t nerdy enough. People know Parker isn’t “cool” so why would they want that in Garfield’s interpretation?

        Spider-man 1-3 got rebooted as Amazing Spider-man because of one thing: Sony wanted Spider-man 4 in too-short a time frame (when you don’t have enough time to develop a film, it turns out as crap) and Raimi said “I’m not doing it if you stick to that timeframe.” McGuire said “I’m not doing it without Raimi.” Sony said “okay, we’ll start over.”

        There was no “parker is too nerdy, let’s do it as a ‘cool’ guy instead.”

        • If you ask me, McGuire’s spidey didn’t have the comedic wit that spidey’s always had. Sure, they had him say some things that were supposed to be funny & piss off the bad guys, but McGuire must’ve sucked at it because I found nothing of his acting as spidey to be funny. Mostly sad & depressed. As one who knows how to hide sadness with comedy at any & all times, I know McGuire didn’t pull that off in the least.

  5. It is not really that difficult to create these rings.. maybe put a weird scientific-cosmic thingy that charges them then Tony could get to this power source and find a convenient single point of failure that.. wait! I had heard that before, forget it.

    • Then the DC fanboys would be screaming about Marvel ripping off Green Lantern.

      • You seem to find it difficult to stick to the topic at hand…methinks YOU are a Marvel fanboy…with a chip on his shoulder.

  6. magic? his 10 rings were all alien technology he robbed out of a crashed spacecraft. each ring did a different thing. disintegration ray, energy blast, etc…
    now i think it would have been great to tie that angle in to thanos and guardians of the galaxy… but i’m completely cool with how they are doing it in the movie. the mandarin was never a favorite villain of mine… BUT IF THEY BRING FIN FANG FOOM IN AS THE BIG ENEMY I WILL PROBABLY DIE. more realistically a giant robot dragon… i will be satisfied with that also, lol

    • Worthless trivia:

      Fin Fang Foom was from Tales to Astonish when it featured endless giant monster stories that were popular just before the the Marvel Superheros craze in the early 60’s. He appeared in Iron Man later. Another “Monster” from TtA was Groot, who is going to be featured in Guardians of the Galaxy.

      • Cool deal.

      • i am super pumped groot is coming to screen. really banking on them making a groot build a figure

  7. The pimpandarin!

  8. Frankly they should have had the magic rings or at least advanced them with some type of technology that could enabled them to shootout some type of weaponry. Not surprised that they’re doing without them though,but I certainly hope that Marvel doesn’t make it a habit of cheapening Villians of they’re certain abilities.

  9. Aw, nuts. I was hoping for some hand-to-hand, ring slinging Mandarin action…

    • Same, would have been epic.

      • Same. It’s why I wanted to see the movie. The terrorist angle was even acceptable to me, as what else would you call someone bent on conquering the world? But no rings is failure 1. Making him a lazy actor & completely fake so Aldrich could later call himself the Mandarin, whilst giving him similar powers to Radioactive man, when in the Comics Aldrich never had powers & in fact committed suicide at his desk is failure 2,3,4,5, awe hell… it’s like they wanted to scream in your face “WE HAVE YOUR MONEY! HA HA!”

    • Maybe a task that needs to be done against time and Tony needing to redeem himself after something that he did could work. Can you put Tony’s evil twin in the mix played by Nic Cage (If they don’t need him for Strange).

      • NO!!! Absolutely NO Nicolas Cage. Let him remain in his f**gy Ghost Rider cheese-a-thon movies.

      • Come on! Cage of Strange? Seriously? I prefer George Clooney for the doctor.

          • clooney would probably give us dr. strange nipples

  10. Really Marvel? What is so hard with doing things that aren’t realistic? You have a thunder god and a big green rage monster in your corner: how hard can it be to have a sorcerer as a villain instead of yet another terrorist with military weapons? It would’ve been more interesting to see magic vs. technology, considering Doctor Strange is on the way soon

    • Just be happy any of these properties have been made into quality live action movies.

    • The rings weren’t magic. They were alien tech. As for Dr. Strange, just you wait. They’ll make him a gynecologist w/ no powers ever. They’ll re-purpose him entirely & it wont even be a superhero movie. Watch it be a movie where Dr. Strange just gets all the ladies w/ his “magic hands” gyno techniques or something.

  11. I think that this movie needs a giant-cloud-like bad guy

    • Now I have to remember what they did to Parallax in the Green Lantern movie. Also, I have to remember the Green Lantern movie. ><

  12. Wow! If they’re comparing Mandarin to Colonel Kurtz; this movie is gonna be crazy!!

  13. Are any other comics nerds annoyed that Shane Black thinks The Mandarin was from outer space in the comics?
    “I hate to break it to you, but he’s not from space in this. The rings are rings. ”

    Mandarin wasn’t from space, he found the rings in a crashed spaceship. Oh well. In the larger picture it’s more important that Black brings an A game to the film. It’s fine that he doesn’t know the exact details of the comic character.

    • I assumed he mispoke. Either way, from space or a crash landed spaceship. Potato / Potato.

    • I got the impression he may have said it that way on purpose to make a bigger point of how out of place it would be for what he wanted to do with the film. But thats just an interpretation…

  14. What, if not magic rings, could iron man bring to confront the mandarn with all his armors?

  15. I’m not too surprised. It’s more consistant with the established, more “real world” leaning Iron Man movies. I’m glad they’re sticking to that post-Avengers. I actually like what I’m seeing with Mandarin. It’s a great way to bring the character to the screen.

  16. What about one of the rings having Mordor inscriptions?

  17. As much as I like Iron man, some characters have things that are key to them. The Mandarin has his rings…they are what makes him. I don’t mind the warlord human story so much…but eventually, they have to give Mandarin his rings. You couldn’t have the Hulk without him being big or Joker without his clown makeup and purple suit, Ironman wouldn’t be the same without being red and gold color, imagine Mr. Freeze without his freeze ray gun, or Superman without his red cape. Sure, they can start without that stuff…but to be the characters they are meant to be, they eventually have to build up to their iconic status.

    • That would be their ONLY chance at redemption. If they take the guy in the movie who was just pretending to be the Mandarin finds himself in the Valley of Spirits somehow in a later movie & he actually stumbles upon the alien craft where the rings are. THEN he could be a force worth reckoning that even the Avengers might need to assemble to stop. Sadly, I doubt they’ll do anythin to redeem themselves of the atrocity that the Mandarin was in this movie.

  18. They could put the magic in the rings at another movie and make the Mandarin return. About the whole Dr Strange thing, George Clooney would be my pick, just forget about Cage.

    • I agree, that should definitely be left as a possibility. But hell no to Cage being Dr. Strange. Too bad there isn’t creepy actors like Vincent Price anymore. Vincent Price would have been perfect for Dr. Strange. Sometimes I think the character was made in the hopes for Mr. Price to have played the part on screen in some movie.

      • Johnny Depp can do creepy

      • I agree that Vincent Price was made for Dr. Strange. That would have been perfect casting.

  19. I have to agree with the last comment about him getting the rings or powers later. I could be down for an end scene of some “space” villain coming to Mandarin and bestowing the powers (or teaching him how to tap into the powers) from his rings with the ultimate purpose of bringing down Tony Stark (he can’t live forever). Either way, I can’t wait to see this film. Marvel – you rock!

  20. At all the people who complain about the rings not being magic rings:

    If there´s a guy who has a weapon so damn powerful that Stark needs dozens of Iron Men to defeat him, why does he need magic rings?

    Also, am I the only one who saw Cap´s original WWII helmet in that pic above?

    • its a UN helmet

  21. Doctor Strange will actually be a billionaire who instead of magic uses technology.

    • Magic is just technology we haven’t seen yet. :)

  22. Why does it need to be “a little more grounded”? I was told that you could get as goofy as you wanted and fans would just accept it. I’m looking at you, Pocket Possum, or Rocket Raccoon, whatever.

    • depends on the film. A more realistic film should be more realistic grounding. This isn’t My Little Pony, where the directors can make up crap as they go.

      • Rocket Raccoon being in a movie is not too far from My Lil Pony. In fact, the Ponies are more believable.

      • Except for the fact that Stan Lee and Don Heck made this “s***” up almost half a century ago. Not quite what you’re implying…

        • Stan Lee made My Lil Pony too? The dude’s brilliance never ends.

  23. Count me among the disappointed. The rings were never “magic” as everyone wants to call them. One of the key aspects of the books was how Tony realized that they were advanced tech and would respond with tech to counter them. Making the Mandarin a “pop-culture terrorist” seems off, and as much as I’m sure Kingsley will do this villain justice, it won’t be Mandy.

    • No one thinks they’re actually “magic.” Comic nerds know they’re technological. People say “magic” when talking about the rings to imply they have power without going into the whole explanation – it’s shorthand.

  24. When guys like Thor, Superman, Green Lantern, and yes: Iron Man all fly around with their various aspects like they do, then they are, and Mandarin (rings & all!!) IS the real world! Bring back Mandarin with his 10 ray-zap rings, and have him duke it out with IM like a good mandarin should!

  25. I think I can understand some nerdrage. I’m quite fine with the rings being simple adornments or jewelry. But when I give it thought, I would at least have…

    One ring – a secret compartment which has a USB drive or chip that uploads/downloads computer viruses.

    Ring #2 – a poison/toxin that if an opponent gets nicked in a fight, they have a minute to live.

    Ring #3 – antidote for said toxin (used on self)

    Ring #4 – radio transmitter that could/does set off a bomb

    Ring #5 – flashlight for seeing in the dark

    Ring #6 – A laser pointer. Harmless overall, but good for blinding and pointing out places on maps

    Ring #7 – EMP

    Ring #8 – “SHIELD has many enemies” This is the one ring that was made through a sample from the tesseract, thanks to Loki. Not as potent as Hydra had in Captain America. Doesn’t seem to work, really. Then one day, he plays with it and out pops Johann Schmidt…

    Ring #9 and 10- Rings that once belonged to captured/murdered generals, kings, politicians etc. Ind imitation purposes.

    Seriously though, I’m fine with this, the rings just being for show (most likely 9 and 10 ) …but I do think that Mandarin won’t really need the rings to be a threat says a lot.

    • Are you trying to keep the mandarin as a school teacher or super villain? I find it hard to take a villain seriously, that has a laser pointer,

  26. I understand where Shane Black was coming from with this but I think that he could have done something else with the 10 rings that would have help to satisfy the hardcore comic book fans while still keeping it more reality based. Instead of actually having the rings embedded with superpowers (ie -electricity, fire, etc), why could each ring simply be a control-transmitter that activates another device that shoots electrical bolts or something? Hear me out for a sec. What if the Mandarin had developed these mobile-flying weapons (like the size of drones). One would be like a flame thrower, the other emits electrical bolts, etc. all of these devices again would be controlled by tranmitters in his rings. This would make him a techno genius and terrorists at the same time. This would have also made for some interesting fight scenes with him battling Iron Man with these 10 different drone type machines flying through the air in a climatic battle.

  27. We have a God that shoots lightning from a Hammer, a guy who turns green and muscular when he’s angry, and coming soon, a Raccoon and Tree that talk… and Magic or Alien Tech Rings don’t fit in? Now Mandarin is interchangeable with any other terrorist character… he’s a smart guy w/ resources to fight Tony Stark / Iron Man… that could be anyone (and honestly is just like the last two movies) If you take away the Mandarin’s Power Rings, you take away that one element that made him unique. Just try to describe the Mandarin w/o mentioning his power rings with out making him sound like every other generic terrorist? In Iron Man 1, he fights Stane: Smart guy, Robot Suit. In Iron Man 2, he fights Justin Hammer : Smart guy, lots of resources, robots… so in Iron Man 3 he fights another smart guy whos’ not really any different than the other two… I’m sure I’ll like the movie, I’m sure I’ll enjoy the Mandarin… but would I enjoy it more if he had Rings that Shot out Ice, Fire, Electricity, Etc… hell yeah! Plus I think they’re missing a HUGE marketing opportunity for kids… what kid wants a bunch of rings that are just decorative? My kids want rings that shoot fire and stuff!

    • You seem to be missing the argument people are making here. Having Mandarin be a little more conventional (not having powers, just being a very smart terrorist) is not a matter of “the rings wouldn’t be real enough!” That’s obviously not an argument given that there are so many other unreal things in the Marvel films. The argument being made is that with all the crazy stuff going on in the movie already, it serves the balance of the story to have some basic “we are familiar with that” grounding in the form of Mandarin.

      • Rich, I agree with you 110%.

        Ken, I don’t think that this movie needs more ‘we are familiar with that’ since everyone knows the lead characters very well at this point. Not a very good argument coming off an avenger movie with previously unknown death-worshipping aliens, yet being one of the highest grossing movies in history.

        I’m having trouble understanding how they’re going to make the Mandarin an Ironman worthy threat without the rings and technology to keep him on par. Ironman just took on an Alien armada, fought the God of Lightning, and drove a nuclear weapon into outer-space.
        Kind of hard to believe that a normal (albeit genius) terrorist could pose a serious threat, much less get the better of him (especially since he’s a genius himself.) Seems sort of disingenuous to me…

        • There you go, you answered your own query without grasping it.

          The entire point is that even a superhero like stark with all his gizmos and genius can be taken on by someone who doesn’t have superpowers. That’s why this approach works and that’s why I understand Shane Black taking this route. it’s a recurring theme in the comics; great heroes can still be taken on with conventional villainy.

          That said, I’m GLAD no one can see how Mandarin is going to take on Stark without the rings: I don’t WANT to know until I see the g-ddamned movie. It’s funny how, with RDJ and Ben Kingsley and Guy Pearce (great cast), Shane Black (perfect director for this film), great effects houses involved, promising trailers, that people can gripe about one thing that may not even be a major problem in the end.

          Maybe it’s the comics nerd in me, maybe I’m too open minded and I should be more insistent on every version of something being identical to the next…but I’d much rather understand new approaches and see how they turn out. I’d rather enjoy things evolving than being stuck in how they used to be.

      • Ken… I’m not worried about what “argument people are making here” I’m making my own argument based on the post… thanks though.

        • You’re a little too bitchy for this site. There’s no need to be a snot.

          • Sorry Ken, I wasn’t shooting for B****y or Snotty… just saying I think you missed the point of MY post.

            • No, I got what you’re point was. I assumed you were taking into account all the prior posts in your response because that’s the nature of the site: read through what’s been said because the discussions can inform what you think & write.