So Why Did The Mandarin Upset Some Iron Man Fans?

Word on the street is that Shane Black is lining up for a Doc Savage movie.  Well good for him.  And by now, I'm going to guess many, most or all of you have finally seen Iron Man 3.

If not, I'll be talking about some details about the movie that I'm going to think you do not want to have put out there before you see the movie.  In other words, spoiler alert!

Iron Man 3 - spoilers


With that said, if you've seen Iron Man 3, you discovered that The Mandarin was nothing but an out of work actor named Trevor (Ben Kingsley), that was hired by Aldrich Killian (Guy Pearce) to distract the media from his real on-going crimes.

As a long-time fan of the Iron Man comic franchise, I was very distracted by this change up to thoroughly enjoy the movie.  And yes, Iron Man 3 is a good movie.

But what director Shane Black did with the character of The Mandarin was a shocker.  It was a genius move because no one ever saw it coming, but it was a shocking development from many angles.

Now some folks who are only fans of the film franchise may not get why this surprising character reveal was so upsetting.  I had been chatting with a friend of mine who did not understand why it was such an upsetting change of events.

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First, I need to remind some folks that in the Iron Man film franchise, we had been hearing about "The Ten Rings" since the start.  Ten rings was a reference to The Mandarin and his 10 rings of power that he wields (In the comic franchise).

So there was some expectations due to that aspect of the hints dropped, that we'd finally see Tony Stark face off against The Mandarin.

And that was a very exciting prospect put forth by Jon Favreau.

It was exciting because in the comic franchise, The Mandarin was the long-time arch nemesis of Tony Stark.  He was nearly unstoppable with his 10 rings of power, rings that were of an alien origin.

So when fans imagined that these two enemies would finally meet on film, there were huge expectations.  The first movie set that expectation and the plethora of TV ads that Disney inundated fans with for the third movie fueled that expectation too.  But then we were blind-sided.

Ben Kingsley as The Mandarin in 'Iron Man 3'

As far as the comic world is concerned,to put it bluntly, The Mandarin is to Iron Man as Lex Luthor is to Superman and The Joker is to Batman.

And then Shane Black made The Mandarin a down and out, alcoholic, jobless actor.


Yes, it was a brilliant shell game that Black played on us with the characters.  A shell game much like when Tony fooled Pepper with his remote controlled armor. (Scene of IM on couch.)

So sure, he pulled a good one.  And upon subsequent viewings of the film, I've come to appreciate it more since I can now come into the film prepared for this development.  I can now appreciate the film as a whole, not the shell game.

I don't mind some change-ups thrown at fans.  The Marvel Cinematic Universe has done that again and again with various characters. This swap, on top of all the marketing spoiling 90% of all the great surprises of the film was just the icing on the cake.

It was frustrating for the fans of the comics.

And later on, in an interview, Black's reasoning for his treatment of The Mandarin, was as follows:

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.
“I think that’s a message that’s more interesting for the modern world, because I think there’s 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.”
So the next time you hear someone you know grumble about how The Mandarin ended up in Iron Man 3, well, there you have it! They may still be right in their perceptions, but there's Black's reasoning. For what it's worth.

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