The Mandarin is now ‘a student of warfare and ancient Chinese symbology’

mandarin iron man 3

It’s no secret that the Mandarin is going to be very different from his comic book counterpart in Iron Man 3. In the comic books, he’s half-Chinese and has many different special powers, thanks to his ten power rings. In the movie, he’s obsessed with Chinese symbols and dragons, but his nationality is unknown. Director Shane Black goes into detail on The Mandarin’s background for Iron Man 3.

“[Mandarin] has an intelligence background. His nationality is not even clear because he’s shrouded in secrecy, but at some point, this field officer went nuts and became a student of warfare and ancient Chinese symbology and drew from South American insurgency tactics and has created around himself this little world of warfare,” Black said. “The only unifying principal of which seems to be a hatred of the United States, so he represents every terrorist, in a way. But specifically, he’s crafted himself in the manner of the Mandarin, of a warlord.”

Since the Iron Man movies have all been grounded in reality, the ten power rings was likely going to be removed. At least he’s still wearing ten fancy rings. As for the whole Fu Manchu stereotyping, I still think Shane Black could’ve hired an Asian actor to play the Mandarin without stereotyping him.

“I think that’s great, because you get to do the comic book, but you don’t have to deal with the specifics of Fu Manchu stereotyping,” Black said. “We’re not saying he’s Chinese. We’re saying that he in fact draws a cloak around him of Chinese symbols and dragons because it represents his obsession with Sun Tzu and various ancient arts of warfare that he has studied.”

As an Asian I would like to see more Asian actors represented on screen, especially if they have a chance of becoming an iconic villain. But hey, I’m not a Hollywood director, so I don’t get to make the calls. At least Hogun from Thor was played by Tadanobu Asano, an Asian actor.


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