Sunday, May 5, 2013

Villain Spotlight: The Mandarin

Without giving much away the version of the Mandarin we see in Iron Man 3 is a much different character from the Mandarin you find in the comics. The director of Iron Man 3 originally didn't even want to use the Mandarin at all as he considered the character to be, as he put it, "a racist caricature". But is he? Well, I will grant you the way artists tended to draw him, especially in the silver and bronze age comics was pretty, shall we say, insensitive.

Yeah. I kinda see your point on that one. But does that really mean that the character at his core is a racist caricature? I don't think so. First of all for those of you who don't know his deal the Mandarin is a Chinese man very obsessed with ancient Chinese culture. He also has 10 magic rings that each do different things. But the conflict between him and Iron Man goes a little deeper than just magic vs technology. It's the futurist vs the traditionalist. It's about more than just the weapons the two men wield but the viewpoints they hold. 

I don't mind the changes to the character made in the movie, in fact I rather like them. I can't say I was ever a huge fan of the Mandarin and find the movie version to be a bit more interesting. But I think one sells the Mandarin short as a character to reduce him to simply the rather insensitive art and writing styles of the 60's. There have been plenty of good Mandarin vs Iron Man stories in the comics and will most likely be plenty more. 

And while I'm on the subject of the Mandarin, let's get a little nostalgic for a moment. The first time I ever saw the Mandarin was on a Marvel vs DC trading card of him fighting Black Adam. I was so new to comics I had never heard of either and didn't even know which one was which at first.
Ahhh, good times.

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