The Mandarin Debate
by J.D. Cook
I know I’m a broken record about my dislike for Iron Man 3’s choice to make the Mandarin a non-character but come on! If it was any other super villain people would have hated it but because people really only like Iron Man movies and don’t actually read his comics or know his mythology no one cared. I mean people keep going on about how the Mandarin is this big racist character but has anyone read him in recent years? I have and I loved what he’s evolved into. The last comic I read that involved him he was trying to use Extremis to purge the world of the weak and create a utopia of the survivors. He went by various nick names all drawn from Genghis Khan, he fought Stark via a corporation he created and the ten rings were infused into his spine. I’d also add that the ten rings aren’t magic they are a form of highly advanced technology so they would have fit right into the Iron Man movies My point is that the Mandarin is a richly developed character who has grown since he first battled Iron Man in the sixties. Was he a racist stereotype when he first debuted? OF COURSE! Did he evolve past that into a real character? YES!
I mean if the logic goes that a character is racist based on their origin and name then Captain America is the most racist character ever created. He’s an Arian who goes by the moniker Captain America and he fights explicitly for American interests. Who is he to channel an entire continent filled with all sorts of people and claim to fight for them!? Now hopefully you are saying but J.D. Cook Captain America has changed since his original debut back during World War Two and I’d say yes! You are absolutely correct! He has evolved to have his own character and while he still fights for American values at times, those values have changed and grown with the character! Just like the Mandarin was originally a racist character created to negatively portray America’s enemies during the Vietnam War. Since then he evolved into a sort of Ming the Merciless character before updating into a modern day corporate super villain with a twisted sense of honor about him.
So to wrap this up while I disliked the twist in Iron Man 3 I don’t have a problem with it being done for the sake of surprise and fun. I do have a problem with people, including the director, saying the Mandarin is too racist and his rings are too silly to be put in a movie. I mean it’s not like his name even is the Mandarin. It’s a default title others give him because he does not want to reveal his past. Remember that George Clooney movie a few years ago…what was it called? Oh yeah…THE AMERICAN! Why, well I didn’t see it, but I’d assume because Clooney is an assassin in a foreign country who doesn’t give out his name too often so people just start referring to him as the American because there aren’t too many Americans in their country and it distinguishes him in the absence of a name! Oh and the Mandarins parents are not even both Chinese one is a descendent of Genghis Khan and one is an ENGLISH noblewoman! I hope I’ve managed to change some people’s minds on the Mandarin now. Go read about him I mean he doesn’t even fight for China he’s constantly in conflict with them because he wants to be a dictator over his own land! Argh I’m just going now because this issue drives me bonkers.