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New Escapist Column! On Why the Mandarin from “Iron Man 3” Remains One of the Best Marvel Villains…

I published a new In the Frame piece at The Escapist this evening. With the release of Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings next week, it seemed like a good opportunity to take a look back at Iron Man 3, and that movie’s attempt to update the Mandarin for the twenty-first century.

Long treated as Tony Stark’s arch-nemesis, the Mandarin is a complicated character with a very troubled history. The character is built around yellow peril stereotypes, and is easily recognisable as a classic Fu Manchu archetype. Part of what made Iron Man 3 so compelling and so interesting was the way in which the film wasn’t just built around the Mandarin as a character, but instead explored and interrogated the concept. It was a film about how pop culture, film and television, creates images of foreign enemies in service of the politic demands of the moment. Iron Man 3 explores that idea brilliantly.

You can read the piece here, or click the picture below.

The Mandarin Candidate: Legacies From A By-Gone Era

Jon Favreau has effectively confirmed that “the Mandarin” will be the villain for Iron Man 3. Of course, the fact that this particular opponent has been the character’s arch nemesis means that we would have expected him on celluloid long before this – most superhero movies take great joy in using the archnemesis for the original film, after all (Batman Begins managed to just about do without the Joker, but arguably only because he’d already done Batman). Part of the reason it may have taken so long to transition this particular character to the big screen may have something to do with his origins: essentially the character is a yellow peril villain (as the name implies), who was arguably long out of date when he was introduced, let alone now. Favreau has, diplomatically, acknowledged that the character is going to take great care to get ready for a film role, and it got us thinking: how do we deal with long term and iconic characters who may reflect concepts that we aren’t particularly comfortable with right now?

Yep, this doesn't conjure up any unfortunate implications at all...

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