Defending 'Iron Man 3''s Big Plot Twist

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by Matt Singer
May 3, 2013 10:07 AM
233 Comments
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"Iron Man 3."

This article contains MASSIVE SPOILERS for "Iron Man 3." Like big enough to fly an Iron Patriot through. Reader discretion is advised.

It's weeks like this where comic book fans make me a little ashamed to be a comic book fan. 

A small but vocal group of comic book lovers are deeply upset with "Iron Man 3," the excessively entertaining $200 million-plus budgeted superhero spectacular. They are not upset with the movie because it's bad -- that would be a legitimate complaint -- they're upset because it's good, but not in the same way that the original comic books were good. Specifically, they're upset about The Mandarin, and about how the character is different in the movie than in the comics.

Admittedly, he is very different. In the comics, The Mandarin is one of Iron Man's oldest and deadliest foes. A Chinese scientist, martial artist, supposed descendant of Genghis Khan, and supremely angry dude, he wields ten rings with ten different powers -- fire, ice, disintegration, etc. He's fought Tony Stark on countless occasions dating back to the mid-1960s when he was created by writer Stan Lee and artist Don Heck. He's not to be trifled with. He puts the super in supervillain.

In "Iron Man 3," the figure that most closely resembles The Mandarin of the comics is played by Ben Kingsley, who sports a Baptist preacher's Southern accent, flowing Asian-style robes, and a vaguely Osama bin Laden-ish long, scraggly beard. He also shares bin Laden's penchant for self-aggrandizing videos, which he submits to the media as a means of terrorizing the world's populace. For a while, The Mandarin seems every bit the arch-nemesis longtime Iron Man fans had come to expect.

Then writer/director Shane Black pulls a swerve: The Mandarin isn't the Mandarin, he's a drug-addicted theater actor named Trevor, who was hired by the movie's true villain -- Guy Pearce's Aldrich Killian -- to portray a terrorist he invented in order to deflect attention from his real schemes. In "Iron Man 3"'s final scene, Killian calls himself "The Mandarin," but his powers, origin, and motivations are substantially different from the Mandarin's of the comics. And nobody -- not Killian, not Trevor, not anybody -- ever uses even one of those ten power rings.

Those facts have incensed some cranky comic book fans. You'll find them in the comments section of just about every "Iron Man 3" review on the Internet; here's a very typical one from a reader on Badass Digest:

"I hate it because the real comic book mandarin was a super powerful enemy who lusted for world domintation using his super powerful alien rings and also has fin fang foom as an allied, in this case, this mandarin, the one guy pearce did had nothing to do with the original mandarin, it's like, imagine batman TDK, and the joker it's a only a silly clown who was created by a mafia organization, and the joker turns out to be ntohig but a cover, I know that it's different a nolan movie than a marvel movie, but I cry because the mandarin is such a great Iron man nemesis and now I think that it was wasted, despite of how clever was that plot twist or whatever, does anyone knows who the real mandarin was?"

If you want to argue that Black botches the twist, that's fine. If you want to argue that he telegraphs it or that you suspected it was true all along, that's fine (I think you're a liar, but that's fine). If you want to argue that Killian's plans make absolutely no sense, that's definitely fine (and I'm right there with you). But if you dislike "Iron Man 3" purely for the reason that the Mandarin is not "THE Mandarin" that is not fine. On multiple levels.

For one thing, "THE Mandarin" is kind of a racist caricature. And that's not me talking; that's Shane Black, the co-writer/director of "Iron Man 3," who described The Mandarin with those very words way back in 2011 at an appearance at Long Beach Comic-Con. The issues around The Mandarin as he was conceived in 1964 are clearly outlined in an article at io9 entitled "How Big is 'Iron Man 3''s 'Fu Manchu' Problem?" Here's comic book writer Marjorie M. Liu succinctly summarizing the character:

"The Mandarin is pretty much a direct descendent of the Fu Manchu yellow peril caricature -- at best Orientalist, at worst, racist. The diabolic Asiatic is a hoary Hollywood staple -- one of many stereotypes that Asian Americana have long had to endure -- whether it's the Fu Manchu, the Kung Fu master, the Dragon Lady, or the bucktooth nerd."

So to make a "faithful" recreation of "THE Mandarin" is to traffic in some really nasty stereotypes. Yes, I know some very talented recent writers have tried to modernize and reinvent the character in the pages of Marvel Comics. Some of have succeeded (others, I'd argue, haven't). But either way, by doing "THE Mandarin" you are courting, if not outright endorsing, cultural insensitivity. I think "Iron Man 3" rather brilliantly evades that minefield by using it as the fuel for satire; revealing the Kingsley Mandarin's mish-mosh of Orientalist imagery as a construction designed to play into ignorant people's fears. Black suggests we should be far more worried about the well-dressed, amoral CEO than the vaguely defined "Other" of so many bad pieces of pop culture.

But let's take cultural insensitivity out of the equation for the moment. Even if "THE Mandarin" was a thoroughly positive portrait of Chinese culture, that wouldn't change the fact that the twist brilliantly subverts all our expectations for a moment that is fun and exciting. True, Kingsley never shoots anybody with his power rings. But he gets to do something even better: he gets to surprise us.

It's precisely that surprise that is tantamount to treason to this intense strain of comic book fandom (and here the guy with the shrine to Spider-Man in his office thought he had the intense strain of comic book fandom. I guess not). These readers never want to be surprised. They just want to see the comic books they already own recreated on the big screen. 

But filmmakers are not court stenographers, and movies are not transcripts. Sure, power rings are cool. But even without them "Iron Man 3" still has about a dozen different suits of armor, each with their own powers. It also has human bombs, dudes who can melt steel with their hands, and Iron Man saving people falling from Air Force One by turning them into a human version of Barrel of Monkeys. That's a lot of cool even without the Mandarin zapping people.

As an obsessive comic book reader for most of my life, one of the things I'm fascinated by are the ways in which the characters in comics prove resistant to change. Superman dies -- then comes back from the dead. Batman is paralyzed -- then gets better and returns to the job. Wolverine loses his adamantium skeleton and devolves into a weird-looking dog-dude -- then gets his adamantium claws, along with his normal(ish) face. In comics circles; these storylines and their reversals are referred to as the "illusion of change," because in comics no deviation from a concept's status quo is ever truly permanent. Things seem to change, but they never really do.

This week -- in which some comic book fans have rejected a really ingenious story because it doesn't fit into their expectations, and others have thrown a fit because an African-American actor might get cast as the traditionally white Human Torch in an upcoming "Fantastic Four" movie -- has given me a new perspective on the illusion of change. It's not just the characters that resist change; their audience does too. Everything must remain the same, all the time, over and over again. No wonder so many comics feel so tired; they have to be. Their readers demand it.

Part of what I liked about "Iron Man 3" was the fact that it did something different. Where some readers saw a slap in the face, I saw a refreshing change. If you're going to a movie just to see everything you already know recreated note for note, why even bother going in the first place? Save your $13 and reread the old books. Those will never change.

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233 Comments

  • Strangefolk | March 2, 2014 3:53 AMReply

    Everyone watch the One-Shot "All hail the king" before commenting. It contains crucial information on this topic

  • Duder NME | January 21, 2014 5:31 AMReply

    "If you want to argue that he telegraphs it or that you suspected it was true all along, that's fine (I think you're a liar, but that's fine)"

    I didn't see it coming until the movie telegraphed it for me, but that's fine (I think your a douchestain, but that's not fine). The Vice President twist, on the other hand...

  • BishiBashi | January 6, 2014 11:22 PMReply

    I completely agree with this article. I wonder though, if Shane Black gets this much hate for reinventing The Mandarin, then why hasn't Christopher Nolan gotten any hate for what he did to his villains in the DK trilogy?

    - Scarecrow is a really creepy guy with a worn and torn costume in the comics yet is just some guy with a mask in a business suit in BB.
    - Joker gets his signature look by falling into a chemical vat in the comics yet he paints it on in TDK.
    - Bane is a hulking figure in a luchadore mask with pipes full of venom protruding everywhere on his body with a South American accent yet he is a a bald-headed guy with a cage on his mouth and sounds like Sean Connery in TDKR.
    - And last but not least, Ra's al Ghul is a 700 year old fu manchu stereotype who uses a vast array of weapons and has clothing similar to The Mandarin yet he is a ninja in a business suit in BB. He even uses a fu manchu-like person as the public face of the League of Shadows. The only real difference between the two twists is that IM3 inserts comedy into it. The other difference is that Kingsley was promoted on promo material as The Mandarin. Do fanboys just hate to be wrong in their expectations of something? Or, do they just want to randomly hate on it because they want Man of Steel to be better?

  • Jacob | December 2, 2013 6:14 PMReply

    Three things
    1. The movie could have gone just as well better if AIM used M.O.D.O.K. as the cover-up instead of the "Mandarin"
    2. So using the long lost heir to Genghis Khan as an Iron Man villain is racist but not making a stupid doll of the girl from "the princess and the frog" is apparently just appealing to Disney's Asian market?
    3. When you say Johnny Storm is going to be black do you mean just Johnny and his SISTER Sue Storm is going to be white?
    4. (Guess I miscounted) If Mr. Black was so worried about offending the Chinese he could have had the mandarin sick Fin Fang Foom on Beijing killing hundreds if not thousands of people and cementing himself as an omnicidal maniac

  • Simone | April 15, 2014 9:46 AM

    1. I guess there was a more relevant point to be made by using the Mandarin, especially considering how in the movie he's basically totally-not-Bin Laden. I don't see anything wrong with a writer and director wanting to put messages relevant to the XXI century into a movie recreation of decades old comics. Still better than people like Michael Bay whose only addition to the Transformer-verse was "MOAR ASPLOSIONS AND MOAR BEWBS!".
    2. Disney is so big it's not like what someone in it does is necessarily in tune with what someone else in an entirely different branch of it does.
    3. Adoption is a thing. Multiracial families too.
    4. That's not how it works. Though I don't think we should necessarily obsess over stereotypical characters from the past since they do exist and honestly, as long as we take them with a pinch of salt, there's no need to try to erase their memory altogether, I can seen why the Mandarin would be considered racist. In this case the problem was avoided with a rather clever approach. Did it "ruin" the Mandarin for the movies? Yeah, maybe, but honestly, how many more Iron Man movies do you think there will be? What will spawn from the Avengers? And won't there ultimately be a reboot somewhere down the line, at this rate? So yeah, big loss. We got a shit ton of high budget superhero movies we couldn't even have dreamed of before Brian Singer made the first X-Men. Now we complain over every villain of a superhero who wouldn't even nearly be as popular as he is if it wasn't for Robert Downey Jr.?

  • Justin | November 15, 2013 2:45 PMReply

    First off all Shane Black was not staying accurately true to the Marvel Universe as he should be
    Second of all Killian looks absolutely nothing like the Mandarin in terms of powers, persona, character etc.
    Third the fact the movie had so many gnash plot holes and random things thrown in it didn't make sense in some cases. The dialogue and character development was premature and weak they did not explain a lot of details in the script which made the plot sloppy but fun and exciting to misguided movie goers who don't know anything about the origins of the Mandarin or Iron Man's arch nemesis.
    Fourth thing to many jokes made the movie cheesy and cartoonish at times not making it a good serious Marvel action movie until the final fight at the end. The fact Pepper Potts killed the so called main villian at the end away from Tony Stark. The End Credit scene with him and Bruce Banner was boring and uninterestingly shallow. Your facts are fair but your assessment and your facts are not fundamentaly accurate only base on theoretical terms.

  • Lurch1111 | October 30, 2013 11:24 AMReply

    So the Mandarin is a racist stereotype, but Killian -- a douchey white businessman -- isn't?

  • Sean | September 17, 2013 9:24 PMReply

    Defending the plot twist may have been a noble idea, were it not for the movie in it's entirety pulling random elements from across the history of Iron Man and lumping them together in the most inconvenient and unpleasant way possible. My issues with this film are many, but I will try to focus on the biggest ones.

    1st is thus; The trailers sell us a complete lie. We see the Mandarin, we see Stark being defeated. The Mandarin is essentially what Joker is to Batman, he is the arch-nemesis, the one foe truly capable of destroying our hero. The true Mandarin would have been perfect, even building on the post-Avengers trauma Stark is having (due to the mystical rings Mandarin uses actually being alien technology) We also glimpse the suit responding to a mere gesture, and Tony on the operating table. Comic fans in that instant had one thought; Extremis. In the Extremis arc a single enhanced guy defeats Iron Man entirely, the suit is simply not agile enough or responsive enough to stand a chance. And so Tony undergoes the Extremis process, and becomes a sort of techno-pathic mutant, able to interface with and control technology with a mere thought; most notably his suits. The other trailers just reinforce this idea, showing us multiple suits in action at the same time. But alas this movie completely butchers BOTH the Mandarin and Extremis into some ridiculous joke.

    Next issue; Aldrich Killian is a terrible excuse for a villain. Quite frankly he lacks motivation...what, he's pissed that Stark stood him up 12 years ago, so he becomes a terrorist, creates a super-soldier army, and goes for revenge? And his death has to be one of the most anti-climactic villain deaths ever, not to mention it being less than believable. He tears through several suits, survives a fair bit of punishment, survives a suit exploding with him inside..and what, a simple little missile does him in? Better yet, why DO those missiles explode when shot in the first place? Stark tech in this film is terrible, no missile should experience detonation if it is destroyed or shot, there are fail-safes to prevent exactly that. Otherwise a solid blow to Iron Man would set off any number of the explosives within...wouldn't that suck!

    3rd; War Machine conversion to Iron Patriot....just..no. I mean seriously these douchebag movie people admit it was done primarily for no other reason other than that they liked the way Iron Patriot looked like Captain America, and thought it made him more American...And honestly, even if we ignore that Rodey is still completely useless. A serious let-down after the big teamup smackdown in IM2. He gets captured, loses the suit, gets the suit BACK finally..and then runs off never to be seen again. WTF, couldn't he have just dropped the President somewhere and come back to help?

    4th, and finally; Sometimes less is more, here more is a lot less. We get to see a whole pile of suits, and if you check them out online most of them are actually really really cool. None of that matters though, since they are apparently made of recycled tin cans. Random nameless Extremis people tear them apart with little trouble, Killians punches smash right on through. In the Avengers, Tony goes head to head with Thor wearing his MK VI. He takes direct blows from Mjolnir, a huge blast of lightning, headbuts and piledrivers, basically a serious brawl. The suit takes a few dents and scratches, but nothing major. I'll admit Thor was likely holding back a lot, but regardless the armor stood against basically the single most powerful character in the entire MCU thusfar (Although Hulk can outmatch him, it never comes to that) and was still good to go after. Am I to believe that these Extremis people are what, more powerful even than Thor? The extreme heat is semi-plausible, but there is no way they could generate enough heat to slice a suit clean in half like it were nothing. The army of suits are nothing more than a stupid gimmick, their novelty wears off less than a minute after they are introduced, and we are left feeling very very unsatisfied...


    Here's hoping the rest of Phase 2 is good enough to help us forget this terrible terrible movie as though it were a bad dream.

  • Luke | August 19, 2013 6:04 PMReply

    IM3 has tons of Physics and plot mistakes, but the big twist is the main reason why it's still a good movie.

  • PC | July 19, 2013 2:46 AMReply

    The problem is that your premise is basically, "The Mandarin was initially a racial stereotype and so he will never be anything more than a racial stereotype." And frankly, Black isn't really an authority on the Mandarin. I doubt Black read any of the Mandarin's appearances beyond the very first one. And Marjorie Liu may be a comic book writer, but she has never written an Iron Man comic book, nor has she revealed to have any knowledge of Iron Man whatsoever.

    You even acknowledge that Marvel has had writers who successfully modernized the character. So how can you then say that it's impossible to do the Mandarin without endorsing cultural sensitivity? What was culturally insensitive about Kurt Busiek's Dragon of Heaven story? What was culturally insensitive about the Knauf's Haunted story? What was culturally insensitive about Fraction's The Future? If you say nothing, then right there, you've admitted that it IS possible to use the Mandarin without being culturally insensitive.

    Moreover, the problem here isn't "these stupid fanboys just want what is exactly on the printed page." I was all set to sit back and enjoy a Mandarin who was reimagined as a global terrorist who adopts iconography from different cultures.

    The problem here is none of the movies have given us a villain who is Stark's superior. Stane, Hammer, and Vanko were all piggybacking off Stark's work and none of them were more successful with it than he was. Especially given the problem with Stark suffering from PTSD as a result of being faced with the alien threat in Avengers, this is the perfect place to introduce the Mandarin—you don't even have to call him the Mandarin, he's used a number of aliases over the years which would work just fine. Make him a scientist who discovers alien technology (could even be Chitauri technology) and fashions it into a weapon for himself (doesn't have to be rings, the aforementioned Haunted story had the Mandarin fuse the rings to his spine). He throws Stark's world into chaos with the very thing Stark fears: the alien technology. That would play up the PTSD aspect that the movie completely forgets about halfway through and you'd also have a villain who could go up to Stark and say to him, "the thing you fear is what gives me strength. I am better than you—both physically and intellectually."

    That would have been a real struggle for Tony, not to mention a humbling experience and it would have been far more effective than "rich white guy who's not as smart as Tony tries to use Tony's ideas against him" yet AGAIN.

    But what I find highly offensive about this article is you are basically saying in a not-so-subtle way that if you don't like what Iron Man 3 did to the Mandarin, then you are a racist. And that is bull. As I said before, I was onboard with Kingsley playing the Mandarin as a global terrorist, and up until the big twist, I found him to be absolutely wonderful. The performance had the potential to rival Heath Ledger's Joker, but then Black decided to try to act clever with a reveal that basically consisted of him wiping his ass with the Iron Man mythos.

    When you sign on to make an adaptation, YOU MAKE AN ADAPTATION! You don't twist the material into something unrecognizable.

  • AwesomeDude | March 29, 2014 3:12 PM

    You should be made a writer for Marvel...

  • Jonesy | July 31, 2013 9:41 AM

    This is one of the best and purest comments I have seen regarding the issues with IM3, and certainly a fantastic counter-argument to this article. I believe you succinctly stated exactly what was in my head. "When you sign on to make and adaption, YOU MAKE AN ADAPTION!" Brilliantly said! I am sick of being made to feel terrible for being so utterly disappointed by IM3. Your synopsis of an appropriate plot would have handled the post-Avengers Tony Stark/Iron Man in a greater way. I got $20 on it, if and when you put together the Kickstarter to make THAT Iron Man movie. Thanks for the poignancy...

  • Facts | July 8, 2013 4:35 PMReply

    You know what’s really funny is comic book fans think their respected now because of a few successful movies. I can’t wait until these movies stop making money and comic book fan’s find out just how much “respect” they really get.

  • Jacob | December 19, 2013 9:20 PM

    Mr. Facts you'd be surprised how many people "nerd-out" when their at home, and it's not that they suddenly think they're worthy of respect it's that they don't feel the need to be closet any more I.e. If you think that people who like superheroes and sci fi and high fantasy are basement dwelling freaks who live with their mothers then you are probably a very lonely person who people would only hang out with for a pay check (being whores and politicians)

  • Richard | September 29, 2013 10:28 PM

    "But what I find highly offensive about this article is you are basically saying in a not-so-subtle way that if you don't like what Iron Man 3 did to the Mandarin, then you are a racist. And that is bull"

    Well spoken.I feel as though this article was written to say that we're wrong for exactly what you stated,but then too many people would bitch about movie makers including characters that had nothing but a 'white american' background.So then let me ask the original author of this article.....when are we RIGHT for including other cultures into these movie's in order to diversify the characters and writing in the films?

  • El JEFE | June 14, 2013 8:45 PMReply

    WAIT HOLD UP!!!! .... Are we forgetting something!! Oh Ya... I remember!!... Iron Man 3 twist!! I just have a kouple things to say about it.... 1) The Mandarin:WHY SHANE WHY SHANE would you think fans would like to see a Mandarin Joke!! Are you kiding me... why in the trailers would you make all those HINTS!!.. are you kinding me!!!... I was hoping for the best movie in the world!! to happen... not the worst movie!!.. How is Marvel happy about this!!! WOW! 2)Iron Man armor!! So your telling me... Iron Man is not Iron Man anymore!! Are you kiding me at the end of the movie you said "I am Iron Man"... NO YOUR NOT!! Your Tony Stark... thats it... You blew up all your suits(all 42 suits)so your RETIRED Iron man....in the comics does he do that!!... How are they making an Avengers 2 with Iron Man now.....Is he gonna build 42 suits all over again... and were supposed to believe that... Hmmmm.... It was a total let down!!... I WAS LIKE NOOOO!!!!!! when I saw it.........And yes I am an Iron Man komic book FAN(a let down FAN)(feel free to reply back)
    ~EL JEFE

  • AwesomeDude | March 29, 2014 3:15 PM

    But he's Tony Stark... He could build all 42 suits again

  • Rotcod | June 10, 2013 5:06 PMReply

    Oh, and why complain that much about The Mandarin and Guy Pierce and say nothing about Robert Downey Jr.? I never see ANY complaints about inconsistencies with him and the comics.

  • as140 | June 15, 2013 10:52 AM

    Well I was kinds disappointed with Iron Man 1 because of that reason. But the plot twist was way worse.

  • Rotcod | June 10, 2013 2:01 PMReply

    I read mostly Marvel comics as a kid and a lot of Iron Man. I enjoyed the movie. Ben Kingsley was freaking HILARIOUS. I AM going to criticize the comic book purists. I didn't go to the movies to watch an Iron Man COMIC. I went to see an Iron Man MOVIE. They're DIFFERENT, people. Get over it and get used to it.

  • as140 | June 15, 2013 10:53 AM

    Nobody would have a problem with him being different. But most people hate him being no villain at all.

  • WTF? | June 8, 2013 6:26 AMReply

    I have no idea why people try to either attack, or defend the revelation itself, and ignore the most retarded motivation there is in films in general. I am unpleasantly surprised by the fact that nobody notices that a person who experiments on people in secret, and even goes far as to create a covert, albeit non-existent, and untraceable terrorist organization, cannot build a single strong room that can essentially contain any exposition. Even if we try to justify funding, which from the looks of it, having attack helicopters and missiles clearly contradicts that, a simple plot of land in the desert will be more than sufficient for his purposes. This doesn't affect his plan to kidnap the president either- he could have done that just as easily and claim that it was his terrorist organization.

    In all honesty, the movie did start strong, and I like the Mandarin more than I like Tony Stark, and this plot twist mistake that can be overlooked due to the strong aspects of the film. But argue for the portrayal of the Mandarain and to ignore this assault on logic is ignoring the elephant of the room.

  • as140 | June 15, 2013 10:55 AM

    Nope, the villain always makes the superhero movie. In both Batman (1989) and Dark Knight the Joker was the most interesting person. Superman would be nothing without Lex Luthor. And IronMan needs Mandarin.

  • Brian Black | June 6, 2013 10:14 AMReply

    He is a badass. That is a compliment to the Chinese, a good villain is as entertaining as a good hero. The idea that it is racist is just insulting, insinuating that if there is a villain that isn't foreign than their is no racism. That isn't avoiding stereotypes, that is censorship by authority, and yes, social pressure is one of the most powerful forms of authority. This argument is completely wrong and is just what I expect from elitists on high who have never experienced true social disdain. Take it from someone with autism, discrimination breaks the spirit, but patronizing someone murders their soul, killing who they are and through conditioning giving birth to an honorless bottomfeeder. I would rather be denied respect than my right to my honor.
    On top of that ridiculous argument by the director, this movie, like the amazing spiderman, attempts so hard at stylish humor that it ends up becoming an early gradeschool comedy. Superheroes are supposed to be paragons an yet be human, not up for sale and conformist to the point that a want of comfort robs them of their will to fight for good. I don't want to see convictions destroyed, and then watch them give up everything. I gave up my suit, you know, because appealing to the weak excuse makers I protect is more important than my service to society, knowing that there is shit like giant alien armies waiting to destroy the earth. Guess its someone else's responsibility now! Remember that kids, cowering and nonaction are more virtuous traits than taking full personal responsibility. I had to watch a character "slain by his own charity" (as shakespeare would say), and it was forced on him, it wasn't even his own charity but an irrational and selfish expectation others put on him. This is the same reason I hate rachel dawes character in the dark knight rises. She is so dependent on going through a power structure that she has become accustomed to, one that has obviously failed, that the idea of Wayne stepping up to take power for himself and face the evil that is now vested in that power destroys the false idea of power she thinks she has from following society's structure, and though it actually manifests as disdain, and falling for the icon of that system, that like that system, is weak and falls to corruption in Dent, in reality the idea of someone taking power and personal responsibility for the situation scares the crap out of her. Villains don't rely on established power structure and when they do, they manipulate its weakness, in comics and in real life. Potts does the exact same thing in this movie behind a shallow, sexist veil of girl power, as if constantly allowing yourself to be victimized gives you the right to a power up.

    Rant over, main point, I don't just dislike this movie, and I don't just dislike for the fact that they butchered Stark and The Mandarin. It's more of the fact that I completely f****** disagree with the philosophy behind it.

  • Chris | June 5, 2013 3:21 AMReply

    I still don't know why people try to defend that obviously horrible decision to use that kind of twist on the most iconic villain in Iron Man history. Sure twists are good, but only if they are done where they work. It flat out did not work here. And to the author of this article, read this link which outlines a far better version of Iron Man 3 and tell me that you don't think this idea is far superior to the crap called Iron Man 3 that so many of us were duped, yes duped into seeing.
    geeksofdoom.com/2013/05/15/iron-man-3-what-should-have-happened?utm_source=zergnet.com&utm_medium=referral&utm_campaign=zergnet_61033

  • jack | June 2, 2013 4:28 PMReply

    The bottom line is this. I never was a reader of comics except GI JOE, but even I was ticked off at how the Mandarin was portrayed. I admit the twist wouldve worked great, had it been thrown into a different movie but when you take one of Iron Mans most powerful villains, everyone, including comic book readers were really looking forward to a showdown between these two, given who the Mandarin was and what he could do.

  • Alex | June 2, 2013 12:43 PMReply

    It sort of bothers me that so many people rage about differences between the comic books and the movies, in a genre where there are already alternate universes in the original material. It was a good movie in its own right: why not accept that it's an alternate reality?

    Since there were huge spoilers in the article itself, was anyone else thrilled to recognize Killian as having been present in the Extremis arc in the comics, but in a VERY different role? :)

  • Dan | May 28, 2013 1:08 PMReply

    Tony maybe spent 10-15 minutes in a suit, it should have just been called Tony Stark Goes To Tennessee (I live in Tennessee and it was so stereotyped as well). Anyhow, Black and the IM3 team built their promotion of the movie up in trailers on the fake premise of Sir Ben being a badass, world domination-seeking Mandarin, just like in the way the movie itself built their terroristic plot on this fake British stoner playboy actor. You can't sit there and tell me that you didn't look forward to seeing Sir Ben being a badass, instead we get Killian *yawn.*. But I digress, this was a crappy movie despite what happened with the Mandarin, no matter how much you try to church it up in your article, too many plotholes and too many inconsistencies.

  • J. Morales | May 28, 2013 8:34 AMReply

    I'm a big IM fan and the Mandarin reveal didn't bug me at all. It worked within the spirit of the films. I really wasn't thinking about cultural insensitivity. It was just a fun moment, a definite surprise (and I knew something was wrong with the Mandarin from reviews, just not what). Like I said, it really worked with how the films were going, which was always a bit different then the comic books.

    What bothered me more was that Iron Patriot was a total chump and that Tony destroyed all his armors at the end. I know why he had to do it, but it was still pretty lame.

  • BOBO | May 28, 2013 2:12 AMReply

    I think there's one more twist that nobody's cought.Maybe the Mandarin played by Ben Kingsly IS theREAL Mandaran,..and his "druggy actor role" was just a ploy to actually use Aldrich and his technology..Hollywood writers aren't that dumb,he was wearing the Ten Rings,maybe that was a small hint?..The Mandaran in the comics was very clever and besides his rings,thought technology an ultimate tool,hence using Aldrich.I think there are still s few supprises in store for. the next Iron Man movie.If those hollywood writers are SMART that's what i expect in the next Iron Man...

  • Elliot | June 6, 2013 3:27 PM

    that would be a great plot for iron man 4 or avengers 2

  • JACK | June 2, 2013 4:22 PM

    That actually would be a great twist but shouldve been used in this movie., not to reveal it in the next one. It wouldve been so much more dramatic to reveal it in this way in IM3.

  • Eric S. | May 28, 2013 1:00 AMReply

    I agree with this article completely. Comics are a great source to explore for new material on the big screen. However, I think it's essential for screenwriters to manipulate the material into a work of their own in order to captivate an audience with both comic fans and non-comic fans. In my opinion, as long as they stay true to the hero, in this case Iron Man, then there is really no harm done. Especially since the epic conclusion to this movie franchise doesn't revolve around Iron Man but The Avengers.

  • Architecture and design books online | May 24, 2013 4:55 AMReply

    I like blog. But I like your review so much. Thanks for sharing. I will keep update the same.

  • Justin | November 15, 2013 3:12 PM

    ERIC S. You are being delusional if you think this movie captivated comic fans because let me tell you I have read an article about him having a meeting with a lot of these comic fans who were livid of the mandarin twist and the movie itself. The director had to sit down and talk to even non-comic book fans shamefully and embarrassingly and some non-comic fans about why he did what he did with a Marvel Superhero movie. name one Marvel or DC Movie director past and present had to do that!!!

  • Samuel | May 22, 2013 9:44 PMReply

    Naw, he could've been the Mandarin given different motivation and new powers. I like the twist and everything about Iron Man 3. I'm cool with changes in comic book movies (sometimes: John Blake could've just been Dick Grayson (he was a cop, and doesnt necessarily have to of been Robin but had a relationship with Bruce when he was a kid) rumor about Jenny Olsen instead of Jimmy, why? Add cat grant if u want more of a female cast)

    after the Avengers how about Mandarin launches attacks on the U.S. embassy as a warning about his super soldiers invading his country. I always thought his rings were mystical and allows for him to create Fing Fang Foom. Iron Patriot gets hurt, Tony gets pissed goes after him and it takes Iron Man out of comfort zone facing magic when he's use to technology and his stranded in this strange country. Maybe tony creates extremis to cure his body ( which would've been better for the second film but whatever)

    I just felt Iron man 3 traded Tony's A-list villain for a D-list villain Killin who was basically the Melter. But again I did like the movie just think Mandarin deserved more respect it just seem to me they were to scared to have an villain like Mandarin who lacks realism despite Thor, and Avengers existing in that universe

  • peter02 | May 22, 2013 10:37 AMReply

    Whats so ingenious about building the film up with the superb acting of Sir Ben only to pull the rag off 3/4 into the film as being a faked villain. Thus progress the story line? or premature ejaculation. I guess those who say they loved such films which compromises great storytelling for lazy theatrics. Must have great taste in films (probably Dragonball Z fans, generic fans who enjoy mindless generic movies). No matter how ignorant such opinions are, one unarguable truth is that this movie "iron man three" is one fake villain for one hell of a fake movie". Because tell me how disappointed would you be if the "Dark Knight" movie ended by the joker saying I'm not the real villain im just a clown who got kicked out of cirque de so-lei. The real mastermind is Sal Maroni. Wouldn't that be an insult to viewers and fans, you tell me.

  • Phil | May 22, 2013 1:11 AMReply

    This article is nice and all, but it's missing a few things. For starters, many people watched this movie JUST to see Iron Man finally face his arch-nemesis in some climactic battle. Rings or no rings, whatever, that was already established with the trailers. The ones that went to see the movie have already settled with the reinterpretation of the Mandarin. I, for one, like this new one better than the comic version. So you have to understand their disappointment when they realized that there was no Mandarin in Iron Man 3. Well, there was, but there wasn't. There was, but there wasn't. It's complicated. Second, why did they even include the Mandarin? If what you say is true, regular moviegoers couldn't care less if he wasn't in this movie, and hardcore fans who would go regardless wouldn't have to experience one of the most disappointing plot twists in movie history. It's win-win! And finally, and this is what irks me the most, is that with Iron Man 3, we will never get to see the real Mandarin. Well, maybe 20 years later with a reboot, but come on guys.

  • Bob Bodel | May 21, 2013 5:00 PMReply

    My problem with Iron Man 3 is how cool The Mandarin would have been had he been like in the comics, with ten alien powered rings and all that. Imagine how cool seeing Tony's many suits face off against a Mandarin with ten rings of power! Or even just one Iron Man versus Mandarin! That would have been awesome! I do understand that they wanted the movie to be more realistic and down to earth, but how come we can have a friggin' alien invasion in the Avengers with space portals, flying dragon/snake things, and half of New York getting demolished, but we can't even have a guy with ten alien rings! Pathetic Marvel!

  • Dan | May 21, 2013 3:06 PMReply

    First of all, I will say good article above!! Let's just say I am iffy on my opinions now... yesterday I was MAD after watching Iron Man 3... today, especially after reading this article, not as much. But, I will say this... I was not a big Iron Man fan as a kid, so when I heard about the Mandarin being the villain and that he was Iron Man's Arch Enemy, I looked him up and researched him, and was actually looking forward to seeing this Larger than Life Villain! Now we get an actor who "looks" like the Mandarin, and not even close to what was portrayed in the comics... If you want to make a "twist", why make him somewhat looking like the comic book version of the Mandarin then? If you really wanted this "twist", you could have at least made this Mandarin character ANYONE and not someone who looks like the comic-book version... this is just to make a "twist" for twist's sake and more misleading comic book fans more than anything... And the fight at the end was just too much! More of a popcorn-type movie action scene than anything else... Tony Stark jumping off cranes, sliding on ridges of bridges... gimme a break!! Makes Iron Man 1 look like an Oscar-type movie...

  • Von | May 21, 2013 12:04 AMReply

    I didn't really care the manderine was Pearce. I think that it could of been pulled off if they had some continuity in the plot. So Pearce was the manderine. My problem is they made iron man a pussy. What's up with turning the suit into a joke? Why ? My god. What a pile of crap. It didn't show him as fallible it showed him as an idiot. My other suits could stand up to anything but all the future ones fall apart. I think I'll make some more out of cardboard just call me cardboard man

  • Godzilla | May 20, 2013 7:08 PMReply

    Excellent review and I agree 100%. Nice work! Thanks for writing!

  • Joe | May 20, 2013 4:02 PMReply

    The movie ain't bad but it ain't that good either. You have one of the greatest villains in the history of Iron Man and you use it only as an excuse to bring a "twist" that takes away the edge out of the characters... thats crapy. But I think that the thing that bothers me the most is that the past movies were building momentum one after the other, so this movie, after The Avengers, should have been epic, and it had all the elements to do so: The Mandarin, the Extremis virus, the many suits that opened the posibilities to so many plots... and at the end, it´s just a funny movie with a lot of product placement that only takes you out of the story, and a children friendly story to sell toys... I really tried to like it, really. To be fair, it entertained me, but I was loving the whole franchise and this movie sent a message: we care about the fans as long as it gives us money. If we sell you crap and you keep buying it, what´s the point on making something good. Money, money, money, give us your money. so, it´s great that DC is comming with Superman and building their franchise, cause Marvel sure needs the rivalry.

  • jy45 | May 20, 2013 12:16 PMReply

    you are obviously not a purist when it comes to what made the characters and stories popular in the comic books in the first place. i get that. things need to be "hollywoodified" when brought to the screen but when it involves a "major player" in the iron man universe revealed as a farce and then turns guy pearce and pepper potts into exploding, fire breathing people it becomes unnecessary and a slap in the face to all the great creators and writers from the comic books that made iron man the character he is today.

    and on the johnny storm note, i completely disagree with changing the race of the character. yes it worked for nick fury and spiderman to an extent (i am not a fan of the latino spiderman however i have not read many issues either), but that would require addressing sue storm which to me involves changing more than one thing just for the sake of changing it to make a certain demographic or actor fit. i thought chris evans was the best cast member of fantastic four and still am not completely convinced he was the best choice for cap but at this point, the guy i would want that has the chops to bring the arrogance and bravado that johnny storm needs is chris evans as evidenced by his ability to show cockiness and confidence with ease in his "star trek" and "unstoppable" roles.

  • Logic | May 20, 2013 4:58 AMReply

    So you think people are lying if they say they figured the twist out? Perhaps that would be true if everyone had not already seen the twist in Batman Begins or had the characters not basically implied he was an actor beforehand.

    The twist however is not my main complaint. The movie IS in fact bad. There's a fire breathing Guy Pearce, kung fu super soldier Pepper Potts, kid sidekick, hokey Air Force One skydive formation scene, and Tony "MacGyver" Stark taking out a compound of armed henchmen with Christmas ornaments. Shane Black truly jumped shark with this franchise and that's saying a lot after IM2.

  • Kaity | May 20, 2013 12:24 AMReply

    I agree with every single word typed here. As a fellow comic book reader and fan, I hate those obsessive people who can't accept variety. I enjoy seeing how directors and producers will change things up! I love a plot twist that I didn't already read and see coming back when I was a child "memorizing" Wolverine's origin story. People need to learn to let go and stop being so uptight.

  • Alice | May 19, 2013 2:58 AMReply

    I did see it coming that he wasn't going to be the real Mandarin, or at least I had hoped it. After they revealed that he was an actor I thought to myself, "Okay this makes sense. In a few scenes they'll reveal that that Dr. Wu guy is the real Mandarin and he'll be the one to use his power rings to fight Ironman in the awesome final battle."

    But they didn't do that. Instead they made the horrible decision to make Aldrich Killian the main villain. I don't care that they threw on some tattoos on him last minute. He just didn't make a satisfying replacement for the Mandarin. The Mandarin had been built up since the first movie. Having him go out like that was just a huge "F**k you" to all the fans that made the movies so successful.

    If they had just left the Mandarin out completely then this would have been a pretty good movie but instead the director decided to take a giant s**t on the franchise.

  • Anti Critic | May 18, 2013 5:02 PMReply

    Seriously I am getting sick and tired of people proclaiming how great Iron Man 3 is. It was pathetic and blasphemous to all true fans to say the least. I say true fans because I do not count MCU fans as true blue Iron Man fans. I am talking about the ones who bought the comics for the last 50 years and made the Character of Iron Man popular to begin with. If the Mandarin was such a politically incorrect character to portray accurately they why the hell didn't they choose another villain to use instead instead of screwing up a great one? If you can't do it right leave it in the comics and don't put it on the big screen. I believe that the comic fans who are so irritated with this movie should ban together and make a movie about Shane Blacks life but we should, instead of making him a rich white guy, you know because that is not PC now a days, we should make him a Chinese Transvestite hooker with a trained monkey named Bonkers. They could play with old men's genitals and solve crimes for Cheetoes. And the twist would be that Bonkers wasn't really a monkey, but really Drew Pearce. I know what your thinking, it would be a great movie! I am just sick of people coming along now a days that are more interested in Explosions and gadgets but have no idea or dedication to the source material they are supposed to use. I'm not a stickler to absolute details from comics but it is the same thing as if they made a Batman movie where the Penguin actually turn out to be the Joker too. Seriously people have some pride about yourselves and admit they screwed the pooch here.

  • Jerred Zoll | January 12, 2014 12:05 PM

    No I won't. It's their opinion, and there is absolutely nothing you can do about it. Of course, what are your thoughts on Film Master Adam & Confused Matthew's reviews of this movie? Let's just say, almost everything they say about the Iron Man Trilogy, I agree on. Here's the links for if you haven't seen them.

    http://geekvision.tv/2013/05/iron-man-3-2013-movie-review/

    http://confusedmatthew.com/iron-man-3.html

    http://blip.tv/confused-matthew/iron-man-3-does-the-mandarin-matter-6695233

  • Respect | May 18, 2013 2:11 AMReply

    I am not a comic fan. I only know about the character Mandarin from wiki. But still, it is kind of stupid to portrait Mandarin as fake. If you want to change something in the movie to fit in a 2-hour long story, that is fine. You can do away all those things that make Mandarin stereotype, like racist, like some funny 60s make-up that add insult to the Chinese (like the one that Bruce Lee watch in cinema and walk away from it in the film Dragon: The Bruce Lee Story). That is fine.

    But what they should not have done was to use Mandarin as a fake. A FAKE, for god sake. The Guy Pearce's character Killian is entirely not Mandarin at all. Fake Mandarin add insult to the intelligence of the audience, especially the comic fans. It wasted a good actor like Ben Kingsley too. And I wonder why they didn't use someone like Chow Yun Fatt as real Mandarin.

    The story would have been more fun with a real Mandarin. A supervillian like you have never seen on big screen before. They didn't do a real one probably due to lack of understanding of Chinese, everything Chinese. If they did a real Mandarin without all those insulting stereotypes, what else would it leave? Perhaps they think A Chinese supervillian can hardly fit into the modern world, so they use a white CEO guy instead. A white CEO guy - cater to American audience, kids and teenagers alike. Most audience can accept that "stereotype". And if they portrait a Chinese supervillian wrongly and offensively to the Chinese audience due to their lack of understanding of Chinese, and give a wrong impression to Western people about Chinese, they might end up losing a large Asian Market for this film. Asian largely consist of Chinese. So they played "safe" by using a fake one.

    At the end of the day, it was just lazy screenwriting. They did away all things Chinese due to being clueless about how to portrait Chinese character right. So a fake one is used.

    This fake thing reminds me of M. Night Shyamalan film The Village 2004. Feel cheated at the end. At least The Village did it with good reason. This fake Mandarin just feels like a smartass like Shane Black trying to make a fool out of everyone, and still has the audacity to defend the fake use.

  • Dan Napoli | May 18, 2013 12:44 AMReply

    Shane Black is a douche, and so is anybody critical of
    comic fans being upset about the Mandarin; here's why.

    Black wants to make his big statement/plot twist/art wanking?
    Rad. Call your character Terrorist X. Have Kingsley play him.
    Hilarious.

    But Black-& Marvel & Krvin Feige, are specifically using
    The Mandarin to get hype/fan boys excited about the flick
    & thinking "OMG-The Mandarin finally-whoo-hoo."

    That's exploitive & extremely disrespectful to the source material

  • JOSE | May 20, 2013 4:15 PM

    You hit the jackpot with your comment. That´s it. And as for Shane Black as a crappy director: Is it me or after the love of his life was supposed to die, Stark keeps cracking "smart" jokes at his nemesis not appearing shaken at all by the death of his loved one.

  • Alice | May 19, 2013 3:03 AM

    Yeah it was kinda "art-wanking" Every time they tried to get serious I would just role my eyes. The whole PTSD thing was just annoying.

  • Ranbir | May 16, 2013 5:38 PMReply

    I don't care he wasn't Fu Manchu, but to have Sir Ben Kingsley play a fraud, a mouth piece was just a darn shame. He had me believing he was -the- nemesis for Tony Stark, the ultimate challenge. Turns out it is a guy on some special magic serum instead.

    Yes the whole idea of fear in media, but that was done with the Mandarin videos, the show-boating. That didn't mean the Mandarin himself had to be just a character.

    They could have done a twist without undermining the lore's ultimate villain. Sir Ben Kingsley already did a wonderful job avoiding Fu-Manchu-ness, that was the ONLY issue possible to come from Mandarin.

  • Ben | May 15, 2013 7:35 PMReply

    The issue isn't that the character is changed. It is that the character is changed in such a way as to completely remove what made them interesting and beloved by comic book fans. Nolan's Joker is radically different from the comics, but still in keeping with the essential truth of what the Joker is, as defined by the comics. Imagine if the twist of the Dark Knight was that the Joker never existed, and was just an actor hired by Eric Roberts' mob boss character? I would not have minded the Mandarin as Bin Laden thing, or even the lack of power rings, but to turn a character's greatest villain, his Moriarty, into a joke that's too clever by half, and then replace him with the same "evil industrialist" bad guy we've had in all three movies, is an insult to the fans. You don't have to be a comic book fan to enjoy this movie, and its fine if you aren't one, and if you do like it, but saying that this twist is valid is what delineates an actual fan from one who isn't, and since we're the ones who have actually invested our time and money into the comics without which there would be no movies, our opinion is frankly more valid than yours.

  • Eustace | May 17, 2013 10:36 PM

    Actually the Joker was not that different from the comics. There have been several comic lines with a Joker line in TDK. But you point is 1000% correct they mutilated the Mandarin. Before the reveal I was so intrigued with the Mandarin and how Tony was going to defeat him. After the reveal I was not curious at all. Ironman is one of my favorite characters and has some good villains but to repeat with the "evil industrialist" bad guy was a tragic flaw for me. I wanted to love the movie, I wanted to tell people how good it was but I just could not do it.

  • Joey | May 15, 2013 7:05 PMReply

    Are you joking right now, you stated that it was a refreshing surprise, and that if you wanted to see the same thing from the comics you'd go read them(paraphrasing what you said of course)... BUT, if writers were so good they would create such a mind blowing and different story from the comics(closely related, of course) that you would feel like the hole movie is a refreshing surprise from the comics.. Also, how can you say that's ok, I mean this wasn't supposed to be a family comedy(which It totally felt like) and that twist was for a fact intended for humor, and that's what I felt this hole movie was, Just one big joke, and you know I would have been ok with the mandarin character if it was at least the only jokey part of the movie, but through out this entire movie there were mostly humor, humor, and more humor..I went to the theaters to so an action movie NOT comedy.. You know, I'm also starting to think these critics are starting to get a foggy head on things, how can you rate a movie as bashing to action movies every were so good, and no don't tell me it's a refreshing to see a different type of action movie! Because, you can still make a great action movie funny, just look at the punisher(the original)..rant over. Haha

  • peter h | May 15, 2013 2:04 PMReply

    When i discovered the madarin was a fake, a joke. It made the film a joke. It seems the writers weren't being original or trying something different. But being lazy, i have watched a variety of types of movies, what makes a great film is not the effects, or the action but the story. That is what novelist who write great stories allows the readers to create a marvelous world in their minds. However Iron Man 3 is not such story translated into the big screen but an insult to both fans. It is not racist to cast a Asian as a bad guy, when you virtually have a bunch of them recently cast as invading the white house in recent film. You white people even watch asian movies, who do you think the chinese cast their bad guys, white dudes?? Don't tell me because they cast chinese as bad guys their being racist to their own kind. And the ridiculous reasoning the magic rings cannot fit into the iron man world is an idiot, the whole point of Avengers is not to separate but to tell these idiots that all these superheroes no matter how different come from the same world. And you are to tell otherwise those who have created the iron man mythos, its creators, shane black is spitting at the creativity and hard work of these creators, but making taking the world they created and turning into a parody of a joke. Just like the movies twist a fake mandarin.

  • DIS GUY | May 15, 2013 2:24 AMReply

    AH ok shane black thinks the mandarin was racist for asians. So instead they made the character a middle eastern terrorist, now that aint racist or stereotypical at all.

  • Otterboy1127 | May 14, 2013 10:55 PMReply

    Everyone commenting on the "risk" of "offending the fan base", to this I say the following: For years I've listened to my convention friends bemoan the fact that Hollywood ignores them, witnessed geeks and nerds of the comic book variety suffer on the outskirts of culture in moldy low lit bookstores. I've watched the painful slow progression from bedrooms and basements, to the halls of mainstream culture. Bully for you. Everyone loves the products. Whether it's Star Trek rebooted, Batman rebooted, or Marvel, it's been an amazing ride. But here's the rub, you are no longer the "fan base". Mainstream audiences have paid, are paying, and are enjoying what is being given to them. Their numbers far exceed all the conventions combined. Their tastes are more widely understood, and as a result, are giving money to the vehicles that will continue to produce movies on the grand scale that sci-fi'ers and fantasy lovers could only dream about 30 years ago. Your opinion matters, but keep in mind the very things you cling to are what made these franchises non-starters. The new life breathed into these is what is going to fund all your future pets into reality. Kinda like a friend of mine said about rock bands: "They sold out" really means "they got popular,......these franchises are popular.....deal with it.

  • Jerred Zoll | January 12, 2014 12:13 PM

    Well said. Such a shame that these fanboys unfairly compare this film to the comic books instead of judging it on it's own merits. I too thought the Mandarin twist worked well with the story it was telling for reasons Film Master Adam & Confused Matthew pointed out. Some world we live in.

  • Frank | May 14, 2013 5:34 PMReply

    I'm not a long-time fan of Iron Man, nor have any loyalty to the Mandarin character, but what the filmmaker did was turn in a good villain, to get back a rather poor alternative in exchange. That right there is a mistake, and the movie definitely suffered due to the weakness of the antagonist. The whole concern over well aged (and well gone) racial stereotype shows a naivety on the part of anyone particularly worried about it.

    But the movie is a total popcorn flick, it's got a big star, it's got big action scenes, it's really dumb, and it's really loud. It's good at being enjoyable to watch when you watch it. Definitely not going to be remembered as particularly worthwhile though.

  • Kloga | May 14, 2013 12:51 PMReply

    Again sorry for the mistakes on the post - this time it's filled with repeating over and over the same words such as "character". I can imagine how awful is to read such a thing... :(

  • Kloga | May 14, 2013 12:48 PMReply

    Don't want to offend someone with the comment but... Each of us finds something very own in a favorite character, and what made Mandarin one of my favorites through villains in comics is essentially in the film, it's just that. They even have Killian look similar to Mandarin through different comic book eras, which I really appreciate.
    It may be just me, but I like such things as merging characters and changing them to the point of being un-recognizable safe from the few details. It often suddenly reveals for us that essence of the character is something else then basically his costume and even his powers - one of the main features in Iron Man 3, by the way. I even like Taggart cameo. Because using his ordinary armor will be just that - another man in the armor. Here he IS firepower literally. Savin is not adressed to as Coldblood, but he's really essentially one of the most cold-blooded killers in the entire MCU. That's also why Whiplash worked for me in the second movie. I like Scarlotti and others nicknamesakes but merging him with a few Crymson Dynamos brought new interesting dimension to all of them. Believe it or not, Whiplash suddenly emerged in the list of my favorite comic book villains because of the movie. Instead of passing of the fanbase, actually, it brings Marvel (and some of the specific characters) new fans.
    It's actually quite selfish for the fans to be against the alternative vision of the character, because many people can actually love it as what it is - an interesting alternative that brings a few more reasons to love the original character. It was the main point of the article, we're commenting on...

  • ladymidath | May 14, 2013 10:16 AMReply

    I have grown up reading comic books so I know the character pretty well. I was disappointed to see how they portrayed the Mandarin in Iron Man 3 simply because I had always liked the character. I can understand the Marvel (and Disney) not wanting to 0ffend anyone but these characters were written at a time when the world was not politically correct. I am sure there could have been a way to stay true to the original Mandarin without being insulting all it would have taken is some imaginative writing.
    I still enjoyed the film though, but Marvel have to understand that if they keep screwing around with their characters, all they are going to do is achieve is pissing off their fan base.

  • rain | May 14, 2013 5:27 AMReply

    seriously .... you cannot see ... the big mistake on iron man 3.
    Its not the mandarin ...if mandarin can came again as real mandarin on sequel, maybe....
    but adrian killich is little character on iron man book ( not bigger enemies)
    and you read comic... but do you read iron man comic book ? look how many super villain became mehhh .. like cold blood, fire power, savant
    its okay became twist ... but no respect to combine all super villain iron man became like same power on terminator slash universal soldier .... (thats the disappointed) ...
    why not use new name ...

  • Kloga | May 13, 2013 8:58 PMReply

    Sorry for some type-o's.

  • jy45 | May 20, 2013 12:25 PM

    disagree, you're reading too much into the movies. rich and powerful people wear extravagant rings, not only in movies but in real life. there is no way they meant for ten characters over three movies to be the mandarin's "rings" only to have the mandarin be a fake character.

  • Kloga | May 13, 2013 8:56 PMReply

    Well. I'm from Ukraine and I just recently back from the cinema, where I watched the movie. I have my own small local website about comics which some people consider good despite deisgn which sucks. It's just a background for you to know.
    The real thing I really want to submit is a small theory. I REALLY like how Mandarin ended in the movie and original Mandarin is still one of my favorite characters. First of all it's mostly that I like creative re-imaging which IS The Mandarin in 'Iron Man 3'. But then, let me explain. What first drew my attention to Mandarin, when comics were really hard thing to get in Ukraine was a second season of the cartoon series. I really loved the sub-plot about Mandarin collecting his rings back. But what made him one of my favorites id the fact that even without his rings he can actually beat Iron Man while the letter is in the costume and well armed. The image of bare-chested Mandarin without his rings from some Iron Man Handbook (Iron Manual, if my memory serves me well) just stuck in my head as a pure symbol of power. His rings are awesomw, but he, himself is the real threat and they're just the powerful instrument to make a threatening figure just purely awesome.
    It's just a backstory still. Here's the theory:
    Mandarin's organisation, from the very first movie is still named The Ten Rings. You can also spot atrange rings on the fingers of powerful persons. That give me te point. His rings are not the actual rings, but people whom he can use with ease, but who actually are very powerful to say the least.
    1. Stark. Even before directly opposing Stark, Mandarin uses his weapons for illegal operations.
    2. Stane. The same point, but also serves as a stand-alone figure.
    3. Raza. Powerful terrorist, who's controlling certain areas for Mandarin.
    4. Rhodes. A friend of Stark who can turn of him, if Stark crosses the line.
    5 and 6. Anton and Ivan Vanko - you can't spot any of them wearing actual rings, but real Russian convicts have a tradition to tatoo the rings with certain symbols, representing their status, their power, their biography. Tatooing a ring without the reason just gives someone a problems to the point of death note. These are the rings worn by Vanko family - they're carved on their skin.
    7. Hammer - Hammer Industries is a Plan B for Mandarin if Stark Industries will be regained by Stark.
    8. Trevor Slattery - obviously.
    9 and 10. I'm not sure about these but they may be Killian himself (or, rather, his charming new persona) and Savin who's arguably the second best Extremis experiment after The Mandarin himself. I just don't remember were they're wearing any sort of rings.
    Anyway, through the three films, one-by-one The Mandarin is stripped of his rings. Starks regains his conscience (and abandons wearing the ring!), Raza is crushed by Stane, who's cornered by Stark. Rhodes regains his friendship and partnerdhip with Stark, Vanko father and son die, Hammer is in jail and then Slattery is exposed to Stark, Savin is killed and Killian himself is stripped of his nice guy business image in seconds. He ends upe being bare-chested and fighting Iron Man. That's it.

  • NP3 | May 13, 2013 5:21 PMReply

    The way i feel is I dont think it was necessarily the fact that they changed The Mandarin completely, but the fact that they made Killian "The Mandarin" and then made his motives completely ridiculous and made no sense. I mean first he wants to kill Stark, then needs him to live..wait what? that aspect as well as other things he did to me just threw it off watching the movie.

    It was an awesome film and the action was terrific as well as the tactics Stark used (like throwing his suit onto Pepper to protect her and etc.) But Killians character just was hard to grasp for me.

    And i welcome changes like that to be honest. I too find it interesting on the things they come up with. Casting an African-American actor as Torch REALLY intrigues me.

  • Shayde | May 13, 2013 12:06 PMReply

    Well they used the same logos that they've been using since the first Iron Man (the 10 rings terrorists) so I really would love to know how that ties together.

  • Some Guy | May 12, 2013 10:20 PMReply

    Forgive my typos.

  • Some Guy | May 12, 2013 10:17 PMReply

    I agree the Mandarin's comic book image is a little distasteful but I don't think that's the real reason they did that to the Mandarin in the film. No, I think the simply were not creative enough onutilize the Mandarin properly into the film. He's simply too powerful. Not even Micheal Bay would be able to handle all the potential destruction The Mandarin could produce. The writers simply didn't have it in them. To use racial sensitivity as an excuse is simply...easy.

  • perryrants | May 12, 2013 4:20 PMReply

    "it doesn't fit into their expectations" and me, being so great and so much smarter than you, cause i just know more stuff, will tell you what is great (all my stuff is great). so, stop with " it's not like in the comics, or like the book". when i make changes they are for the good.

  • Nicole Anne | May 12, 2013 2:40 AMReply

    Iron man 3 was my favorite movie had ROBERT DOWNEY JR casts
    I actually want it to watch again live in cinemas in 3D, i am big fan of him ever
    When the action in the movie that a little met tony then he said he needs watch etc.
    The little boy gave a Dora and i was laughing hard when tony said in the twitter TONY THE EXPLORER IAM LIMITED EDITION TOO HAHAHAHA
    ONE I WANT TO SAY PLEASE VISIT OUR COUNTRY PHILIPPINES!! LOVE BY YOUR FANS!!

  • Nicole Anne | May 12, 2013 2:40 AMReply

    Iron man 3 was my favorite movie had ROBERT DOWNEY JR casts
    I actually want it to watch again live in cinemas in 3D, i am big fan of him ever
    When the action in the movie that a little met tony then he said he needs watch etc.
    The little boy gave a Dora and i was laughing hard when tony said in the twitter TONY THE EXPLORER IAM LIMITED EDITION TOO HAHAHAHA
    ONE I WANT TO SAY PLEASE VISIT OUR COUNTRY PHILIPPINES!! LOVE BY YOUR FANS!!

  • Joe | December 9, 2013 5:39 PM

    You're a dumba$$

  • Paul Acevedo | May 11, 2013 10:57 AMReply

    It's not so much that I minded Kingsley's character in the movie or the twist itself. But why make that guy the mandarin? He's not the Mandarin as anyone knows him, so you could just as easily call him something else and disappoint nobody. Matt Singer's editorial is fine but it doesn't even consider this possibility.
    Taking an imposing and important character that some people actually like (he hasn't been a Fu manchu type in a long time) and turning him into a joke and non-threat, it IS disrespectful to readers.

  • luminaire180 | May 10, 2013 9:40 AMReply

    I'm not happy with what they did to Mandarin either, infact I had even compromised and accepted the decision to not use magic in hopes that Mandarin would be an epic terrorist at the least.

    Regardless, hopefully I can atleast clear up on of the armies you guys seem to be having with the movie. I know one point touched in the article was the fact that Tony used a crappy prototype armor most of the movie or went sans armor a good portion. I think this was really a cool idea because it gave us a chance to see that Tony is still a bad ass at his lowest and stripped of his toys.

    Also I know everyone thought his armor army showing up at the end made that idea redundant, but there is a scene in the movie where he talks to Jarvis and they discuss the fact that the crane has arrived and they are clearing the cellar. When the armors are summoned you see the cranes and all the rubble that has been cleared.

  • Ryan | May 10, 2013 8:32 AMReply

    I didn't hate it because the Mandarin wasn't the comic book Mandarin. I hated it because I thought the twist was BAD. The reveal was a gimicky, silly bathroom joke. What happened to the dark, evil, villianous Mandarin that was played up in ALL of the trailers? He was reduced to a simple lowbrow poop joke.

  • David | May 11, 2013 5:11 PM

    i agree with you...the trailers were almost like misleading advertising because they even put dialogues by the mandarin that in the movie never happened.

    It was a big disappointment when it got to the point in the movie where you realize the mandain is not real...for the moment it was ok because it was funny and all..but once you really start to think about it, the way they tried to say that killian "was the real mandarin" and leaving "plot holes" (in my opinion) like if the terrorist organization was actually real or not...and if it was, why would killian create a terrorist organization and try to kidnap stark in the first movie (because in the first movie, the same organization kidnapped stark only to build a strong weapon...but it had nothing to do with killians plans)

    so...i think, how they did it in the movie, it was ok...but when it comes to the 3 movies and how the relate it to it (or how they didnt relate it) it sucks...

  • Jeff Shanley | May 9, 2013 8:58 PMReply

    Very good article, I honestly didn't think of it that way. There were aspects of IM3 that I liked, but as a whole I found the film personally very underwhelming. I do think there could have been a way to hone the spirit of the Mandarin character from the comics without resorting to, as you put it, the "Fu Manchu" stereotype. The simple fact that we don't know his real name would be enough reason to simply refer to him as "the Mandarin" for the sake of convenience, and the power rings could have been tied into Thanos/Avengers 2, and his conflict with Stark could have been simply deeply personal, retconning Yinsen from IM1 to have an association with the Mandarin and maybe having the Mandarin revealed to be responsible for Howard Stark's death, but these are just my thoughts on how Iron Man comic fans could have been appeased AND the stereotype conundrum could have been avoided.

    That being said, I really enjoyed Ben Kingsley's performance. He was fucking BRILLIANT as "Trevor."

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