This week see’s the debut of one of the big comic book films this year: Iron Man 3. Steph has been running through the Iron Man films in the lead up to this release during Superhero season on Steph On Screen, but she has yet to look at the big event itself. I think it’s time we took a look at one of the most pivotal parts of Iron Man 3 in a bit more detail, it’s villain, the Mandarin!
Played by Ben Kingsley, the Mandarin is Iron Man’s arch nemesis in the comic universe. Like Joker to Batman or Green Goblin to Spider-Man, Mandarin has always been around to push Tony Stark to his limits. He is a Chinese orphan who has been trained in martial arts and science from a very young age. One of the worlds greatest Martial Arts masters, he is powerful enough to punch through Iron Man’s armour in the comics, though it’s so far undisclosed as to whether he possesses this almost superhuman strength in the film. He also owns 10 rings that he discovered on a crashed Makulan ship. With his remarkable scientific mind he was able to learn how to utilise and control these rings, giving him a number of different powers. It is also yet to be seen how these rings are going to come into Iron Man 3. From all the trailers released of the film thus far, it looks as though the Mandarin is being written more around his strategic mind, using the weapons and people at his disposal, as opposed to his other powers, but that’s something we’ll find out from watching the film at the end of this week. Throughout his representation in the comic universe, The Mandarin has made many attempts at world domination, although consistently defeated by Iron Man this hasn’t stopped him from trying, and you can be sure that his appearance in Iron Man 3 is going to be in a similar vein.
So that’s the Mandarin in a nutshell, but we all know that the films don’t always follow the comics identically so here’s some speculation about the Mandarins role in the Marvel film universe, based on what we’ve seen and what we know! (spoilers for other Marvel films below)
We know that Tony is struggling with sleep in the 3rd Iron Man, and we know that this is because of what he saw when he went through the gate into space at the end of the Avengers. We also know that Marvel’s phase 2 is going to involve the cosmic elements of the Marvel universe, with Thanos making an appearance and a Guardians of the Galaxy film in the works. This means that you can expect Tony to be a bit scared when he discovers that Mandarins rings are a cosmic entity. I wouldn’t be surprised if the writers of the film make it so that the Mandarin finds his rings on a wrecked ship from the invasion during the Avengers. Either way you can be sure that Marvel are going to be dropping cosmic hints wherever they can in this film to set up the second Avengers film. We also know that the Mandarin is in control of the 10 rings, the terrorist group from the first Iron Man film which means that revenge against Stark is probably number 1 on the Mandarin’s agenda.
I personally am excited to see what direction they take Iron Man 3 in, the Mandarin is the most prolific Iron Man villain and, if done right in this film, could potentially become a Marvel film universe heavy hitter in the way that Loki did in phase 1. We’ll just have to wait and see!