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Shane Black explains why The Mandarin is not Chinese in Iron Man 3

Mar. 7, 2013by: Alex Maidy

Maybe many of you were like me in wondering how The Mandarin could be portrayed by Ben Kingsley when the character was clearly Chinese in the classic comics. Granted, the same could be said about Ra's Al Ghul in BATMAN BEGINS being portrayed by Liam Neeson, but the plot successfully explained that away. I assumed Shane Black would have a good explanation for The Mandarin being Indian (Trivia: Ben Kingsley's birth name is Krishna Banji).

In a recent interview with MTV, director Shane Black explained why they went with a unique origin for the villain in IRON MAN 3:

"[Mandarin] has an intelligence background. His nationality is not even clear because he's shrouded in secrecy, but at some point, this field officer went nuts and became a student of warfare and ancient Chinese symbology and drew from South American insurgency tactics and has created around himself this little world of warfare," Black said. "The only unifying principal of which seems to be a hatred of the United States, so he represents every terrorist, in a way. But specifically, he's crafted himself in the manner of the Mandarin, of a warlord."

Actually, that sounds more badass than I anticipated. Bravo. But, that still does not fully explain why he looks like a wannabee Lo-Pan. Why such a drastic shift from the comics to the big screen?

"I think that's great, because you get to do the comic book, but you don't have to deal with the specifics of Fu Manchu stereotyping," Black said. "We're not saying he's Chinese. We're saying that he in fact draws a cloak around him of Chinese symbols and dragons because it represents his obsession with Sun Tzu and various ancient arts of warfare that he has studied."

To be fair, if I could get an actor of Sir Ben Kingsley's caliber, I would rewrite any character to fit his needs. I was extremely disappointed with IRON MAN 2 but I have very high hopes for IRON MAN 3. Everything looks like it is coming together, and to quote The Mandarin, I don't think we will see this movie coming.

IRON MAN 3 opens everywhere on May 3, 2013.

Source: MTV

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12:34AM on 03/08/2013

blahblahblah

Long story short: we want this movie to make shitloads of cash in china too so we better not piss of our largest audience.

we get it!!
Long story short: we want this movie to make shitloads of cash in china too so we better not piss of our largest audience.

we get it!!
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8:02PM on 03/07/2013

It's Ben Kingsley

"if I could get an actor of Sir Ben Kingsley's caliber, I would rewrite any character to fit his needs." That's pretty much my feelings right there.
"if I could get an actor of Sir Ben Kingsley's caliber, I would rewrite any character to fit his needs." That's pretty much my feelings right there.
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7:40PM on 03/07/2013
I think Ben Kingsley is a great choice for the character, and at the same time they have to be careful not to step on many toes. Like it or not, China is playing an increasingly larger role in Hollywood, and there's just the pragmatics of it all. That said, it doesn't sound like Shane Black is making any sort of compromise, and we've probably seen way more liberties taken with comic characters in films before. I think this really will be awesome, and that Kingsley's Mandarin could well blow the
I think Ben Kingsley is a great choice for the character, and at the same time they have to be careful not to step on many toes. Like it or not, China is playing an increasingly larger role in Hollywood, and there's just the pragmatics of it all. That said, it doesn't sound like Shane Black is making any sort of compromise, and we've probably seen way more liberties taken with comic characters in films before. I think this really will be awesome, and that Kingsley's Mandarin could well blow the Iron Monger and Whiplash out of the water.
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+14
7:34PM on 03/07/2013
I guess I'm the only one who liked Iron Man 2. Everyone seems to consider it a disappointment. I'll admit it wasn't as good as the first Iron Man (the best Phase 1 movie), but on repeat viewings I find myself really enjoying Iron Man 2 as a fun superhero movie. RDJ, Paltrow, Rockwell, and Cheadle are all great in it. It's not without flaws, but I still really like it.
I guess I'm the only one who liked Iron Man 2. Everyone seems to consider it a disappointment. I'll admit it wasn't as good as the first Iron Man (the best Phase 1 movie), but on repeat viewings I find myself really enjoying Iron Man 2 as a fun superhero movie. RDJ, Paltrow, Rockwell, and Cheadle are all great in it. It's not without flaws, but I still really like it.
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9:40PM on 03/07/2013
Agreed, man. It seemed like there was no middle ground for people. It was either "Good or better as IM1" or "shit". The movie was still great fun.
Agreed, man. It seemed like there was no middle ground for people. It was either "Good or better as IM1" or "shit". The movie was still great fun.
10:07PM on 03/07/2013
Iron Man 2 wasn't terrible, it was the ending that was terrible.
Iron Man 2 wasn't terrible, it was the ending that was terrible.
10:39PM on 03/07/2013
Even if the ending was terrible, The Avengers sure made up for it.
Even if the ending was terrible, The Avengers sure made up for it.
6:30PM on 03/07/2013
I don't mind if he's not Chinese. As long as the character is portrayed correctly and has a lot of depth.

I don't mind if he's not Chinese. As long as the character is portrayed correctly and has a lot of depth.

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+0
5:58PM on 03/07/2013
Honestly, if they do the character right, I don't think it will matter to anyone but die hard fans. A good character is a good character, and The Mandarin is a great character, whether Chinese of not. I like what I've seen so far and the last trailer is epic. My main question is whether or not they will actually bring in the more supernatural elements of The Madarin or not. Yes, we've seen the rings on his hands in the trailers, but it still doesn't seem like they give him power. The movies
Honestly, if they do the character right, I don't think it will matter to anyone but die hard fans. A good character is a good character, and The Mandarin is a great character, whether Chinese of not. I like what I've seen so far and the last trailer is epic. My main question is whether or not they will actually bring in the more supernatural elements of The Madarin or not. Yes, we've seen the rings on his hands in the trailers, but it still doesn't seem like they give him power. The movies have slowly been introducing more fantastic and supernatural elements into their movies, so I think it would be perfectly okay with audiences if The Mandarin had his power rings.
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-8
4:53PM on 03/07/2013
ya ok sounds good
ya ok sounds good
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4:51PM on 03/07/2013
Homeland did it best, the United States government killed an 'innocent' 4 year old child by drone strike of a suspected Terrorist. Which made him vow vengeance against the United States. I hope the Mandarin has a pain staking, emotional and traumatizing reason for hating the United States. Other than it's popular to hate a world power.
Homeland did it best, the United States government killed an 'innocent' 4 year old child by drone strike of a suspected Terrorist. Which made him vow vengeance against the United States. I hope the Mandarin has a pain staking, emotional and traumatizing reason for hating the United States. Other than it's popular to hate a world power.
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+6
4:43PM on 03/07/2013
Seeing as Mr. Kingsley looks like he's gonna kick all types of ass i'll let the fact that's he not a Chinese mandarin be accepteble.
Seeing as Mr. Kingsley looks like he's gonna kick all types of ass i'll let the fact that's he not a Chinese mandarin be accepteble.
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4:23PM on 03/07/2013

No problem with that at all

But if you really were trying to quote the Mandarin there, it would've gone more like this:
"Youuuuuu willll neverrrrrrrrrrrrr seeeeeeee meeeee cominggggggggggg"
But if you really were trying to quote the Mandarin there, it would've gone more like this:
"Youuuuuu willll neverrrrrrrrrrrrr seeeeeeee meeeee cominggggggggggg"
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4:21PM on 03/07/2013

Who cares?

Kingpin was originally white in the comics, but they got Michael Clarke Duncan to play him in Daredevil. The same goes for Nick Fury, but Samuel L. Jackson played him.
Kingpin was originally white in the comics, but they got Michael Clarke Duncan to play him in Daredevil. The same goes for Nick Fury, but Samuel L. Jackson played him.
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4:34PM on 03/07/2013
Sam Jackson is playing the Ultimate version of Nick Fury, who was directly based on Mr. Jackson himself.
Sam Jackson is playing the Ultimate version of Nick Fury, who was directly based on Mr. Jackson himself.
4:35PM on 03/07/2013
Not only is Nick Fury black in the comics, but they modeled him off of Sam Jackson long before he was ever cast in the role.
Not only is Nick Fury black in the comics, but they modeled him off of Sam Jackson long before he was ever cast in the role.
4:52PM on 03/07/2013
Daredevil? They made a Daredevil movie? ;)
Daredevil? They made a Daredevil movie? ;)
10:08AM on 03/08/2013
They asked permission to use Samuel Jackson's image in the comics.
They asked permission to use Samuel Jackson's image in the comics.
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