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Defending ‘Iron Man 3”s Big Plot Twist

Defending 'Iron Man 3''s Big Plot Twist

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.

This Article is related to: News



What IM3 did was flat out lazy. No way around that.

"They are not upset with the movie because it's bad… they're upset because it's good" I stopped reading after that line. It took me months to strengthen my eyes to read the rest of this.

This author is completely delusional, because he doesn't even realize that it wasn't Mandarin that made the movie bad. The movie was just bad. Lots of directors change up movies, and nail it, if you are gonna make a movie that bends the audience over and eff's them, you better make it good.

It wasn't a refreshing change, it was dumb, lazy, and required zero imagination to come up with. Millions of dollars made on what is simply a "Ahh, tricked you! You though we actually put thought into this movie didn't you?" IM3 used the name of a villain to fill seats, and then up sold them on something awefull.

If the movie was good, it wouldn't have mattered if they made Mandarin a talking mouse, the movie would have been good. Point blank, end of story.

I will not watch the next Iron Man because of this, yea, they don't care, they will still make millions. It may not mean anything to them, but at least I will have my say, all $13 worth of it.


marvel revealing the REAL mandarine slaps hard on author's face


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

Duder NME

"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…


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?


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


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.


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


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… 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.


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


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.


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.


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)


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.


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.


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.

Brian Black

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.


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.


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.


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? :)


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

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.


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…

Eric S.

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.

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


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


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.


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

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!


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…


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


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


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.


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.


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.


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.


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

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.


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

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.

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


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.


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.


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

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.


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.


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… with it.


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.


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… :(


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…


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.


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 …


Sorry for some type-o's.


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.


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.


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

Forgive my typos.

Some Guy

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.


"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

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

Nicole Anne

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

Paul Acevedo

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.


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.


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.

Jeff Shanley

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."


I defend it because the Mandarin's powers, to my understanding, were based on magic. The marvel universe in the films has built a sense of realism. Thor is the closest they get to magic, and they even make a point to explain it by framing it as science that we don't understand. THE Mandarin would be an even further step in that direction which would just make us begin to feel like these movies couldn't happen in real life, while they've built a world that, when we're lost in the movie, seems almost possible.


Tlin this movie they never mentioned that he was part of the ten rings terrorist organization, he never took credit for capturing Tony in the first one, which I believe means that the real Mandarin is out there still being the mastermind behind everything, maybe the Mandarin agreed to have a double to be captured and then he comes up in future films as the real mandarin and no one takes him seriously due to the drunk one in this movie so when tony goes to capture him again yhat s when the real one comes and uses his rings powers..just thinking


I would be more annoyed about the secret iron man army he had in reserve the whole time and didn't use while fighting for his life against extremis powered super soldiers for most of the film

R. Singh

Whilst I do appreciate the need for some lee way in interpreting characters from one medium to another. I also feel that a good writer should not deminish the source but add new detail or a fresh perspective by being faithful to the spirit if not the letter of the lore. I feel that the Mandarin should have been shown "Fu Manchu" style as the comic book fans expected but the twist would be that like in the movie this was a front for the real Mandarin. Who because of his mixed heritage looked like westerner eg Brandon Lee son of Bruce Lee. This would have turned the racial stereotype on its head and worked in the movie.

Then combining history and comic lore this is my take on how the character could have been depicted. His origins would lie with the chinese imperial bloodline and be descended from Genghis Kahn. His family lost their status in the early part of the 20th century and their fortune under the Japanese occupation in the 1930s-40s. His father met his mother an English noblewoman captured and interred in a camp during WWII. After the Japanese defeat, the couple were married but they again fell on hard times when the communists took over China. The future Mandarin was born in the mid-to-late 1950s. Though a genius in intellect and martial arts he was an outcast in chinese society because of his mixed parentage and western appearance. When he was a student during the cultural revolution his parents were denounced by his father's sister who was bitter at the family's decline and hated her sister-in-law and nephew. Whilst his parents were arrested he managed to escape.

Now for comic fans his flight could have taken him to the lost valley of the spirits where he found the Makluan spaceship and the ten rings before escaping to the west. However for a more Christopher Nolanesque approach he could have fled to the west and using his intellect established himself in the USA as Mark Lohan (Makluan) CEO of a Mark Lohan Technologies in Spirit Valley. Here he developed (or mastered) the ten rings. Using other aliases and companies – Tim Odgen (Temujin) and G.N. Carne (Gene Kahn) he controlled interests in oil and finance respectively.

He secretly supported the democracy movement in China including the protest in Tianamen Square hoping to unite China and the west as they were united in him. But the chinese cracked down on the protesters forcing them to flee the country. He had arranged an extraction but the Democracy activists were killed by a US strike thinking them to be hostiles. The weapons were supplied by a vain egotist American arms maufacturer – Tony Stark.

Realising that protest and diplomacy were useless the exiled young man decided that he had to unite east and west as the first Chinese emperor had done with the diverse kingdoms – domination! It was then that he adopted the title Mandarin and established the terrorist organisation "The Ten Rings" with their oriental leader. Now in the 21st Century with China on the cusp of global economic dominance the Mandarin would establish himself as its new Empreror. Bringing down the communist Party and his enemies in the west – namely Tony Stark.


What about staying true to the Killian story-line from the comics!? I mean, he killed himself in the first panels in Extremis, and we get a load of crap that he is some amazing scientist hell bent on taking over the world! I mean, for Pete's sake, stick to the material!

Eric D

I actually knew after the opening scene that the Mandarin or villain for the movie wasn't Ben Kingsley character due to having already figured out the true story was the extremis virus story arc just from the previews and once I saw the first scene in the elevator I knew that Guy Pearce's Aldrich Killian was the actual bad guy. Now is this because the writer/direct telegraphed it I wouldn't necessarily go that far as I would say it is more than likely that I have just seen way too many movies and as such I can flesh out the story of many movies from just a few scenes. This goes back to why I like movies with a great story.


I don't think the film was bad. I greatly enjoyed it. But I too am saddened by the wasted use of The Mandarin. Firstly, Killian isn't The Mandarin and doesn't even come close. Secondly, now that the Marvel film universe has delved into the idea of aliens, gods, and other supernatural elements, why shouldn't we get the rings of power? What I feel is most wasted is a good villain and nemesis for Iron Man. Why would you introduce Iron Man's greatest villain, only to turn him into a drunk actor of a plot twist? And let me express, again, that Killian is nowhere near the villain Mandarin is. Now, I realize that Iron Man probably doesn't have very many solo films left. Maybe one or two more. But it still seems like a massive waste of a huge villain to simply have him be what he was here. As far as racism goes, how hard is it to change his look a little? Make him Chinese, but give him something of a physical makeover. I think people would accept something like that more than they would accept as radical a change that happened here.

Carlos R.

How did Trevor think this was gonna play out? It didn't seem as if he were a hostage, and since it wasn't some make-up job, did he think he was just going to go on to his next acting gig when this wrapped?! Stoners make stupid decisions… but this was ridiculous. Lazy writing!

And if Killian ended up wanted to hire/use Tony Stark's mind, WHY send a missile to his house to kill him? Why would the Mandarin want to piss off one of the only two superheroes (Iron Patriot being the other one) that was actually, actively trying to find him? Tony didn't say he was trying to find The Mandarin… he invited the Mandarin to come after him. Is Tony Stark the ONLY person that threatened the Mandarin in front of the media? Great action piece but LAZY WRITING!

And if the botanist worked for Killian why was she so low key about the missile going towards the house? Wasn't she aware that Killian was trying to kill Tony (even though he kept him alive later to hire him?) Do you really take the chance of death by missile just to keep the cover of NOT being one of the bad guys? LAZY! WRITING!!

And how does the little kid recognize IronMan, but not Tony Stark? LAZY…waitforit… WRITING!!!

This movie was, at best, only SLIGHTLY better than IM2. Disappointing

Ignacio Balbuena

Well, The Mandarin could be racist, but nevermind that the villain from Iron Man 2 is a russian scientists, and in the first one, we have arab terrorists. So racist stereotypes are all over the place in USA movies. The plot twist was clever though, and maybe it was a little bit wtf-ish, but fits really well into the plot. Killian's lack of real motivation is other issue.


As I read the comments below and hear what people are saying, I don't understand how people can say that this movie was at all bad. If you take away the fact that it is "based" off a comic book is it really that bad? I mean honestly! I could name several Marvel films that are worse than this movie, even then IM3 doesn't deserve to be named along with them. Yes, I understand that The Mandarin was NOTHING like the comic character, but for that reason is it a HORRIBLE movie? Is that the reason that this will be the worst movie of the year? If you think so then you shouldn't be watching movies at all. And as I say to people that like to complain how different the movies are compared to books/comics/history, "It's Hollywood!" If they can't get American History correct do you honestly think that they will follow a comic to a "T"? No. The people that like to complain about this stuff should probably read some more articles. I recently read that Kevin Feige is treating the movies as if it was a different Marvel Universe. The reason why you always see MCU (Marvel Cinematic Universe). No one seems to have a problem with Nick Fury being black when he originally was white. (I enjoy Samuel L. Jackson as that character I am just using it as an example). End point: As much as I would have enjoyed seeing The Mandarin as The Mandarin and as much as I would have loved to see them stick to the Extermis story arc more, it didn't happen. Do I hate the movie for it? No. Why? Because overall it is still a great movie. This is not the worst movie ever or this year by a long shot. Do you honestly think that this movie belongs in the same category as "The Last Airbender"?


Although I see the author's viewpoint, I couldn't help but feel like he misses the point entirely. In IM3 they gave Tony Stark anxiety attacks concerning his confrontation with aliens. Wouldn't it have been so much more of a poignant story arc to keep the Mandarin as in the comics, since he has mastered and uses alien technology including the rings found in the alien spaceship? I think it would have solidified the entire "anxiety" angle by having Tony overcome some of it by getting a hold of a piece of the alien technology and overcoming his fear by seeing aliens as no different then us to some degree, especially since they too engineer and create weapons. He could then use his own skills to create a hybrid gadget to add to his IM suit and use it against Mandarin. Story arc created, utilized and made to fit the villain much closer then Guy Pierce's. They could have even kept Guy Pierce as Mandarin's lieutenant and all the others as henchmen. That makes more sense to me then all the other crap put into the movie. On a side note: I am one of the fans that would rather my characters remain true to the comics as much as possible and yes that includes the race of the character. If the reboot to FF really is leaning toward redoing the race of characters then I can't help but feel "cheated". Mainly because we have already been given a visual representation of these characters for all these years. If there is no real reason to change it then why do it? Are you changing the race so it seems refreshing? It wouldn't seem that way to most fans. I think that for most of us it would just feel like we are being bullied into accepting it because if we disagree then we must be racist or some such nonsense. How about as I stated? We just want our superheros to remain as they were in the comics, but brought to life! I wouldn't want Luke Cage, Black Panther, Blade, Bishop, Night Thrasher, Storm, etc. to be Caucasian, Asian, or any other race other than African-American (or African as in Black Panther) because they weren't any of those races in the comics.


I didn't want "THE Mandarin", but I did want "A Mandarin". I wanted to see them turn the character from how he was in the comics into something respectable and awesome in the movie. I had faith they could do it. But we didn't get that. All they needed was a 10-second scene of a guy with rings somewhere lurking, or even Kingsley suddenly with a ring inexplicably for half-a-beat if they wanted to go that way. Just something to show that the Mandarin's final lesson (which he never gave) was that everyone is a fool, and that the Mandarin exists in the movie universe even if he's never used again.

As is, having Killian be the Mandarin just left me disappointed, as did a few other aspects of the ending sequences. So it goes.


Wait… So Sue and Johnny will just be half brother and sister then??? Or they'll cast Sue as African American tooo? That's a twist that doesn't make a whole lot of sense. Those characters are supposed to be related.


Wait, so are you saying that villains can't have an origin from another culture otherwise it is culturally insensitive? RIDICULOUS!


This movie is an effing awful mess. The most terrible movie of the year so far, which is saying a lot. Movies are a DEAD business. BIONIC _BARRY is an idiot, and this movie is REALLY, REALLY EFFING BAD!!!!!!!!


You're focusing too much on people being upset about his look and if he's asian. The thing that upset everyone is that he wasn't just different, but he wasn't the Mandarin at all! The thing that makes the Mandarin are his power rings and his will to dominiate the world. What they did in this movie was build up or a year about this character and how awesomely bad he was goign to be, and make it look like this movie really revolves round him, and then they suddenly turn around and say "Hey, we're just joking. He's really just an english sissy white guy with an accent." They did it in an very terrible effort to induce even more unnecessary comdey into this movie. They ruined what could have been a really cool and very entertaining villian.


It's funny everyone's mentioning Ra's al Ghul and the Joker because the Mandarin is much like them in many ways.

The Joker:

What Nolan did with the Joker was that he took this killer clown character and made it to a force of nature, a man with no past, the living embodiment of chaos. He wasn't scary because of the pencil trick he was scary because he had no goals, no needs or desires. As Alfred said he couldn't be bullied or negotated with. Shane Black took a step further and created a character who can be everywhere, who can terrorize the whole US through video messages. Much like the Joker he is the living embodiment of terror who is not powerful because he wields 10 rings but because he is a force of nature and can be everywhere.

Ra's al Ghul:

In Nolans interpretaion Ra's is inmortal in the way that any of he's followers can be Ra's al Ghul (as anyone can be Batman). He's a metaphorical figure he's not powerful because of his martial art skills but because he and his league can burn down whole cities without mercy and because the League of Shadows is everywhere in the world much like the Mandarin.


It's funny everyone's mentioning Ra's al Ghul and the Joker because the Mandarin is much like them in many ways.

The Joker:

What Nolan did with the Joker was that he took this killer clown character and made it to a force of nature, a man with no past, the living embodiment of chaos. He wasn't scary because of the pencil trick he was scary because he had no goals, no needs or desires. As Alfred said he couldn't be bullied or negotated with. Shane Black took a step further and created a character who can be everywhere, who can terrorize the whole US through video messages. Much like the Joker he is the living embodiment of terror who is not powerful because he wields 10 rings but because he is a force of nature and can be everywhere.

Ra's al Ghul:

In Nolans interpretaion Ra's is inmortal in the way that any of he's followers can be Ra's al Ghul (as anyone can be Batman). He's a metaphorical figure he's not powerful because of his martial art skills but because he and his league can burn down whole cities without mercy and because the League of Shadows is everywhere in the world much like the Mandarin.


It's funny everyone's mentioning Ra's al Ghul and the Joker because the Mandarin is much like them in many ways.

The Joker:

What Nolan did with the Joker was that he took this killer clown character and made it to a force of nature, a man with no past, the living embodiment of chaos. He wasn't scary because of the pencil trick he was scary because he had no goals, no needs or desires. As Alfred said he couldn't be bullied or negotated with. Shane Black took a step further and created a character who can be everywhere, who can terrorize the whole US through video messages. Much like the Joker he is the living embodiment of terror who is not powerful because he wields 10 rings but because he is a force of nature and can be everywhere.

Ra's al Ghul:

In Nolans interpretaion Ra's is inmortal in the way that any of he's followers can be Ra's al Ghul (as anyone can be Batman). He's a metaphorical figure he's not powerful because of his martial art skills but because he and his league can burn down whole cities without mercy and because the League of Shadows is everywhere in the world much like the Mandarin.


It's funny everyone's mentioning Ra's al Ghul and the Joker because the Mandarin is much like them in many ways.

The Joker:

What Nolan did with the Joker was that he took this killer clown character and made it to a force of nature, a man with no past, the living embodiment of chaos. He wasn't scary because of the pencil trick he was scary because he had no goals, no needs or desires. As Alfred said he couldn't be bullied or negotated with. Shane Black took a step further and created a character who can be everywhere, who can terrorize the whole US through video messages. Much like the Joker he is the living embodiment of terror who is not powerful because he wields 10 rings but because he is a force of nature and can be everywhere.

Ra's al Ghul:

In Nolans interpretaion Ra's is inmortal in the way that any of he's followers can be Ra's al Ghul (as anyone can be Batman). He's a metaphorical figure he's not powerful because of his martial art skills but because he and his league can burn down whole cities without mercy and because the League of Shadows is everywhere in the world much like the Mandarin.


It's funny everyone's mentioning Ra's al Ghul and the Joker because the Mandarin is much like them in many ways.

The Joker:

What Nolan did with the Joker was that he took this killer clown character and made it to a force of nature, a man with no past, the living embodiment of chaos. He wasn't scary because of the pencil trick he was scary because he had no goals, no needs or desires. As Alfred said he couldn't be bullied or negotated with. Shane Black took a step further and created a character who can be everywhere, who can terrorize the whole US through video messages. Much like the Joker he is the living embodiment of terror who is not powerful because he wields 10 rings but because he is a force of nature and can be everywhere.

Ra's al Ghul:

In Nolans interpretaion Ra's is inmortal in the way that any of he's followers can be Ra's al Ghul (as anyone can be Batman). He's a metaphorical figure he's not powerful because of his martial art skills but because he and his league can burn down whole cities without mercy and because the League of Shadows is everywhere in the world much like the Mandarin.


It's funny everyone's mentioning Ra's al Ghul and the Joker because the Mandarin is much like them in many ways.

The Joker:

What Nolan did with the Joker was that he took this killer clown character and made it to a force of nature, a man with no past, the living embodiment of chaos. He wasn't scary because of the pencil trick he was scary because he had no goals, no needs or desires. As Alfred said he couldn't be bullied or negotated with. Shane Black took a step further and created a character who can be everywhere, who can terrorize the whole US through video messages. Much like the Joker he is the living embodiment of terror who is not powerful because he wields 10 rings but because he is a force of nature and can be everywhere.

Ra's al Ghul:

In Nolans interpretaion Ra's is inmortal in the way that any of he's followers can be Ra's al Ghul (as anyone can be Batman). He's a metaphorical figure he's not powerful because of his martial art skills but because he and his league can burn down whole cities without mercy and because the League of Shadows is everywhere in the world much like the Mandarin.


It's funny everyone's mentioning Ra's al Ghul and the Joker because the Mandarin is much like them in many ways.

The Joker:

What Nolan did with the Joker was that he took this killer clown character and made it to a force of nature, a man with no past, the living embodiment of chaos. He wasn't scary because of the pencil trick he was scary because he had no goals, no needs or desires. As Alfred said he couldn't be bullied or negotated with. Shane Black took a step further and created a character who can be everywhere, who can terrorize the whole US through video messages. Much like the Joker he is the living embodiment of terror who is not powerful because he wields 10 rings but because he is a force of nature and can be everywhere.

Ra's al Ghul:

In Nolans interpretaion Ra's is inmortal in the way that any of he's followers can be Ra's al Ghul (as anyone can be Batman). He's a metaphorical figure he's not powerful because of his martial art skills but because he and his league can burn down whole cities without mercy and because the League of Shadows is everywhere in the world much like the Mandarin.


It's funny everyone's mentioning Ra's al Ghul and the Joker because the Mandarin is much like them in many ways.

The Joker:

What Nolan did with the Joker was that he took this killer clown character and made it to a force of nature, a man with no past, the living embodiment of chaos. He wasn't scary because of the pencil trick he was scary because he had no goals, no needs or desires. As Alfred said he couldn't be bullied or negotated with. Shane Black took a step further and created a character who can be everywhere, who can terrorize the whole US through video messages. Much like the Joker he is the living embodiment of terror who is not powerful because he wields 10 rings but because he is a force of nature and can be everywhere.

Ra's al Ghul:

In Nolans interpretaion Ra's is inmortal in the way that any of he's followers can be Ra's al Ghul (as anyone can be Batman). He's a metaphorical figure he's not powerful because of his martial art skills but because he and his league can burn down whole cities without mercy and because the League of Shadows is everywhere in the world much like the Mandarin.


How could the original Mandarin be racist??!! He had 10 awesomely powerful rings, martial arts skills, mystic powers, his own criminal empire… he was all-POWERFUL!!!! NOT RACIST!!!! If anything, this movie was hating against the original comic story and original characters and is antiAmerican!!!! 8(


I agree with most of the stuff you said. People should want to and deserve to be surprised. The Ra's al Ghul twist was perfect in Batman Begins. It was equally shocking for hardcore and comic book fans alike. But that plot twist didn't actually change the character of Ra's al Ghul. He was still intelligent, merciless, and athletic. He still wanted to destroy corruption so that Gotham could be reborn. He proved that there are still more surprises for the comic book readers. And it was done without altering the core elements of the character. But, the Iron Man 3 twist just completely changed the character to the point where you can't even call him the Mandarin.
Comic book fans (unlike myself) are willing to accept change. They seemed to be fine with the fact that the Mandarin wasn't Asian. And they were fine with his lack of "power" rings. The only thing that angered them was the change from ruthless villain to drug addicted actor. This change went beyond one's interpretation to create an entirely new character, while simultaneously tainting the old one. There are just certain core elements of a character that are core elements for a reason: they can't be changed.


I really desire this to be some kind of game that writers are playing with us. I mean, what if THIS Mandarin was nothing more than a REAL chinese imitation. Aldrich Killian said that he understood on the roof of the hotel in 1999 that it's much more convinient to stay out of the vision and control everything behind the scenes. On the plain he told President that he serves someone who much more powerful than anyone else. So…. maybe this big twist will be nothing more than a great trick and the real Mandarin is playing some mindgames with the whole world and with Stark especially? It's so much more convinient to convice everybody that you do not exist at all and the real bad guy was Killian. Would be an interesting twist i guess.


As this movie continues to tank at the box office this should be a lesson to the comic publishers out there to never, ever, under any circumstances allow your creations to fall into the hands of the british who will all unanimously and intentionally SCREW your creation to the worst maximum disastrous ends. The brits CAN'T DO COMICS!! This junk happens EVERY… SINGLE… TIME… you give your comic to them to destroy!! EVERY… SINGLE… TIME…!!




Why do some many people defending it say it's some unique and different portrayal of a villain? The last comic book movie to come out did the EXACT same thing, and that was Dark Knight Rising with Bane. Bane was re-written from a super powered super villain to a "realistic" terrorist who turned out in a big plot twist to just be the face for a secret boss. And remember, that was a TERRIBLE movie coming out as the sequel to one of the best comic book adaptation movies ever made.

Iron man 3 did nothing special. I just watched a villain get Chris Nolan-ified and mess up a movie. Again.


As this movie continues to tank at the box office this should be a lesson to the comic publishers out there to never, ever, under any circumstances allow your creations to fall into the hands of the british who will all unanimously and intentionally SCREW your creation to the worst maximum disastrous ends. The brits CAN'T DO COMICS!! This junk happens EVERY… SINGLE… TIME… you give your comic to them to destroy!! EVERY… SINGLE… TIME…!!




OMG I am a closet comic book fan and I love this movie, I love what they did with the Mandarin no one saw that coming. In so doing it made the movie relatable, instead of campy, which is what would happen if we started sticking to the comic book panels. Lets face it, Stan Lee and others are no Frank Miller in which word for word text and panel transitions effortlessly into live action scene. without the movie loosing its realistic gritty flavor we have come to expect of 'comic book' movies since Tim Burton's and then Chris Nolan's ground breaking to batman films. In contrast, other batman movies which followed were disasters and they were so because they reverted to that campy comic book panels your purist expect. The comics make for great reading, but base on the material, they don't always transition to live action well. Having a thorough knowledge of Marvel comics, I am always afraid for the investors who decide to create live action movies from the content. Some comics are difficult to translate, and still be engaging.

Dr. Teeth

This article is attacking a bit of a straw man. Who cares about staying true to the comic book character? No one who's serious about movies is really complaining about this. My issue with the twist – which was well-done – is it took a villain I was genuinely interested in – a non-superpowered terrorist who Iron Man seemingly couldn't defeat, and replaced him with Guy Pierce's X-Men cast-off, who was boring in both motive and action.

I was really enjoying Kingsley's goofy accent and look and was really looking forward to where everything was going, and then suddenly the bad guy is just Guy Pierce with a plan that's completely incoherent and powers that are undefined and silly.


Honestly my problem is not just the little plot twist, but also the things brought up but never spoken of again. They brought up a lot of awesome plots in the first quarter of the movie that were there for two seconds, and then ended up not even being part of the story line in any way. For example they have him write a plea for help to Erin, but never bring it up again. Than there were other things, things that better actually have a point in avengers 2.


Well I'm no comic book fan so I feel if the twist annoyed you, you're just a little nerdlinger who doesn't deserve to watch films.

Adam duffield

Frankly I think its more racist to make a notabley chinese character and make him american
Its kind of ridicules


""THE Mandarin" is kind of a racist caricature". it's weird reading those word because if filmmakers really that sensitive about "racist", why are they always make ARABS people look bad?


I could give you a laundry list of reasons why the movie wasn't all that great outside of the reveal (even you say the bad guy's plot "made no sense" but still say "they're upset because it's good…" so yeah), but keep it on point to your article.

Poor Marjorie lives in a world where the only roles minorities can play are sainted ones, not allowing them to be cast in any light but a perfect one, because sometimes they weren't in teh past. That's great if you want to be PC, but it's not so great if you're an Asian actors who not only wants parts, but interesting ones. But your whole argument is a straw man (which makes the condescending nature of the post funny). How many people post move are complaining because the Mandarin isn't an Asian stereotype, or even ASIAN (in the old Oriental sense)? Sure, some people questioned about him not being Chinese, but once they cast an actor the level of Ben Kingsley a lot of that went away. And even more of it went away when they showed all the trailers building him up to be an interesting take. (Which was a horrible bait and switch because they didn't even use the lines in the trailers to convince us of that in the movie. Not hard to do a twist when you your advertising isn't just misleading, but false). No one cares that he wasn't an Asian stereotype. Heck, they could have made the Killian role Chinese and he wouldn't have been any Asian stereotype; a businessman in a suit who's technological research came up with some ring tech. So saying the Mandarin is racist so they had to make him a joke has no basis, because the movie Mandarin was something different and fans wanted to see THAT Mandarin do something.

And really, your point that it was a creative surprise that instead of a new kind of villain we get another corporate head tech guy as the bad guy…..just like the first two movies, makes no sense. Part of the problem people had with the second movie was that we just got another corporate stooge sending his tech out to fight Iron Man….just like 3. (Except, of course, this movie completely undercuts the second, after saying that it's the guy in the suit who makes the difference, we find in Iron Man 3 Tony agrees with Vanko…"drones are better.") The whole falling out the plane scene, which is thrilling, is undercut by the fact that it's not even Tony in the suit. He says "I am Iron Man" at the end, but the whole movie is point after point that anyone could be Iron Man….Pepper, some guy with a remote control, heck, JARVIS is more Iron Man than Tony. The whole situation wasn't fun and exciting. It was silly, and sucked any tension out of the movie. (Yeah, nerd boy at the beginning of the film IS the Mandarin. Right. Scary.)

While there are some I doubt there are that many that think a character the stature of the Human Torch can't be Black. It's more the fact that his sister is also part of the team, and if you're not making her Black too, then it's just a silly attempt to shoehorn something in to be PC, and an early sign that the people making it aren't taking the source material very seriously. Which hasn't been a successful tactic (until maybe now).

Back at you…if you want to see things completely different from their source material, why are you going to see movies with original screenplays, rather than adapted material? And if one wants to adapt it, why do they want to change it then? If you wanted to bait and switch, why not create a character who is your terrorist leader and then do the same beat? If you don't think you can do the Mandarin right, why not at least leave him for some other more creative person to work with later rather than ruin the character for everyone? There don't seem to be too many answers other than a big FU to the comic book fans.

Because the comics have a funny way of changing to what the movies are like, so we do worry that maybe we won't always have the books. Because they do change, as corporate thinks making the movies unlike the comics is ok, but making the comics unlike the movies causes confusion. So there's a good chance comic fans lose out on both.


But why use the Mandarin at all? There was absolutely no need for it. There were a billion ways to get cover for AIM's bomb blasts into the story line.

The flaw in the movie for me really isn't with the misuse/wasteful use of the Mandarin. It is with the warping of the extremis plot line itself. They borrowed heavily from extremis in IM1 and took the origin story in the same direction there. Why not do the same in IM3?

Everything in fact moved brilliantly in that direction, didn't it? The PTSD, the feeling of vulnerability as an Avenger who wasn't a god or blessed with super strength etc. It would ALL lend to that internalizing of extremis. Where they went with the whole story was plausible, just did not really go in the direction of the plot line from the comics (which I thought were brilliant).

Perhaps we will see Tony take on the extremis armor in Avengers 2. He certainly has to do something to get into a brand new armor suit.


I was never a Marvel guy growing up. I was more of a DC guy. I had no attachment to the Mandarin as a character as written in Marvel's universe.

I did, however, have an attachment to a villain with gravitas. That is something that Ben Kingsley has in spades, and could have made this character into an all-time classic villain. We could have been treated to Iron Man's version of Kahn, but instead we were force-fed Shane Black's political correctness.

Oh, and your comments regarding comic book readers? Yeah, that smacks of condescension and bias, but I guess that's the acceptable kind, right?


I applaud your attempt to defend the Mandarin failure. It's not that we didn't enjoy the movie, we did, we just felt they failed on a very big subject/part of the movie – it was basically false advertising. So your best arguments are cultural insensitivity and the surprise factor? Why do movies all of a sudden have to be politically correct? They could have easily ignored, danced around or limited the racism, even made him look positive as you mentioned… BUT THEY DIDN'T. And in regards to the surpise factor argument, really? all I can do is chuckle and say no. It was a good movie, even despite failing a big section, it was great enough that I still liked the movie, but was really looking forward to his archnemisis. I question if this was a decoy or introduction, and that he'll be in later.. maybe that's just me desperately trying to fill the void Ironman 3 didn't fill in regards to Mandarin.


Im not a huge fan of the Mandarin because i know he was based on a racist caricature. But i was a fan approach they were going to take on this character. I thought he was going to be a villain of influence, who had many at his call. I thought he was going to be a villain who uses his words and mind, attacking those he loved and cared about to defeat the hero.
I didn't want magic rings, one they are silly and two because the idea of the ten rings being a terrorist organisastion was already there. I got so hyped, and i thought his terrorist videos were scary as hell, i was like 'i cant wait to see the two face off.' and when i did. I was like. 'no!' a fake depiction of the Mandarin was more intimidating and more interesting than killian.


I also say they did not to use the same mandarin but they should never have wasted him. Its like saying the joker is just a clown that a gang has been using. Esspecially after the first half of the movie was AMAZING!!! the mandarin was cruel and everything. But whatever, if they bring him back with his rings and it works I will take back everything i said… They could easily find a way to make that twist hilarious and still bring back a version of the real mandarin.


Here is what I say… Comic book fans where cheated. The mandarin is not racist, you can keep any sort of racism out of it. Even make him only part chinese (like he is in the comics). He is a super smart, amazing villain. And to say he's racist only because he's asian is stupid. Thats like saying any black villian, or any white villain is racist. You can take any sort of racism out of it and still make a great mandarin. After that i don't have that much to complain about, coldblood was pretty lame interpritation as well. And if the make the mandarin return i would be fine. But all this has done is handed DC the only chance they had of making a return. Avenges smashed DC and made them twice as popular, this movie was supposed to be an easy success bringing the already tested and approved hero, with his greatest villain. Then they just blew it.


Here's the thing (and just so you know, I enjoyed the film), but the Mandarin is one of Iron Man's most iconic villains that just isn't another guy in a suit. I don't see how having a bad guy come from China is racist, and that's a low to say that…all you have to do is have both China and the US team up against him. Even with that point, here's where the movie is disappointing, and why The Plot twist sucked…it's the same old villain from the first two films.

Really, yet another jerkface that has a vendetta against a rich playboy. Every one of Iron Man's villains have been on dimensional. If you're going to screw up just about everything with an iconic villain, at least come up with something fun and different.

The very least is he could have had his ten rings (the ACTUAL ones) and or Fin Fan Foom, and don't you dare say Fin Fan Foom would have been stupid since in the Avengers Iron Man DID FIGHT A SPACE DRAGON (not exactly, but that description fits perfectly, eh?), and we are introduced to Thanatos, a SPACE GOD who lusts after death itself, and so at this point the superhero movie should be allowing for all of these fantastical things.

I've heard comparisons to Ra's Al Ghul's reveal in Begins, but the difference being that the fake out Ducard was NOTHING at all like Ra's, while the revealed Ra's was like him, right down to the goatee and mustache. Here we have Trevor, who actually was kind of like The Mandarin, but then revealed not to be The Mandarin.

Again, I would have been fine with a few changes, but what's wrong with a Chinese extremist exactly? Bad guys with fetishes can come from anywhere, China included. It would be racist if Tony was calling him a bunch of racist words, and considering himself superior to the Chinese race, but that wouldn't have been the case.

But like I said, the biggest problem I had with this film was that it was just another jerk with a vendetta against Tony. I was really hoping for something more villain wise, especially after the Marve Universe phase one being completed, but I guess movies still aren't ready to have both the right mixture of the fantastical with serious storytelling.

My favorite moment was the homage to all of Iron Man's armors, and how Tony used them to fight as well as nods and hints toward Pepper Pott's Rescue persona, which make up for the movie suffering from repeated formulas and "politically correct" changes due to sensitivities.

I look forward to a response, if you do give one, but I think the Mandarin could have been something special movie wise, even if changed completely. They could have done so much more.


Not sure why people are complaining that the Mandarin didn't use his rings… he probably just didn't get them yet. Some of his usual martial arts prowess were alluded to in the final fight, and for the rings… well, you KNOW he'll be back in Avengers 2 with the rings, so what's the problem?




I just saw Ironman with my nephews (one 6 and the other 13)! Was thoroughly disappointed as the movie was really boring and the story line was all over the place which made it confusing!
Also, to have a superb actor like Ben Kingsley playing such a stupid role was a complete waste of his talent The same comment is about Don Cheadle, and also Tony Stark as what is Ironman without his suit?
I cannot believe this writer was the same one who wrote the other IronMan's as it seemed
like 2-1/2 hours was like 4 hours as I got so bored watching it! We as a family have always supported Ironman, the Avengers, etc. I certainly hope the next 2014?
one will be much better, or you can count us out as a dedicated fan!


I think you do a disservice to many people who thought that the twist was bad not because it wasn't exactly the same as the comics so much as it was a huge waste of a major character from the comics, he did not have to be exactly the same, but to throw him away in such an unimpressive fashion was pathetic when you could have seamlessly renamed that baddie in the movie with no difference to the overall movie at all.


I understand that the original character was a racial stereotype, I wasn't upset that they didn't have a Chinese Actor playing him. I don't understand why the marvel movie universe doesn't understand how to combine magic and tech, if they don't want the rings to be magic but tech, that is fine. The reason that this whole thing is a problem is that had they done some similar twist with the Joker in a Batman movie you would never hear the end of it. The Mandarin is to Iron Man as the Joker is to Batman, or Luthor is to Superman or Ares to Wonder Woman. The point is they took a superhero's arch-nemesis and made him into a plot twist.


Yes, it was a good twist, but totally ruined everything the Mandarin stood for in the comics. Why bother employing the character to begin with if it was all to undermine THE Mandarin? Why not just create a NEW character? Like others, having spent months watching the trailers and the build up, it was THE worst part of the film. And as for THE Mandarin being a racist stereotype, duh, what were the Middle Eastern terrorists in the first Iron Man film? Hollywood has never been scared of creating and exploiting stereotypes, and while I oppose them, it would have been simple enough to update THE Mandarin so as not to create a stereotype, but an archetype, which is what a Superhero/Super villain is. Lots of the film rocked, but that plot-disaster left me feeling very dissatisfied. Plus there were plenty of other plot-holes, which I won;t go into for fear of spoilers…. Much better than Iron Man 1 and 2 in many ways, but they were for kids, Iron Man 3 at least attempted to be for adults. ;-0)


STOP assuming every person who has a problem with this is just part of a small vocal cult of comic book nerds. It's unbelievably condescending to assume any legitimate gripes are easily dismissed as the super hardcore. My wife saw this with me, has no knowledge of the comic books, and even she thought the twist was just a failed attempt to be clever and satirical. Like trying to shoehorn cancer in a slapstick comedy just to make it "deep."

Hate all these defenses of the twist, too much of an attempt to marginalize people's gut reactions because it's "ingenius." You do know variations of this misdirection are not exactly new, right? Hell, the bones of the script's plot points are basically The Dark Knight Rises, and I'm sure the bones of that came from other things.


No, I'm upset because the movie is bad.

Tone is incredibly important in filmmaking, and so is message. The Mandarin posed an incredibly interesting challenge for Tony Stark and raised an important question: how does a one-man super army deal with terrorists that could strike at any time, any place? One could not think of a better metaphor for the current state of international affairs. The marketing of The Mandarin and the first hour of the movie created a fully engrossing character that seemed capable of posing a true threat to Tony Stark. When the reveal happens, it not only undercuts the potential for true resonance with the audience and society, but it undercuts the tension and destroys the carefully constructed stakes of the film. The Mandarin as handled in Iron Man 3 is an insult to the intelligence of so many loyal Marvel audience members. The film devolves from a great, even important step up in the discourse of super hero cinema to a fantastic commercial for toys and eye candy for twelve year olds. The original Iron Man was a great film; Iron Man 3 is a great film for twelve year olds.


I love plot twists and going in new directions with comic lore. But I have to agree that this twist goes too far. It takes the central villain (regardless of looks or race) and removes him as any kind of threat. This awesome looking portrayal of the Mandarin turns out to be a hoax. Good plot twists make you want to watch the film again immediately with the new information you have. This twist ruins repeat viewings because the Mandarin will have zero effect now that we know he is a burned-out loser named Trevor.

My only hope is that the Trevor guise was the actual fake, and that The Mandarin was fooling everyone, as others have suggested. THAT reveal should have been following the credits. Unfortunately, we will not know until maybe the next Iron Man film.


Well, that's just like, your opinion, man.

My problem, which I feel is perfectly fine to complain about, along with any other reason, is I feel like I was cheated and lied to by the trailers. For months and months and months I watched the images of Kingsley flash on screen amidst the explosions and Stark's mansion crumbling. His ominous, hard-to-place voiceover soaring over the kinetic trailers. And then I see the movie and… oh, wait. It's a joke. The director, and by extension the film, is laughing at me for expecting to see Ben Kingsley as the monumental BAMF the Mandarin always was.

THAT is my problem. It was a joke. Flipped on its head and shown off to be laughed at. I paid $15 to see Ben Kingsley trounce Iron Man, Black knows that, and it's not cool with me, man.

Not. Cool. At. All.


Umm… the "vaguely defined other" as you put it would be the "amoral CEO", which by the way is much more of a "hoary Hollywood staple" than an Asian villain. You know, college propaganda is supposed to be a starting point in your thinking process, not an end. I can think of a million "amoral" business people in the movies, but I can't think of one Asian villain. And who are these "ignorant people" and their "fears" that you are so concerned with? You mean us Americans that live in the most diverse country ever to exist on the planet? You are fine with a black Human torch, but not an Asian villain? Huh? Oh, I get it, non-Caucasians are to be treated like a fine vase– gently and with great care. You fear racism because of the reactions of the "other", when in reality you are steeped in it up to your ears. When you can treat another race the same as yours then you will get somewhere. Treating another race as if a delicate flower reveals your racism, not the "others" that you fear so much. All races can and should be both heroes and villains. It's a shame, because outside of your overt racism this is an excellent article, and I agree completely that comic book fans have overreacted to the twist.


This is what I didn't like: Not that he didn't have super power gins, not that he wasn't Chinese, that that he turned out to be a mastermind like we all thought, not that he didn't turn out to be a physical match for Stark (which is a problem for all the villains in every Marvel film except for this film). The problem was that it turned out to be an actor. If he was to be a henchmen and that Killian was just pulling the strings, I would be fine with it. If it turned out to be an Extremis slave that just did the will of Killian with no knowledge that would be fine. The fact that all this Mandarin turned out to be was a fake and that Killian was the "real Mandarin" then this dangerous threatening persona feels obliterated. I think it would have been better of Stark fights Kingsley and he finds out the truth that Killian made it up as an anti-Batman-esque symbol and in the end we see Killian in the Mandarin clothing and the Ten Rings and fights Stark in the final battle as The Mandarin, not as Killian with fire skin and dragon tattoos. (And if he was an actor thinking he was doing a role for a film or show then why didn't he question why he is shooting pictures of President Ellis and why he is calling Ellis out? The same thing with the shooting of one of the Presidents staff members…he didn't know that was real? Which makes me think the Mandarin is still Ben Kingsley, he is just fooling everyone.)

The other problem I had with it, which actually has nothing to do with the Mandarin, is how he has all those suits at his call and doesn't call on at least one of them while he is in hiding? I think it would have been so much better if they had truly stripped him of all of his suits and he had just that one to save him, really bringing him back to the cave in the first film. That would have been a better conclusion, a combination of those two ideas.


Small nitpick… you can't fly something thru a "spoiler". You can fly something thru a plot hole, because it is, you know, a hole. But a spoiler is not a hole. You'd crash into it, instead of flying thru it.


My problem with the Mandarin reveal was that it was anti-climactic. It didn't really mean ANYTHING. It LOWERED the stakes. All it meant was that Tony Stark had one less villain to worry about. One less fight. It basically did one job for him. And that is LAME AS SHIT.

We already KNEW Killian was a bad guy. We already knew he was behind Extemis. We knew Tony was going to have to take him down. But we also THOUGHT that there was a bigger bad guy out there. The Mandarin. How is Tony going to defeat THIS guy we thought. He's way scarier than Killian. We don't even know what he's about! But man, THAT'S the confrontation to see.

Oh wait! Never mind. He's just some kooky alcoholic actor. So all Tony has to deal with is the secondary villain…? The guy who has the same powers as all the henchmen? Well what the hell do I care about that!?

Killian wasn't portrayed as even HALF as threatening as the Mandarin was. So when the Mandarin is suddenly revealed to not be real… Killian seems like a second place prize. Who wants second place when you've been promised the winner for half the movie?

Big time let down.

Brad Bell

Had no problem with the twist or concept, I just hate how Black botched the execution of that moment by turning the reveal into a comedic ploy!


I don't understand how its not okay to complain about The Mandarin being fake. I was still able to enjoy the twist for what its worth, but why is it wrong for people to be upset by the fact that they don't get to see Iron Man face off against possibly his greatest foe? The character in the 1960s may be considered racial, but so were so many other that still got to be seen in films. The original Batman serials had him terribly racist, and yet he gets to exist today on celluloid (pixels*), without being criticized for how the character was treated in the past.

Also, its worth noting, the Mandarin in the film, before the big reveal, wasn't even questionably like the character of the 60s/70s comics. Thats right, when we thought it was a straight take on the character, it worked without offense. And I'd rather see Iron Man face off against that big villain then a fire breathing Guy Pearce. So sure it was a fun gag, but the rest of the movie wasu unfortunately affected .


Good article. I'm just a comic book "enthusiast" so I don't mind changes. At all. I understand some purists could and would mind — but I also understand purists are sad.

Nicholas Kelly

Being completely unfamiliar with the comics, I have no investment in the onscreen fidelity to the source material. My problem with the plot twist is that the Guy Pearce character just wasn't that threatening a villain, whereas Ben Kingsley did give the movie a sense of threat before the twist. After the twist, I felt like most of the drama and tension drained out of the movie, which was especially problematic since the story was heading into the climax at that point. It could be that the surprise of the twist was what undermined the drama for me, and maybe I would enjoy it more on a second viewing, though I have other problems with the movie's third act that are unrelated to the twist, namely that RDJ's continued quipping undermined the sense of danger, especially after Pepper was kidnapped.


Hey Matt, I definitely agree that The Mandarin was definitely a neat and surprising twist. Unfortunately, I found the rest of the movie to embody the whole "illusion of change" thing you talk about. I know its basically impossible for these Marvel movies to take any serious risks with their characters or try to mix-up the overall structure of their movies, but I would like something with a little more personality to it. The only upcoming Marvel movie I can see doing that is Edgar Wright's Ant Man.


I really enjoyed this article and I really enjoyed the movie. I think what people are forgetting is that the Mandarin has, in the comics, gone at great lengths to set up a false identity and company just so he can further his plans. In my opinion a good 65% of the movie was based off of the haunted story arc, with the first twenty minutes being the extremis arc. If you read the haunted arc take another look and you will find it is VERY similar to im3 and the Mandarin's plans and and actions are very similar to Killians. And at the end of the movie when Killian says "I AM THE MANDARIN, I WAS FROM THE START!" or something along those lines, what I took from it, as a comics fan, was that he was the Mandarin all along and Aldrich Killian was just an identity that he used to legally make AIM and prepare to distribute extremis. Sort of like in Haunted where he did the same thing but remove AIM and make it a pharmaceutical company. I give it an 9/10. I didn't think the twist was a disservice at all, and I own almost all the Iron Man comics, what I did find was a disservice was the last few minutes of the movie, removing the arc reactor felt a bit rushed, and in the movie universe it didn't really make sense, it did in the comics but not the movie. Oh and tony destroying his suits felt a bit out of character. A given I rarely like the last five minutes of any threequel.

Iron Fan

The thing for me is that I wanted to see the Mandarin re-invented, but I wanted to see the Mandarin as a real villain. After the brilliant way Marvel movies have handled everything from Frost Giants and Asgard to aliens on skies flying through New York City, I expected them to take a brilliant but out-dated character and re-invent it for the next generation. The Joker is a lot more menace now that Ledger did the role with Singer's vision, and that has really even helped the character in the comics.

Skip the part about him being Asian, have there be weird rumors about him, make the rings standard technology, but re-energize him. He's THE major Iron Man villain for decades. You can make him worthy of being on the screen. They didn't. Instead they decided to poo poo the fans, feed us crap, and then put out things like this article to convince us it's because they're all so much smarter than we are.

It's not smarter to screw over a character because you are out of ideas. That just shows a lack of imagination, and to defend it shows that you really don't get how to actually be a critic.


"The Mandarin isn't the Mandarin, he's a drug-addicted theater actor named Trevor, who was hired by the movie's true villain"

You write an article to defend THIS?

Not including the actual depiction of the Manadrin because it would be racist? Right, so the middle-eastern terrorist inspired videos featuring a guy that executes people on a pirate TV broadcast with a long scraggly beard ISN'T racist.

This is literally the same as if Lex Luthor or The Joker were actually just random bums off the street and had 10 minutes of screen time before being dismissed as comic relief body double.

It's fine if you aren't that big into a particular series of characters from any other outside source, but if you can't see this giant Hollywood screwup as anything but, then you're fairly delusional.


I agree with this article, its refreshing to see that there's still people who want to see a new movie that surprises you. I love marvel i love iron man, But i am actually quit happy black didn't use the comics as basically his script. I want to be surprised in a movie u want to sit at the edge of my seat, so the fact he changed a few things was nice. I read the comics in fully aware black screwed up iron mans main villain. He also screwed up A.i.m. however but im not angry about it. If i want the real story ill pick up the comics again. i liked the movie the first one way better however it was a big improvement from starks second outing. The one thing I wished would of happened is more Tony in the suit. But it was a good story and without stark there is no iron man and people need to remember that. People need to realize by now that Hollywood takes the comics and puts a new refreshing twist to them. Sometimes it works out sometimes it fails. Someone stated the only true adaptation of a comic was the watchmen, and guess what that movie was a box office failure! I did like watchmen but it didn't have good numbers at all! People are free to opinions but sometimes it makes me want to through my keyboard threw the wall when people rag and hate on a movie cause its not word for word scene by scene like the original comics. Read the comics if that's what you want there fantastic! But these our Hollywood movies with original ideas and twists that are very entertaining if you take your head out of your ass. Okay SPOILER…. I just remembered I did in fact hate the pepper had super powers briefly that made me shake my head in shame. That's it though so what if mandarin was drastically changed or a.i.m. well wasnt a.i.m. at all there was no high tech weapons and modock. iron man three was a good movie and had a good solid story with some nice refreshing stark banter and humor that my kids enjoyed as well as me. after years with stark even jarvis picked up on his witty banter. Well i went on long enough i just wish and hope more people see these movies as adaptations and let the studios and directors actually have vision without hating on them just because they wanted to do something different. Directors are visionaries and don't want to make a movie exactly like a comic or video game that's just boring and there is no surprises. You can hate this movie but that won't stop it from breaking records and becoming #1 at the box office and spawn a fourth outing for stark and his suit. Thanks all for reading and thank you to the author for a good read and for a open mind. My vote and opinion iron man 3 is a 8/10 and is highly worth a watch. have a good one everyone cant wait to see people hate on thor next.


They're going to cast a black human torch? They better make invisible woman black too since they're related… -____-


Ok, so I'm going to start off by saying that I haven't read the comics… and most of you probably stopped reading this there. But if you have an open enough mind to keep going, thank you.

I honestly heard that there was a "big plot twist" in this movie prior to watching it… and spent the whole movie trying to figure out what it could be, or what it was. I honestly thought the plot twist was going to be about Pepper. I didn't know about the Mandarin, or know what to expect. But I saw one thing plain as day… The character of Killian did not mesh with that of the Mandarin that we were supposed to expect. I don't believe that this "twist" was telegraphed, per say, but I did see it coming; as soon as it showed Killian directly referencing "the Master" I had a feeling that Killian was the Mandarin all along. The story spent too much time introducing Killian, and put too much into his character for him to just be a lackey. It was only a twist if you were expecting the Mandarin to be "THE Mandarin". I don't know if this was even intended as the twist that people are making it out to be. The ten rings mentioned do sound like they would be awesome to witness, and I'm kind of curious to see how the authentic Mandarin would have worked out. However, this movie was extremely well done, and anyone that is so caught up on childish purism to not notice that… well, sucks to be you.

A couple responses to previous comments:

DOC: Your words hurt my brain… Tony Stark is Iron Man. He says so at the end of the movie. He proves this when the kid tells him he's a mechanic, and he proceeds to kick well-trained mercenary's butts with impromptu hardware-store weapons. The suit is not the character, he is. He can do shit that you couldn't dream of without touching the suit, and he made the original suit, from scrap metal, in a cave, while injured, and under constant watch. Iron Man is not the suit, and does not need the suit. We got a movie chocked full of Iron Man, and Robert Downey Jr. played him right up to standards. However, we got him in the form of a human… a real person, with real problems, anxiety and all. We got a story… a real story.

I have no disdain for comics in general, but for every good one, there are a dozen that are badly paced, badly structured, badly conveyed, and/or overall just badly written. That doesn't mean that comics are bad… But it makes me sad to know that such a large base of the readership don't demand quality; they pay for any tripe that is put on their plate because all they are looking for is basic action, and mindless, straight to the point "super heroes". And you are trying to say that the directors and writers are stupid for not giving us that same mindless, basic action. Shame on you.

Andrew: You make a good point as far as 10 rings mercenaries, vs the 10 rings of Mandarin. Perhaps they never intended the Mandarin to be the authentic comic version, and simply used that name for the merc group as an homage? It does make me wonder if this "twist" was a long time in the making, or something that came about during production, as an impromptu necessity, vs planned deviance.

As for as your point of confusion, I noticed that myself, and her is my take on it. That scene involving the removal of the shrapnel is actually a segue: it starts with Tony saying that he fixed Pepper, during the initial part of the scene, and then moves straight into that. Perhaps I'm reading too far into it, but it raised two questions in my mind. 1) Did he "cure" Pepper, or did he simply stabilize the Extremis? And 2) If it is the latter, is his sudden willingness to have the shrapnel removed, without worry, due to himself taking the stabilized Extremis? There is no glow, no obvious proof either way, on Pepper or Tony. However this would explain his willingness to undergo that operation, to part with the arc reactor from his chest, and to seemingly throw away the suit. He no longer needs the suit to be Iron Man… He already is Iron Man.


I just got back from the movie, and am deeply angry on many levels. I think this movie was a real waste of time. There was no Mandarin in this movie, even though just about every screen shot promised there would be, but then people try to say they didn't include him because that would be racist. Instead they just replaced him with a man that looked a lot like what Muslim terrorists look like, that's not racist at all.

Beyond just that though, this movie missed a lot of other points. It made me not like Pepper, which was aided by the fact that her only screen time was either being a damsel in distress or being a b**** to Tony. It also treated Tony's anxiety as a secondary plot point, that seemed rushed or forced.

Still though, I was promised The Mandarin, instead I got a whiny CEO that could breathe fire. Turning The Mandarin into what they did, would be like trying to sell Iron Man without his suit. Personally, I have seen better movies, and I hope that when other directors make a comic book movie, they use the comic book as more than just a very loose guideline to follow.


Hi Matt,

Completely agree with your article and find it refreshing to read, for once on the Internet, a sensible, constructive breakdown of an entertaining film based on our beloved comic books.

Some of the comments below (such as 'I f***ed your wife' and 'nice job putting out spoilers' (I'll come back to you in a minute) ) only serve to strengthen your argument.

As a comic book reader for over 30 years I really enjoy seeing other people's takes on classic characters and I think we should all be grateful when these individuals can continue to surprise us.

(Nice job putting out spoilers – two things you dumb cunt 1. There is a spoiler warning at the beginning of the article. 2. Why the fuck are you reading an article containing spoilers if, by the sounds of it, you haven't seen the movie yet?… Dumb. Cunt.

Also, this is for the 'hey Matt I fucked your wife' twat… DUMB. CUNT.


I don't think you fully appreciate how fans were waiting years to finally see any form of the Mandarin to finally hit the big screen (keep in mind, any form of the Mandarin). I personally was really excited how they would tie the first movie in with the implementation of the 10 rings mercenary group.

In order for the story to make sense, AIM either was supporting the 10 rings when they kidnapped tony, or made people believe it was still alive after the first movie. Not exactly good storytelling and really missed a good opportunity to go full circle.

The thing that confused me was how he simply got rid of his Sharpnel at the end of the movie. Wasn't that the plot point of Iron Man 2? He needed his Arc to top the shrapnel but it was poisoning him in that movie.

Matt Singer Sucks Dick

Hey Matt I fucked your wife. I gave her what she desired because your baby dick couldn't handle it. Damn that pussy tastes good.

Fuck You

Nice job putting out the spoilers stupid fucker.

Hitler Rodriguez

I agree with you somewhat but each comic book film that had come out hasn't been a direct recreation of an exact story besides Watchmen. Each director puts their own spin on a story and the characters there. That's common sense but in all honesty the Mandarin here could have at least been true to the comics without the giant middle finger. Black didnt want to take a risk and went the M. Night route. I guess for the arrogant 15 year old who wrote this article that must be movie gold. Comics change every day kid they offer new stories and twists. This aint Twilight.


I did enjoy Iron Man 3 not my favorite but it is definitely a good film. My only problem with the twist in the movie was that Marvel tends to bring these changes in the movies over to the comic books. They did this with Nick Fury, (who is my favorite character) by making a Nick Fury in the current 616 (comic) universe like the one in the movies. The original Nick Fury does still exist but has been pushed aside and will more than likely killed off. I just hope they do not destroy the Mandarin character in comics.


I didn't like it because it had less screen time for Iron Man than the Avengers movie. Why don't movie makers understand that we don't go to a super hero movie to NOT see the hero with his powers. A more apt title would have been 'Tony Stark and the People That Glow.'


Thank you for defending what I agree was a brilliant move. But it's not just the element of surprise that makes it special. This version is more in keeping with the overarching themes of the film trilogy. And rather than evading racial stereotypes, which would be nigh impossible, it illustrates how they get exploited to manipulate our fear of the Other:

There's also some really great thematic resonance between Tony's empty suits of armor and the "empty" Mandarin, etc.


yeah, this is a dumb article to post on the day a movie like this comes out. stuff like this is terrible for audiences, especially coming from a film site


Why even mention there is a big plot twist? Who benefits from this? Especially before a movie has been released?

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