By Marc Strom
|Ben Kingsley stars as the Mandarin in "Iron Man 3"|
For decades, the Mandarin has plagued Tony Stark in the pages of the Iron Man comics. Now, with Marvel’s “Iron Man 3,” he comes to cinematic life to challenge the Armored Avenger in a whole new way.
Played by Ben Kingsley in the film, the Mandarin has received a 21st-century update for the Marvel Cinematic Universe, but the filmmakers have long teased the villain, even since the early days of the firs Iron Man movie.
“For those of you following along I think it was Comic-Con 2007 when [‘Iron Man’ director] Jon Favreau said, ‘I can’t tell you much, but I can tell you the Mandarin is the bad guy,’” recalls “Iron Man 3” producer Kevin Feige. “We thought, ‘what can we tell them? That’s probably pretty safe.’ And then we changed it about 12 weeks before we started filming. We said, ‘there’s too much stuff going on here, we want to focus on Tony more,’ so we took [Mandarin] out.
|The Mandarin in his very own "Iron Man 3" character poster|
“We talked about him again for ‘Iron Man 2,’ but frankly it wasn’t until ['Iron Man 3' director] Shane [Black] that there was the idea that sort of cracked it [and] allowed him to be an entity that, right off the bat, is recognizable and frightening and fearful in a very sort of ripped-from-the-headlines, Osama Bin Laden sort of way. But at the same time, [Shane’s idea] spun it in a new way and the example of it that Shane always uses is Marlon Brando’s character in ‘Apocalypse Now,’ Colonel Kurtz. He was a guy who’s gone off the reservation, who’s incorporating all these different symbols and iconography into his worldview.”
For director and co-writer Shane Black, the Mandarin presented a lot of rich creative opportunities. And though the trailers have kept the Mandarin encased in mystery, Black has a very clearly defined understanding of what makes the villain tick.
“He has an intelligence background,” the director elaborates. “He was probably a supervisor of atrocities at a time. His nationality is even unclear because he’s shrouded in secrecy, but at some point this field officer went nuts and became a student of warfare and ancient Chinese symbolism, and drew from South American insurgency tactics and [to] create around himself this little world of warfare, the only unifying principle of which seems to be a hatred of the United States.
|"Iron Man 3" soars into theaters & IMAX 3D May 3|
“He represents every terrorist in a way, but he specifically has crafted himself in the manner of the Mandarin, of the warlord, and I think that’s great because you get to do the comic book [version of the villain], but yet you don’t have to deal with the specifics of the Fu Man Chu stereotyping. We aren’t saying he’s Chinese, we’re saying he, in fact, draws a cloak around himself of Chinese symbols and dragons because it represents his obsession with Sun Tzu and ancient arts of warfare that he has studied."
Fans will have to wait until May 3 to see the Mandarin in action as “Iron Man 3” hits theaters and IMAX 3D, but until then get a peek with the first and second trailers for the film, plus stay up to date with the Armored Avenger with the official Iron Man page on Facebook or @Iron_Man on Twitter!
Marvel’s “Iron Man 3” pits brash-but-brilliant industrialist Tony Stark/Iron Man against an enemy whose reach knows no bounds. When Stark finds his personal world destroyed at his enemy's hands, he embarks on a harrowing quest to find those responsible. This journey, at every turn, will test his mettle. With his back against the wall, Stark is left to survive by his own devices, relying on his ingenuity and instincts to protect those closest to him. As he fights his way back, Stark discovers the answer to the question that has secretly haunted him: does the man make the suit or does the suit make the man?
Starring Robert Downey, Jr., Gwyneth Paltrow, Don Cheadle, Guy Pearce, Rebecca Hall, Stephanie Szostak, James Badge Dale with Jon Favreau and Ben Kingsley, “Iron Man 3” is directed by Shane Black from a screenplay by Drew Pearce and Shane Black and is based on Marvel’s iconic super hero Iron Man, who first appeared in the pages of TALES OF SUSPENSE #39 in 1963 and had his solo comic book debut with THE INVINCIBLE IRON MAN #1 in May of 1968.
“Iron Man 3” is presented by Marvel Studios in association with Paramount Pictures and DMG Entertainment. Marvel Studios’ President Kevin Feige is producing and Jon Favreau, Louis D'Esposito, Stephen Broussard, Victoria Alonso, Alan Fine, Charles Newirth, Stan Lee and Dan Mintz are executive producers. The film releases May 3, 2013, and is distributed by Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures.
In addition to "Iron Man 3," Marvel Studios will release a slate of films based on the Marvel characters including "Thor: The Dark World" on November 8, 2013; "Captain America: The Winter Soldier" on April 4, 2014; "Guardians of the Galaxy" on August 1, 2014; the untitled "Marvel's The Avengers" sequel on May 1, 2015; and "Ant-Man" on November 6, 2015.