The Mandarin: Ben Kingsley Talks About Iron Man 3 Twist

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One of the most polarizing things about Iron Man 3 was Shane Black’s decision on how he used The Mandarin. Sir Ben Kingsley recently spoke about his portrayal of the classic Iron Man villain and talked about how he went into the creation of the character. This article contains spoilers for those who have not seen the movie.

The Mandarin

Now, I thought Ben Kingsley’s performance as The Mandarin was pretty dang brilliant – and not just when he was pretending to be the mastermind behind the terrorist attacks. I thought when it was shown that he was just a front and the real Mandarin was Guy Pearce, Kingsley was even better. I mean, he was great as The Mandarin, but wasn’t that just a carbon copy of Bane?

Anyway, the fact is that Guy Pearce was The Mandarin and he was feeding Kingsley’s fake the lines to read to the American people because – honestly – who is scarier to the American people – Ben Kingsley or Guy Pearce? It is the exact same as the story from Batman Begins when Ken Wantanabe was the fake Ra’s al Ghul in place of Liam Neesom.

So, how did Kingsley go about preparing for such an interesting and different role, where instead of playing just another super powered villain, he was actually playing a complex character that was nothing more than a front? He didn’t and he played it straight, which is why so many people were disappointed instead of thrilled when the twist occurred (I thought it was brilliant, while D-Rock hated it – showing the polarity of the twist).

“I forgot all about the twist until I got to it in the script. I just read it page by page. And I totally would have accepted The Mandarin as The Mandarin, actually,” Kingsley said.

He also said he doesn’t really care about any backlash or controversy in changing the character from the comics, which was honestly a racial stereotype that many non-comic fans would have bashed Marvel for if they had went with the classic Mandarin anyway.

The Mandarin

Shane Black was in a no-win situation using the character and went with the smarter, lesser used angle, rather than the boring super villain terrorist that happens in too many comic book movies anyway.

“It doesn’t enter my thinking at all. It may be a lot to do with the fact that I was a Shakespeare actor for 15 years and played roles that everybody in the audience knew,” Kingsley said. “Some members of the audience even knew the lines of the character. My training is to inhabit a very famous character like Hamlet and make him surprising. So I’m kind of used to that approach to work: Make it fresh, you know? Make it surprising.”

Where do you stand on the issue? Did the surprise make the movie more interesting or were you hoping for just another foreign terrorist in order to keep the movie more faithful to The Mandarin from the comics?

Source: The Huffington Post

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About the Author

Shawn S. Lealos
Shawn is a film critic with over 25 years of experience in print and online media. He is a member of the Oklahoma Film Critics Circle and loves everything from critically acclaimed movies to B-level action flicks.
  • Shaggy

    Hard to believe there are no comments on this yet.

    My opinion of Ben Kingsley in general is this: Every time I watch him, I find myself trying to figure out where his reputation comes from. I feel like I should like him, but I just can’t get into it. I’m 42, have intended to eventually get around to seeing Ghandi, but never did, so that’s probably part of it. The rest of it must have to do with what I have seen him in. Maybe I’m just not picking the right movies… or maybe is he not.

    When I discovered he was the bad guy in the latest Iron Man flick, I was skeptical at best, expecting utter disappointment at worst. I fully anticipated Kingsley’s ability to turn the movie into a cheesefest. Now that I’m reflecting, I think I may have felt the same way When I found out Mickey Rourke was the bad guy in Iron Man 2. As I recall, I was satisfied with his performance in the end as well.

    As The Mandarin’s twist started to unfold, I was like “wuuuuuut?” I didn’t see that coming. Good thing too. I’m pretty sure it could have gone straight downhill from there, had it not been for Kingsley’s performance. I’m still left wondering what could have been, but thanks to Mr. Kingsley, I don’t have to dwell on it. It ended up being a fair trade.

    Although the movie ended up going in a different direction than I thought it would, I liked the movie. I am a fan of the unexpected, if it’s done well. Trevor Slattery was great, let’s just leave it at that.

    /shaggy

    • Thanks for the great comment, and I agree completely. I thought Kingsley made the twist great. You are right about it possibly destroying the movie, but I actually thought it made it better.

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