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.
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.
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