Spoilers for the Iron Man 3 Mandarin twist follow
The Iron Man 3 Mandarin paradox has split viewers, including writers on this site, right down the middle. Some (such as myself) view the move as brilliant, making the movie better than it would have been otherwise. Others (such as Jesse) hated it and wanted to see Ben Kingsley as the powerful Mandarin from the comics, allowing Iron Man to have to battle Mandarin and his 10 Rings.
Personally, I think that would have been a boring rehash of the Whiplash battles in Iron Man 2, but Mandarin has his fans. I will be actually talking in great detail in next week’s Renegade Rant about the reason that comic book fans are the greatest evil to comic book movies chances of success. But, for now, lets hear what Shane Black, the writer and director of Iron Man 3, had to say about the Iron Man 3 Mandarin twist.
“I would say that we struggled to find a way to present a mythic terrorist that had something about him that registered after the movie’s over as having been a unique take, or a clever idea, or a way to say something of use. And what was of use about the Mandarin’s portrayal in this movie, to me, is that it offers up a way that you can sort of show how people are complicit in being frightened. They buy into things in the way that the audience for this movie buys into it. And hopefully, by the end you’re like, ‘Yeah, we were really frightened of the Mandarin, but in the end he really wasn’t that bad after all.’ In fact, the whole thing was just a product of this anonymous, behind-the-scenes guy. I think that’s a message that’s more interesting for the modern world because I think there’s a lot of behind-the-scenes, a lot of fear, that’s generated toward very available and obvious targets, which could perhaps be directed more intelligently at what’s behind them.”
I really like where Black was going with this. This all really ties back in to what Black already said (and what Guy Pearce’s character in the movie said) when they explained that he was the real Mandarin.
The world today is scared to death of evil faceless terrorists. One man, Osama Bin Laden, was responsible for the terrorist attacks that killed numerous people on 9/11. His face suddenly became the one everyone focused on as the Face of Terror.
All the while, Bin Laden was hiding in caves and occasionally sending messages of propaganda to let everyone know he was still alive. Meanwhile, terrorists were still killing in his name – but it was not Bin Laden that was doing the killing. However, it was Bin Laden’s face that was plastered up as the great terrorist and hand of destruction.
Just like Ben Kinsgley’s The Mandarin.
The only difference is that Kingsley’s character was not even the one pulling the strings. However, as the movie showed, he was the one that most of his followers believed was the one pulling the strings. Remember the scene where he was filming the message for the president? Everyone there – all the believers – thought he was the master.
That was the brilliance of the character. He was the Face of Evil – but at the end of the day, that was all he was. This was a lot like real situations happening still today. The U.S. Government wants us to see a face that we can then call evil. But they don’t want us to see how deep it really goes. In the case of Iron Man 3, it went all the way to the Vice President of the United States.
Iron Man 3 wasn’t the story of Iron Man versus a Super Villain who wanted to take over the world. It was the story of Iron Man trying to save his country from an organization that wanted to take over the world. That is a lot scarier to regular people than a racist-based goon with mystical rings.
But that is the problem with movies based on comic books. The comic book fans can be the most vocal, and nothing Shane Black says about the Iron Man 3 Mandarin twist will ever satisfy them.
Source: Screen Rant