As with all Marvel films, there is always a tremendous amount of anticipation about what character or characters will be revealed as the villain and “Iron Man 3” continued the tradition. With so much source material to choose from, the filmmakers were happy to confirm, to the delight of the fans, that the highly anticipated character of The Mandarin would finally make his appearance after years of speculation.
I just saw an advance screening of iron man 3 today and could not believe what I had seen in terms of the amount it revealed and oh boy was it full of conspiracy:
– the villain and terrorist Mandarin turns out to be just an actor behind a green screen apparently being staged in a Hollywood production type studio
– it turns out that the Vice President is funding and helping the fake terrorists within some sort of shadow government
-“Project extremis” in the film shows how the government/ big industial complex is conducting evil experiments to create super soilders or mind controlled agents with the hope of conducting false flag terrorism with actual living human bombs.
There are so many other things in the movie that its impossible to state them all. You will all see what I am talking about when you see the film yourselves.
“The Mandarin is unquestionably Tony Stark’s greatest enemy,” says producer Louis D’ Esposito. “He is a very frightening, modern-day terrorist who has taken motifs from all over the world and it was a very cool, relevant and scary idea. So when we were casting the role we wanted somebody whose ethnicity was not specific and we also needed somebody who was a spectacular actor.”
There’s an irreverent “sense of humour” to the film’s turns of events, too, which might irk some comic book readers (more on these later), but provide Iron Man 3 with its most hearty laughter, at the screening I attended at least. As one particular plot twist hoves into view, it’s difficult not to wonder: is Iron Man 3 intended as a parody of Bush-era foreign politics? Certainly, The Mandarin’s resemblance to Bin Laden, and William Sadler’s President’s vaguely George W-style side-parting, appears to lend weight to the theory.
“We create our own demons” is the lingering, introspective message the movie has to give us, and this, along with the repeated references to the War on Terror and allusions to recent campaigns in the Middle East, makes this an unusually weighty entry in the Marvel Universe.Cheadle’s Colonel Rhodes, who looks resplendent in his colourful Iron Patriot suit, but ends up crashing around the Middle East and not doing much at all for a large part of the film. In fact, his suit later becomes a sort of prison for both himself and, later, the kidnapped President (another Shane Black staple, is kidnapping), and there’s a certain gleeful sense of anarchy in the bit where we see him strung up, spread-eagled, and looking faintly absurd in the Iron Patriot’s now useless battle armour.
Finally, there’s Ben Kinglsey’s The Mandarin, a familiar figure from the Iron Man comics, pressed into an unusual mould here. With his unfeasibly long beard and grandiose speeches, Iron Man 3’s version of the character is a media-savvy warlord with a taste for the theatrical. But from the first time we see him, we sense something off about him: his clothing, that throne, those rings: it’s all a little too showy, a little absurd. His American accent is atrocious. Has Black made a terrible misstep here?
By the glorious reveal at the mid-point, we learn that, no, it was all part of the story’s reveal: Mandarin is little more than a construct (“A think tank thinked him up!”), a character portrayed by Kingsley’s sleazy, dishevelled London thespian Trevor Slattery. Kingsley’s performance here is a superb piece of comedy, as is Stark’s reaction when he discovers that this feared terrorist is pure smoke and mirrors – a puppet for the true villain, Killian, who wants to use the fear of terrorism to sell his Extremis technology. (In a bit snipped out of our interview due to its spoiler-filled nature, Shane Black told us that he loved the idea of Tony Stark fighting a villain wearing a “Lacoste shirt and chinos”.)
Put all this together, and you have a superhero movie that is both smart and playful; it explores similarly current themes to the Dark Knight trilogy, but does so in a far more humorous, Technicolor manner. And like The Dark Knight Rises, Iron Man 3 finds a way to bring Stark’s story to a close, while at the same time leaves the door open for more adventures: Stark could put his Iron Man suit on again in a future movie, or maybe the wide-eyed young inventor Harley (Ty Simpkins) will one day take up his mantle.
Some readers of the Iron Man comics might be somewhat dismayed at the film’s rather casual treatment of The Mandarin (and fan reaction so far does appear to have been mixed) but for us, Black’s mischievous reveal was one of the funniest surprises we’ve seen in a comic book movie for some time. What Black and co-writer Drew Pearce have achieved, in pulling together the funny and the tense, the wryly satirical and the action-packed, all in one summer movie, really shouldn’t be underestimated.
The filmmakers got their wish when they cast Academy Award®–winning actor Ben Kingsley as The Mandarin and for Kingsley, the Marvel Universe was a completely new world that he was excited to explore.
“The Mandarin’s motivation is to turn the pyramid of civilization as we know on its head by referring quite accurately to iconography, history and ironies that are contained in any civilized state,” explains Kingsley. “He picks at them quite viciously and remorselessly to justify the correctness of his desire to destroy this particular civilization, which he considers absurd. It’s a sense of rightness, not of evil, that motivates him and he wishes to basically turn all our landmarks and the things we cling to as emblems on its head.”
The Mandarin is the sinister head of the terrorist organization known as The Ten Rings, from which all the acts of extreme terrorism plaguing the world appear to emanate.Although he is reclusive, The Mandarin wields great power and makes his presence known by striking fear in the government and the populace through his brazen plans of attack.
“When I first spoke to [director] Shane Black, I had not seen the previous films, so he very kindly sent me a wonderful package of drawings, graphics, ‘Iron Man’ Marvel comics, and of course, the two films,” recalls Kingsley. “I watched the films, which were both very enjoyable and I really liked how the characters are not stereotypical and were really layered. I was very inspired by Robert Downey Jr. and Gwyneth Paltrow as that relationship is sort of the spine of the film. Then also Don Cheadle, of course, is wonderful, and it’s not your usual type of film in the genre as there is something original about the franchise. So when I read the script, I felt it was an intelligent approach to this film.”
Marvel’s “Iron Man 3” pits brash-but-brilliant industrialist Tony Stark/Iron Man (Robert Downey, Jr.) 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?