Iron Man 3’s Mandarin?

Warning: Iron Man 3 spoilers ahead. So, if you haven’t watched that movie, yet skip to…umm, actually the whole post is rife with both Iron Man 3 spoilers and spoilers for the first Dark Knight movie.

I recently saw someone using the clip of Tony Stark pissing in his suit from one of the Iron Man movies and because my brain works in mysterious ways, that brought me to thinking about the revelation that Guy Pierce was actually the Mandarin near the end of Iron Man 3.

Before that it is shown that Ben Kingsley is the Mandarin, when in reality Kingsley is playing some drugged out actor, Trevor Slattery, who was hired by Aldrich Kilian to play the Mandarin in propaganda videos.

They portray the Mandarin as an Osama bin Laden-style character running an al-Qaeda like worldwide terrorist organization called the Ten Rings.

It wasn’t a bad twist, the scenes with Kingsley’s Slattery are actually pretty funny.

Just one problem I had with it, which is the exact opposite, albeit the same, problem I had with the first Dark Knight movie. Why was Ben Kingsley cast as the Mandarin.

A comparison. (Picture from

A comparison.
(Picture from

If we can set aside the fact that the Mandarin is a bit of an assembly of Chinese stereotypes, why would you pick Ben Kingsley to portray an Middle Eastern version of the Mandarin. Even if we’re ignoring the fact that the real Mandarin was Killian. Why would Killian hire a guy that looks vaguely Arab to portray a guy called the Mandarin?

Now we can move on to the Dark Knight movies before I come back to that point. Here we have a group of shadow ninjas controlled by their leader, Ra’s al-Ghul. Ra’s is actually Liam Neeson in disguise as just one of the other ninjas, but in reality he is the real Ra’s.

The fake Ra’s is played by Watanabe Ken, a talented Japanese actor.

Another comparison.

Another comparison.

So in Iron Man we got a Middle Eastern looking guy to play a Chinese character (I think he’s actually Mongolian in the comics, but that’s beside the point) and in the Dark Knight we got a Chinese looking guy (he’s actually Japanese) to play a Middle Eastern character.

So how about this instead? Why not get Ben Kingsley to have played Ra’s al-Ghul? Well, the fake Ra’s, at least.

And then we could have had Watanabe Ken play the Mandarin! Well, once again, the fake Mandarin, at least.

The plot twist in Iron Man is that Kinglsey’s character of Slattery is a drugged out, down-on-his-luck, actor who Killian finds to play a TV version of Slattery, basically.

Watanabe could play the same role, it would be the same thing, but actually hiring an Asian guy for an Asian role. There could even be a scene where Watanabe explains how Killian hired him (as Kingsley’s Slattery has with Stark in the film).




Watanabe: I was just hired to play a role. They found me in a Hong Kong studio, down on my luck and too drunk to audition.







Stark: Why you?







Watanabe: I don’t know…I guess I was the odd man out.







Stark: Odd man out?







Watanabe: I was the only drunk Japanese actor in Hong Kong?







Stark: You’re Japanese?







Watanabe: What, you couldn’t tell?




These are the weird things that I think about when I’m on patrol and nobody’s breaking the law.


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