‘Iron Man 3’ Screenwriter Reveals Mandarin’s Film Origin

by Brett White

If you haven’t seen “Iron Man 3” yet, then you should probably steer clear of this post. If you’ve made it this far without being spoiled, don’t risk it today! For the rest of you, the film’s screenwriter, Drew Pearce, talked candidly to io9, even addressing some of the gripes fans have had about the film.

Check out Pearce’s quotes below to get a better picture of how “Iron Man 3” came to be.

When asked about the film’s decidedly different take on Iron Man’s most notable villain (you know, him being a bumbling, perpetually drunk actor and not a super threat), Pearce got honest.

“It was all about what we thought was most interesting,” Pearce told io9. “We actually toyed with a lot of ideas and versions [of the Mandarin], and I researched every iteration from the comics — not just the ones Shane or I already new from our respective childhoods. But this was honestly the only take on it that we really loved — that felt fresh, and on the themes of the movie. Hiding behind masks, essentially, which is Tony’s big problem. I really believe that where possible, the villain plot should mirror or tap into the same good stuff that the hero’s journey is dealing with. This was the one way we found, through months of discussion that accomplished that ideal whilst also being entertaining and surprising.”

But what about the Ten Rings, the criminal organization hinted at all the way back in the first “Iron Man”? Many fans have complained that this Mandarin fake-out contradicts prior references to the Ten Rings. Not so, says Pearce.

“[The Ten Rings] definitely exists, both historically and, I suspect, at the time of ’Iron Man 3’ too. Maybe they’re inactive, maybe they’re plotting their own stuff — but they’re a genuine terrorist threat in the [Marvel Cinematic Universe]. Hence I can’t imagine they’re particularly pleased about a think tank co-opting their imagery, and mashing them up into this post-modern uber-terrorist.”

Pearce even addressed Aldrich Killian’s sinister, third act reveal that he himself is the Mandarin, complete with cool body tattoos of dragons. But is Killian to be trusted?

“Now, I prefer to keep a little ambiguity around the concept of a ’real’ Mandarin, but the movie does clearly state that it’s a centuries-old war mantle that has been used many times before. Maybe it will again. But Killian found it powerful enough to purloin for his creation — and inspiring enough as a concept that it helped shape the Extremis-fueled personality he reinvented himself as… Killian is a smart guy, and he’s good at thinking on his feet. He used his think tank to ’thunk up’ the Mandarin and cover his tracks when the Extremis experiment guys started going hot in the field. But when the Mandarin creation started to work better than expected, he realized the artificial ’demon’ might have other uses too in his drive for more power.”

There. That clears up a lot, doesn’t it? The rest of the interview is just as fascinating, with Pearce recounting how working on an abandoned film adaptation for Marvel’s “Runaways” led to him getting the “Iron Man 3” job in the first place. Be sure to check it out at io9.

Did you like how the Mandarin was handled in “Iron Man 3”? Let us know in the comments below or hit us up on Twitter!

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