Bringing The Mandarin, Iron Man’s arch-enemy, to the superhero franchise’s third installment required a delicate touch.
The supervillian began life as an Asian stereotype, at least as seen through our modern lens. So the makers of Iron Man 3, opening May 3, tinkered with the character to make his ethnicity more generic–and less problematic for the international marketplace.
Ben Kingsley, who plays The Mandarin in the new film, says the character is American but with a potpourri of cultural influences.
The character does include some real-life touchstones, though, including flourishes that might make some liberals wince.
Director/co-writer Shane Black says the characters beard “is meant to evoke Fidel Castro,” while his field cap is reminiscent of Moammar Gadhafi.