Arguably one of Marvel’s best cinematic twists has to be the big reveal surrounding The Mandarin in Iron Man 3. We go through much of the film – and the entire production and promotion period before that – thinking that Oscar-winner Ben Kingsley is playing the terrorist villain, but that is not the case. Kingsley is playing an actor who is playing The Mandarin (there’s a Robert Downey, Jr. joke in here about being “the dude playing the dude disguised as another dude”).
As I said, though, it is arguable. As a matter of fact, a huge faction of Marvel’s fandom was pretty irked about the whole thing. Unbeknownst to the film’s writer and director, Shane Black, there are a lot of people who really love The Mandarin – the real one, not Trevor Slattery.
According to Black, Marvel actually went out if its way to apologize for the perceived gaffe by making it clear that The Mandarin does, in fact, exist. Of the controversy, he said:
“I’m a people pleaser. Marvel saw so many negative things they made a whole other movie just to apologize called Hail to the King. In which they said, “No, no, the Mandarin is still alive. That wasn’t him. There’s a real Mandarin.” The only reason they made that was an apology to fans who were so angry.”
So, let’s get this straight. A bunch of Marvel fans were angry that the studio didn’t really use a stereotyped Asian villain, so they decided to appease them? If that’s the case, I have to ask: Where is our Black Widow merch and solo film? The fan movement against the lack of Black Widow toys and towards the character getting her own film is, without doubt, many times greater than what the disgruntled Mandarin fans gave to Marvel. This is a situation where I don’t want to say it’s sexism…but it’s sexism. To add insult to injury, it also recently came to light that the character of Aldrich Killian (played by Guy Pearce) was originally female. The reason for that change? Marvel was “concerned” about toy sales.
As we all know, with the release of The Avengers: Age of Ultron the issue of lack of female (specifically Black Widow) toys was deemed unacceptable by the masses. In fact, on of the Age of Ultron toy sets was based on a specific scene from the film wherein Widow does some pretty badass stuff on a motorcycle. In the toy kit, she was replaced by male characters who were clearly not involved in that moment of badassery at all. Let’s hope that at least by the time Captain Marvel comes out Marvel will be prepared to give the people what they want. And let’s hope that someday Marvel lets us see some of their iconic female villains brought to life.
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