This recent TV spot includes some lines that become quite revealing in retrospect: Stark’s declaration, “You’re not a man!” is just one.
“You’ll never … see me … coming,” snarled by Kingsley’s character, is another. We sure didn’t.
Iron Man becomes Irony Man.
Marvel first showed off Kingsley as The Mandarin in footage shown at Comic-Con last July — which included that intimidating, Nixonian voice over about how there is “no such thing” as heroes. That was only the first time they tipped their hand about truth and fiction.
In October, Marvel publicly debuted the first images of Kingsley’s character in EW, and Feige gave an interview explaining some of the details of this interpretation.
One of the first things we addressed was the character’s complicated heritage.
Kingsley is not, of course, Chinese, but Feige says they wanted to blur the background of this version of The Mandarin. “It’s less about his specific ethnicity than the symbolism of various cultures and iconography that he perverts for his own end,” Feige says. From his samurai hair, to his royal robe, to his bin Laden-esque beard, and the AK-47 he keeps at his side, Kingsley’s interpretation is a hodgepodge of various warrior motifs.
Again, without revealing the twist, Feige was still being totally honest about The Mandarin. He spoke the truth about how the character was an amalgamation of symbols, skewed for the purposes of the true wrongdoers.
It was in that interview that Feige confirmed the Ten Rings worn by The Mandarin would not be magical alien artifacts, despite the existence of extra-terrestrials being a big part of the climactic battle in The Avengers.
Here’s another hint Feige coyly dropped, which reads very differently after you actually have seen the movie.
“A lot of this movie is about characters going back into the shadows for various reasons and characters who have been in the shadows coming out and into the light for the first time,” Feige says. “It is Tony who, for various reasons, finds himself receding into the darkness. I don’t mean emotional darkness, I mean literally ducking out of the spotlight. And we’ll see other characters stepping up who have pulled strings from the background, starting to show their hand.”
He’s talking about The Mandarin, all right. But it’s Pearce’s Mandarin, and not Kingsley’s.
Well played, Marvel. Sometimes truth is the most powerful deceiver.
For more comic book film news:
Beyond ‘Iron Man 3′: New images and revelations from Marvel’s Phase Two
‘Iron Man 3′: The 10 weirdest things in the new trailer
‘The Avengers‘: The (spoilerish) backstory behind that secret, last-minute shawarma scene