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America's Captain 

Location: Bayville New Jersey
Member Since: Sat May 17, 2008
Posts: 11,533
In Reply To
The Mandarin

Member Since: Sat May 17, 2008
Posts: 5,564
Subj: Re: Mandarin stories should begin with the premise that he's already won
Posted: Tue Dec 19, 2017 at 10:09:22 am EST (Viewed 181 times)
Reply Subj: Re: Mandarin stories should begin with the premise that he's already won
Posted: Tue Dec 19, 2017 at 07:42:03 am EST (Viewed 176 times)

    No, we are already past that. The present enemy is the corporation. You can see that in Iron Man 3. You can see it in all of the Netflix superhero shows except Jessica Jones, where the villain is toxic-masculinity. Really, Ledger-Joker was the last time I can recall the supervillain-as-a-metaphor-for-terrorism angle played straight.

There's also the evil shadow government as seen in the Punisher Netflix series and also the show Scandal - but OK, yes, I see your point.

    I also saw this in Star Wars the Last Jedi. The story takes a detour to inform us that the rich are getting richer by exploiting both the Rebels and the First Order. The traditional supervillain is disposed of halfway through the movie and the real villain turns out to be the creepy guy stalking Rey.

Evil corporation, evil shadow government, hypermasculinity (we need Mahkismo to return) - OK. I generally can't tolerate the hypermasculinity angle (except in the case of Mahkismo because Thundra) but these would all work for the Titanium Man.

As for the top of the pyramid, Justin Hammer fit the evil corporation model. He's a space-popsicle right now so there's an opening for somebody else, and of course the Mandarin has already been played in that space.

Unfortunately the evil corporation feels very dated to me. I know it still pops up but when it does it feels dated to me. That's because the evil corporation has existed as a theme since at least the 70s. It adds paraphernalia in various media. For example, cyberpunk almost always involves an evil corporation sitting behind a super-computer.

Marvel's 1999 books were heavily into the evil corporation theme. Especially Spider-Man 1999.

Deathlok has always had an evil corporation theme.

It just bores me at this point. But I agree, it's an available approach.

One thing this thread has made clear to me is the essential similarities between the Kingpin and the Mandarin. The Kingpin, after all, has never been described as having super powers, yet he fought Spider-Man with his bare hands, just as the Mandarin fought Iron Man with his bare hands. The Kingpin was able to do this because, like the Mandarin, he had developed himself through training. Both villains had dedicated themselves fanatically to accumulating and consolidating wealth and power through brutality. Both are sadists.

I would vote for the Mandarin as a crime lord. Sure, that theme is even more dated than the evil corporation, but if crime lords are good enough for Batman then they're good enough, period. More to the point, crime lords can expand into evil corporation territory easily, and can also expand into shadow government territory easily. Crime lords can go in any evil direction you could name. Mad scientist? Certainly. The crime lord can easily have a mad scientist in his employ. Vampires? Absolutely. Crime lords can easily have human trafficking rackets designed to feed vampires. Space aliens? Of course. Space aliens can be crime lords themselves or can be part of any racket or can be trying to manipulate the crime lord.

    The exploitative corporation and the embodiment of toxic masculinity are the two stock villains of this era. This time will be remembered for that as much as the seventies were remembered for bell-bottoms.

    I believe The Mandarin fits better in this era than he did in the one he was created in. As the embodiment of both rich exploitation, and toxic masculinity, he is the perfect villain for this era. He is, when you get right down to it, a rich exploiter who used exploitation to build himself into what the toxically hypermasculine mind would consider the perfect man.

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