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Post By
Happy Hogan

In Reply To
America's Captain 

Location: Bayville New Jersey
Member Since: Sat May 17, 2008
Posts: 11,517
Subj: Re: Mandarin stories should begin with the premise that he's already won
Posted: Wed Dec 20, 2017 at 12:27:40 am EST (Viewed 8 times)
Reply 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 180 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.

I don't have a problem with the hyper-masculinity angle, but that shouldn't be his most defining trait. It would be similar to having being a clown be the most defining trait of the Joker.

    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.

I disagree. I don't have a problem with evil corporations (in stories) but I don't see it as a good fit for the Mandarin. Also being pro-capitalist (or pro-communist for that matter) would probably play against his already established hyper-masculinity. He probably thinks of both systems contributing to making mankind to soft.

    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.

Before Frank Miller stole the Kingpin for Daredevil, he was thought of as having superhuman strength and durability. In my own head cannon, the Mandarin also should be thought of having something superhuman. (Maybe he had something before finding the rings, maybe it comes from the rings.)

By the way, I've never been a fan of the Frank Miller trope of having people with no superpowers performing superhuman feats.

    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.

But to my knowledge he's never been a crime lord. And making him one now would make him too much like too many other villains. I don't have a problem with re-tooling his concept, but the aim of that should be to show how he's not like all the other villains we've seen.

So if he becomes a crime lord, at the very least his "business" as a crime lord should be as unique as possible. Not just another Kingpin, and please not just another yellow peril.

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