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Post By
The Mandarin

Member Since: Sat May 17, 2008
Posts: 5,069
In Reply To
Happy Hogan

Subj: Re: Mandarin stories should begin with the premise that he's already won
Posted: Wed Dec 20, 2017 at 01:00:33 am EST (Viewed 68 times)
Reply 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)



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        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.

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        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.

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            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.

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            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.



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    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.



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      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.

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        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.

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

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            Deathlok has always had an evil corporation theme.

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



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    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 would probably play against his already established hyper-masculinity. He probably thinks of both systems contributing to making mankind to soft.


I always try to go back to Stan Lee's origin for him when thinking about this. He spent money that could have been spent improving the lives of his fiefdom's people on himself. Then he, in very Christopher Columbus like fashion, explores, loots what he explores, and enslaves the natives surrounding the resources he finds, using the very resources of their land to exploit them. The philosophy implied by this loosely resembles something like Ayn Rand, but it's much uglier and more blatantly evil.

To put it another way, I don't think he cares whether a particular system is making everyone else soft. He is not soft, and the systems others follow are only relevant insofar as he can manipulate them to his own benefit. In other words, he cares about such things in exactly the same way a lion cares about what time of day a deer visits the watering hole.

What would you consider Christopher Columbus' philosophy when he was demanding that the Taino mine gold for him, and chopping off their hands and making them wear their hands around their necks whenever one of them failed to mine enough gold? Could such a mindset even be summed up by any of the major philosophical systems?


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      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.



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    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.

Yes, it's been stated outright by Stark that the Mandarin has superhuman strength. Stark says that the Mandarin is a "savage, super-strong fighter." The karate-chops are also called "savage" more than once, and Stark says that the karate might have "shattered my armor if I made one wrong move!" The Mandarin's intelligence and savagery both get played up by Stan Lee a lot. The rings in the early days don't seem very powerful, mostly doing things to temporarily get Iron Man off-balance or incapacitate him briefly. Illusions that allow him to get in cheapshots/sucker-punches with the karate, ice-beams to halt his movements temporarily but not cold enough to kill him, etc. Stuff that's more devious than powerful, kind of like movie Loki's illusions. Indeed, he uses illusions exactly the way movie Loki does, as a way to set up a sneak attack. He just tends to sneak attack with karate instead of stabbing the other guy in the back.



He does things like stealing control off Stark's weapons, enslaving people. And of course his origin story is hugely exploitative.

The overall impression I get is a character who is intended to be devious, savage, and exploitative.



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      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.



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    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.

He's actually been outright called a crimelord in at least two issues that I can recall. Though it's generally been utterly vague what these crimes where supposed to be. In my headcanon, it would be weapon-smuggling. Going by those books, though, he's a crimelord because he... stands around with some thugs being a crimelord? That version of him would get along well with Jack Sparrow, who's a pirate because he stands around being a pirate.


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    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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