Quote:If these weapons had other properties (energy projection for example) he would still be a good match for Iron Man. But more importantly for the purpose of changing the character, the weapons could be used by other fighters. That would make the Mandarin a supplier of weapons for a part of the super-villain world the same way Tony is now a supplier of weapons for other superheroes.
To me weapon supplier just seems really boring. Green Goblin dumped Peter's girlfriend off a bridge...now that's some top notch villainy.
He needs to actually do something big. A shot across the bow. Something so heinous that heroes and villains alike are like "damn that's cold".
Basically I'd have him kill Jarvis or some other long standing Marvel supporting character. Someone that isn't a hero but one that almost every hero knows. If it's a hero they will come back but it's a bit harder to resurrect the non powered supporting characters. Perfect fodder for villains.
I'm sure Mandarin's done the usual villain stuff. He's gathered together super armies. He's tried to take over the world. He's killed someone close to Tony (that no other hero probably gave a damn about). He's been the business man. But to me he has nothing to show for it. Other villains at least have bragging rights...nobody in other books talks about that time Mandarin did something awesome or heinous. His plans are generic.
Personally I would fix Mandarin by having Mandarin do step 4 of the 12 step program: Make a fearless moral inventory. Why don't things work out for him? Why isn't he more feared in the villain community? What does he get out of being a villain? Why does he really hate Stark?
You mentioned Gul Dukat (who I loved) and there is an episode in DS9 (Waltz) where he and Sisko crash on a planet shortly after Dukat's daughter is killed and Dukat loses the station and Sisko finally tells Dukat what he really thinks of him. Any illusions of friendship or shared respect Gul Dukat thinks he shares with Ben are ripped away as are any illusions that he was in any way good for the Bajorans during the Occupation. Mandarin needs something like. He needs his illusions shattered utterly and to be real with himself. His track record belies his grandiosity. He needs some sort of trauma or catharsis or epiphany that tells him what he's doing just isn't working and then he needs to come back to super villainy with a new angle.
The thing is, villainy actually HAS worked out for him, in that he's fabulously rich and even owns his own de facto country. It's easy to think of him as a failure since we see Stark foil his biggest schemes, but objectively he's a colossal success who periodically has his hobby ruined.
So I think the better way to approach him is like Kingpin in "Born Again", and Penguin in "Penguin: Pain and Prejudice".
In Born Again, Kingpin has basically won. His rule is unquestioned, he's fabulously rich and influential. So as a hobby, he destroys the life of someone who has occasionally annoyed him. He doesn't have some big grand scheme, because he's already won the big stuff. Ruining Daredevil's life is his version of building a ship in a bottle.
In Penguin, Pain and Prejudice, Penguin has basically won. His rule is unquestioned, he's fabulously rich and influential. He destroys the lives of several people who annoy him simply as a hobby.
There's your angle: the Mandarin has won. The Mandarin won a long time ago. The Iron Man keeps ruining his side hobby of outright conquering the world instead of ruling it via money, corruption, blackmailing, campaign donations, etc. The Iron Man keeps smashing his ship in a bottle. So now Stark's life is his ship in a bottle.