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Subj: The symmetry is the cave
Posted: Sun Feb 18, 2018 at 12:07:32 pm EST (Viewed 122 times)
Reply Subj: The Anti-Mandarin
Posted: Thu Feb 08, 2018 at 07:29:25 pm EST (Viewed 191 times)
The symmetry is the cave or the labor camp, depending on the era. The Mandarin is forever the ruthless aristocratic brute who wants to put you in a sweat-shop, devouring your creativity to profit himself, or laying in a hospital bed next to a Falun Gong getting your organs harvested. Stark is forever the slave escaping the slave-camp with his boundless creative genius.
Indeed, part of what makes them work is contrast rather than equivalence. The Mandarin uses chi-mysticism to enhance his savagery and strength, and combines this with symbols of wealth gained by colonialism/exploitation/stealing.
Stark clads himself in the product of his own creativity and scientific brilliance.
That's not an equivalence, it's a contrast. Yet there is a certain equivalence built into the contrast, in that the result is something of a caricature of pre-cave Stark's worst traits.
Indeed, their life-stories parallel each other to a certain point, and then take a sharp detour near the end of their origin stories.
Both Iron Man and Mandarin began as aristocrats. Iron Man was raised by parents who were cold and concerned with hardening him up and making him a real man.
The Mandarin was raised by an aunt who hated him, and raised him to be an evil super-soldier, obsessed with war and science and martial arts and political deviousness. He was raised to be the harshest possible version of what a “real man” is.
Iron Man squandered some of his fortune on wasteful, hedonistic things, but ultimately was responsible enough to keep his company afloat and keep the people under him employed and prosperous.
The Mandarin squandered every bit of wealth he inherited, bankrupting his estate to transform himself into a super-soldier. His estate became so bankrupt he couldn’t even afford to pay property taxes. As a result, the lives of everyone who depended on his estate was ruined.
Out of a desire to protect American soldiers with the best equipment and keep his company alive, Iron Man de facto supported American actions that were at least semi-colonial. It’s a stain on his conscience that he works every day to rectify.
The Mandarin explored new lands, discovered alien resources, and outright conquered, colonized, enslaved the native villages there so he could exploit the resources there, i.e. the alien technology and rings. He was pretty much colonialism-incarnate. He remains a proud conqueror and exploiter to this day.
At each stage of their lives, their stories have parallels, though Mandarin's version is always at least slightly more evil. Then at the end there is a huge divergence: Stark becomes a slave, and through his creativity becomes a knight.
The Mandarin explores/exploits/steals, and via that Christopher Columbus-like behavior gains what are, at least in the Silver Age and Bronze Age, essentially ninja-tools.
I'm digressing a lot. My point is that Stark is the slave in the cave, and The Mandarin is the brute who wants to put us all in the cave.
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