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The Mandarin

Member Since: Sat May 17, 2008
Posts: 6,486
In Reply To

Member Since: Fri Apr 28, 2017
Posts: 3,554
Subj: I prefer to think of him not as a cultural amalgam, but as a cultural nihilist.
Posted: Tue Dec 12, 2017 at 01:01:14 pm EST (Viewed 319 times)
Reply Subj: Re: Mandarin stories should begin with the premise that he's already won
Posted: Tue Dec 12, 2017 at 09:07:47 am EST (Viewed 273 times)

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      I have always found him the more interesting for it.

    For being half English? What does it add to him? I was thinking maybe I missed an important story where his English heritage was a driving plot element. Did I? I definitely may have. Some sort of "Woe is me for I am accepted by neither side - but I shall have my comeuppance" type of tale?

    In this thread I'm mostly concerned with the Mandarin as an archetype. I don't know how to think of a Chinese/English amalgamation in archetypal terms. Is there a way to do it? Has any writer done it?


Well it could be interesting. A combination of the best and worst of both Western and Eastern cultures. Leading to The Mandarin!!!!

I prefer to think of him not as a cultural amalgam, but as a cultural nihilist. In Stan Lee's origin, he begins by spending his father's money, money that could have been spent on making the lives of the people in his fiefdom better, on himself, on becoming a kind of super-soldier, on becoming the perfect predator. He doesn't spend that money becoming devoted to culture. The Mandarin is defined by his desire to spend other people's money in a rather crude, hypermasculine way. Once all the money is gone, he goes exploring like Christopher Columbus, finds alien resources, and enslaves the surrounding villages. The rings and alien tech thus become at once the gold Columbus enslaved the Taino to mine, and the guns used to do the enslaving.

So I think any mention of culture from him is just an attempt to play to his audience.

His audience is Chinese?
"I've always treasured the culture of the land of my birth."

His audience is British?
"My mother was British, and I've always had great affection for the land of the woman who birthed me."

His audience is American?
"China, England, and America may have their differences, but when history called, all three united to fight the evil of the Japanese. I am proud to be the child created by England and China uniting as one, as well as a student of American industry and ferocity."

His audience is Japanese?
"I've always admired the Japanese ability to combine modern science with traditional elegance. I myself am both a student of science and traditional martial arts. In fact, I have taken it upon myself to study karate extensively, as both a means of self-defense, and a wise path on which to live my life."

His audience is Mongolian?
"I've treasured above all else my Mongolian ancestry as a member of the Borjigin clan descended from the great Genghis Khan himself."

But when the audience is a helpless enemy, he says what he really believes.
"To know that you are superior, in mind, in body, in spirit, that is everything! To know that power is your birthright, to know that untold thousands exist on this world for no reason but to serve you, to channel their power through your empire, be it of land or of business, channeling it upward to fuel you, to fuel your glory!"

The Mandarin is a devious, savage, exploitative character who will do or say anything in order to spend other people's resources, money, labor, and inventions on himself becoming a better warrior/predator with ever more wealth, political power, and military power. Culture is just talk from him. If there is any genuine culture at all with him, it probably begins and ends with him thinking dragon statues and Asian art looks cool.

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